A CAREFUL PLOT UNFOLDS!
Lord, give us wisdom to gain our ends.
Read ESTHER 5:1–8
Esther’s Request to the King
5 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”
4 “If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”
5 “Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”
So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”
7 Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: 8 If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever” (Phil. 4:19,20).
Esther’s desire to keep herself safe so her people might be saved gets fulfilled. She really does come across here as a very intelligent woman. The quietly obedient woman of 2:20 seems to have come into her own! She devises a slow and steady approach, knowing that intriguing the king by stringing out her real request would make him all the more eager to find the answer and grant the request. Aware of his enjoyment of parties, she prepares food and drink. She invites Haman to this preliminary banquet, so that his presence at the second, more significant, meal would not be seen as surprising. The king is put in a good mood by the banquet invitation and has already pretty much decided that he will do whatever it is that Esther will ask. The writer’s ongoing presentation of the king is not positive. He is easily persuadable, and he reacts to praise and gifts rather than thinking diplomatically or even thinking much at all! But Esther knows this and uses it to her advantage.
So what are we to learn from this little section? Is it that coming straight to the point is not always the best way forward? Is it that clear thinking is likely to overcome self-indulgent passivity? Is it that using worldly methods is sometimes a good way to achieve our aims? Maybe all of the above are good lessons to note, but the only way to assess God’s attitude to what is going on here is to depend upon our knowledge of his attitude toward Israel’s behavior in other contexts. There is not even a stray editorial comment to guide us. Again, this narrative challenges us—and leaves us with some homework to do!
Lord, events are again clear but the reasons they are recorded are not. Help us listen to what Your Word might actually be saying to us in our particular situations.
Lord, as Paul says, You truly use the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise in order to advance Your purposes.