7 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, 2 and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”
3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”
5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”
6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”
Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.
8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”
As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”
The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.
(Esther Chapter 7 NIV)
We pick up the story again with King Ahasuerus and Haman attending Queen Esther’s banquet the following evening. What a turn of events God has been working in the background in the past 24 hours, with His Divine Providence constantly in motion.
Verse 2 (“drinking wine”) indicates the Queen had prepared another lavish feast, no doubt with all the king’s and Haman’s favorite foods – the very best of Persia on the table. The king was in a very happy and generous mood again, and he asked Esther a third time about her request.
Notice that Esther was very careful with her words. She started by letting the king know that her life was in danger, as well as the lives of her people. She did not immediately implicate anyone one person – she drew upon the king’s protective instincts for her safety and the safety of those that Esther held dear to her. She also was very careful not to tie the reason for this plea back to the king or his approval to allow Haman to hatch such a plot.
Notice also that Esther was careful not to over-exaggerate the situation, but repeated the very words from Haman’s decree (“sold to be destroyed, killed, and annihilated” – v. 4, as repeated from Esther 3:9,13 and 4:7). Again, Esther was very careful not to accuse or implicate the king in his unknowing part in approving this decree.
The king is very alarmed at this request, and immediately assumes that there is someone behind this plot – and asks Esther who would dare do such a terrible thing?
Her reply – Haman!
At this time, the king still does not know that Esther is Jewish, but Haman immediately knows, and is horrified that he has made such a fatal mistake. The king is so upset that he leaves the banquet hall and goes outside to cool off and figure out what to do next.
Verse 7b shows Haman going from proud bully to wimpering coward. Persian social protocol was for the gentlemen guests to stay with the king when he left the room, and not stay behind with the ladies, especially the king’s wife or the king’s concubines. But Haman breaks protocol and stays behind and begs the queen for his life.
Verse 8 shows that timing is everything. When the king returns, he sees Haman in a compromising position with his wife, and immediately assumes that Haman is brazenly trying to sexually assault or even rape his wife, even though Haman is just begging for his life and physically touching the queen while doing so. The king’s guards cover Haman’s head, which was a standard way of indicating that someone was condemned for execution.
One of the king’s eunuchs reveals to the king that Haman had set up a pole 75 feet tall to hang Mordecai. The king immediately orders Haman to be hanged there instead. Haman’s wife’s prediction had come true – his end was near.
God’s promises ring true over and over in this story – how He protects His own, and executes justice and judgment on those who raise their hand against His children.
Solomon understood God’s protection of His own:
The righteous is delivered from trouble,
But the wicked takes his place.
(Proverbs 11:8 NASB)
May we always look to the Lord as our Protector and Provider, not for our own comfort and convenience, but for our trust in Him and relationship to Him regardless of our circumstances.