On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.” – Esther 5:1-8 ESV
It is important to remember that Esther has just spent three full days fasting. And, no doubt, she spent those three days seeking direction and protection from God. She was going to have to go before the king and not only confess the fact that she had been hiding the fact that she was a Jews, but beg him to rescind his edict that had doomed them to destruction. This was not going to be easy. And the result for her personally could be deadly. It had been a month since the king had invited her into his presence, and unless you were invited, your presence was forbidden, under penalty of death. The reason the three days of prayer and fasting are so important is that they explain so much of Esther’s behavior in this passage. She has a plan. She does not come into the king’s presence unprepared or “winging it.” She has had three days to call out to God and ask for His help. The result is that she is able to come before the king with confidence and a well-thought-out strategy to achieve her objective: the salvation of her people.
The salvation of God is not always accomplished through a mighty miracle where we simply stand back and watch in awe and wonder. Sometimes God chooses to work through His people, using them to accomplish His will through their apparent weakness. When God chose Moses to lead His people out of captivity in Egypt, Moses argued with Him, claiming to be the wrong person for the job. But God simply responded:
“Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” – Exodus 4:11-12 NLT
Now God was going to do something similar with Esther. She simply needed to go and allow God to give her the words to say. He would be with her, guiding her thoughts and preparing the heart of the king to receive what she had to say. Jesus gave His disciples similar words of encouragement, telling them that they would have all the divine help they would need when the time came.
And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said. – Luke 12:11-12 NLT
God was going to use Esther to accomplish His will, and it seems clear from the story that He had given Esther very specific instructions as to how she was to approach the king and present her case for the Hebrew people.
But one of the first hurdles that had to be overcome was that of gaining entrance into the king’s presence. She had not been invited. So she chose to dress up in her royal robes and stand outside the court, patiently waiting for him to see her and extend an invitation. And her strategy worked. He did just that. But surprisingly, he asked her a remarkable question: “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom” (Esther 5:3 ESV). With that kind of opportunity, it could have been easy for Esther to blurt out her request right then and there. But she waited. The time was not yet right. This was a complicated and delicate matter that was required great wisdom and patience. But she took advantage of the king’s generous reception and invited he and Haman to a feast. She appealed to his vanity and his extreme love for festivities. The king was never one to turn down a party invitation. And it is interesting to note that Esther had already prepared the feast. She went into this encounter with the king with a certain degree of confidence and faith that God was going to work things out. And the king immediately sent for Haman so they could take advantage of the food and wine that Esther had prepared for them.
After the king and Haman had been satiated on the fine foods prepared for them and satisfied in their own self-important, Esther served them wine. Then the king asked again, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled” (Esther 5:6 ESV). And Esther responded again by inviting the king and Haman to yet another feast on the following day. She was working her plan to perfection. We may not be able to see the strategy behind her efforts. We might even believe she is simply putting off the inevitable. But there is far too much planning and calculation involved to write this off as procrastination. She knows exactly what she is doing. And it would appear that she is doing exactly what God has told her to do. God is accomplishing His will through her. He is implementing His plan by utilizing one of His children. He is using the weak to confound the wise. God is great, but He oftentimes chooses to work through the powerless to shame those who think they are powerful. Esther was an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer. She was a willing tool ready to be used by God to accomplish His plan.