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.”
Dear God, verse two is the answer to the fasting (and, I’ll assume, prayer) that the Jews were doing. Would he or wouldn’t he hold out the scepter? Would he or wouldn’t he have her killed for the impudence of coming to see him. The funny thing I’ve never thought about regarding this story before is that you would think that Xerxes must have known something was up because Esther had taken too big of a chance to see him to simply be inviting him for dinner. Did he not have a very inquisitive mind? In reading this story again, I am left to wonder why he didn’t ask, “No, really, why did you really come to see me?” But yes, he did know there was something more going on because he finally asked in verse six, “Now what is your petition?”
Of course, this is a big request for Esther, and I think it is interesting that she chose to involve Haman in her dinners. She’ll ultimately decide in the next story that she doesn’t feel ready to bring it up, so she asks them to dinner again. But why did she invite Haman? I think I would have just gone straight to Xerxes without Haman there. Haman’s presence makes it much scarier from Esther’s perspective, in my mind. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was leading her. Perhaps you knew that to have the biggest impact on Xerxes she needed to have Haman there.
Father, there is no evidence that Esther was praying to you during this time, but you were guiding it anyway. There are times, frankly, when I forget to pray to you, but I am hopeful that you will still work your will in and through me during those times. Give me wisdom, even when I haven’t asked for it. Give me love, compassion, and discernment when I am in a given situation and I don’t have time to stop and pray. And, ultimately, remind me to pray continuously about everything.