Welcome back as we continue our study of the exciting book of Esther.
CH 4 ended with Esther preparing to go before the King to make a request to save her people from destruction. The LORD’s plan is about to play out in a most extraordinary way.
5:1-4, Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the King’s palace in front of the King’s rooms, and the King was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace.
When the King saw Esther the Queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the King extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter.
Then the King said to her, “What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half of the Kingdom it shall be given to you.”
5 Esther said, “If it pleases the King, may the King and Haman come this day to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”
So, Esther makes her appearance before the King. She put on her royal clothes and stood in the inner court across from the place where the King sat on his throne.
We should appreciate the courage this took. Her request would be difficult to make for several reasons:
1) She had not been called by the King for 30 days.
2) She sought to defeat a decree made by the authority of the King.
3) She knew she had a powerful adversary in Haman, the right hand man of the King, and who hated Mordecai and the Jews.
4) She would have to reveal for the first time that she herself was a Jew. How would the King react to this?
5) She must go unannounced before the King, an act which of itself would automatically cost her life if the King showed her no favor.
It certainly seemed the deck was stacked against her. Yet, despite all of the obstacles, she had resolved to do what was right. A lesson indeed for all of us as well.
She had diligently requested GOD’s blessings on her efforts with prayer and fasting, and then she then acted boldly and courageously. Not with arrogance, but gentleness and humility.
So, when the King saw Esther standing in the court, and he extended the golden scepter to grant her permission to approach.
She came forward and touched the top of the scepter which was the proper response for anyone approaching the King.
The first hurdle she so greatly feared had been cleared. We can certainly see GOD’s hand at work. Her prayer had so far been answered.
Then the King asked Esther what her request was. He promised to give her whatever she asked for, even if she asked for half of his Kingdom!
What a reception! Surely, more than Esther dared even hope for, though she still had not reached her ultimate goal.
Isn’t it true that many of the bad things we fear are going to happen, never really happen? This is especially true when, like Esther, we put our faith in GOD.
Instead of death, as she feared, she had been offered half of the greatest empire in the world. How cool was that?
Esther did not immediately make known her real request. She simply began by requesting Haman and the King to come to a banquet she had prepared that day.
Here we begin to see great wisdom and patience on Esther’s part and what made her so incredible. It may have been a temptation, after so favorable a reception, to proceed directly to her ultimate request to kill this evil Haman for the plan to destroy her people.
But instead, we see her wisdom, and we can’t help see the hand of GOD at work.
She first obtained GOD’s favor by prayer and fasting. Then she courted her husband’s favor by inviting him to a banquet.
Notice, she did not make bold demands, nor did she nag, or manipulate him. Nor did she seek to embarrass him, belittle him or whine and complain.
She respectfully sought to please him and gain his consent. Glean from that what you will, but there is a valuable lesson there.
5:5-8, Then the King said, "Bring Haman quickly that we may do as Esther desires." So, the King and Haman came to the banquet which Esther had prepared. As they drank their wine at the banquet, the King said to Esther, "What is your petition, for it shall be granted to you. And what is your request? Even to half of the Kingdom it shall be done."
So Esther replied, "My petition and my request is: if I have found favor in the sight of the King, and if it pleases the King to grant my petition and do what I request, may the King and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the King says."
The King gave the order for Haman to be called so they can attend this first banquet, as Esther had requested. Both of them were in attendance. At the banquet, the King again asked Esther what her request was. Now, the events that eventually transpire between the two banquets were absolutely essential to the success of her request.
Once again GOD’s hand was there, the LORD was clearly at work, though even Esther could not have understood it at the time.
5:9-14, Then Haman went out that day glad and pleased of heart (remember the wine); but when Haman saw Mordecai in the King’s gate and that he did not stand up or tremble before him, Haman was filled with anger against Mordecai.
Haman controlled himself, however, went to his house and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh.
11 Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the King had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the King.
Haman also said, "Even Esther the Queen let no one but me come with the King to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the King.
Look at how great I am!
13 Yet, all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the King's gate.
14 Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, "Have a gallows fifty cubits high made and in the morning ask the King to have Mordecai hanged on it;
Then go joyfully with the King to the banquet." And the advice pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made.
Haman left Esther’s first banquet feeling pretty good. He had been honored by the Queen, who had invited him personally to, not one but two banquets!
But as he was going home, Haman was confronted with the one great grief in his life. Once again he saw Mordecai at the King’s gate. No coincidence by the way.
As in the past, Mordecai refused to stand or honor Haman, and this infuriated Haman, again.
Mordecai still refused to bow to Haman – an act which he was convinced would be sinful.
Despite his anger at Mordecai, Haman did nothing at the moment. Rather, he went on home and called a gathering of his friends and his wife Zeresh to brag about his perceived greatness.
False friends will tell you what you want to hear. Even if it leads you right over the cliff so to speak. People in leadership positions need to be aware of this.
Here again we see the vanity and conceit of this man. He was so inflated by his own greatness that he actually called his own brag session!
He considered himself to be great because of apparent success in physical possessions and honors.
PRO 16:18, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Surely, we can all relate to the lesson of the fleeting and unsatisfying nature of such conceit based on material things. Haman even acknowledges that is true.
Haman’s attitude is typical of the vain, greedy human nature. Instead of counting our many blessings, we tend to complain about the insignificant problems we have.
Instead of appreciating what one has received, they worry about some minor imperfection in their circumstances.
The fact is that without a relationship with the LORD who is the source, material things do not ever really satisfy no matter how much one has.
So, Haman’s fan club had a solution for his dilemma! His wife and friends suggested that he simply eliminate Mordecai. If he was such a source of irritation to such a great man as Haman, he should just get rid of him!
They suggested he get the King’s permission to hang Mordecai. Then he could be truly happy and enjoy the banquet with the Queen!
All this sounded good to Haman, so he had the gallows built 50 cubits (75 feet –seven stories) high!
Ego can drive a man or a woman to incredible disregard for others.
Note also the danger of bad advice and of having close companionships with people who encourage us in sin and have no moral values.
One can be swayed by friends. Haman had influenced the King to allow a decree that would wipe out an entire nationality of people.
Haman in turn was influenced by his friends to determine to slay an innocent man.
Note the influence of his wife. She could, had she chosen, have been a great blessing to him and given wise counsel. Instead she became a curse to him by joining in giving evil advice.
So, here we see Haman at the pinnacle of his glory and power. Here he was so confident that he had everything under control. But, what a difference a day can make.
Next time we will see that unknown to Haman, the circumstances that he interpreted as being proof that he was at the peak of success, actually were the circumstances that would bring him down to total destruction.
In our story we now stand at a dramatic turning point. Up to this point Haman had been rising in power and honor. Mordecai was not.
We will see, beginning with this very night, GOD’s providence. Haman’s defeat would be complete in one single day.
The story is building to a climax in a single day, as two opposing forces were seeking the King’s favor to achieve totally opposite goals: Haman to slay Mordecai and Esther to deliver Mordecai and all the Jews.
SO, Haman had money, power, fame, children. Yet despite all that, one Jew who would not bow will so ignite his jealousy, arrogance and anger that he will be dead in 24 hours.