Devotional: Esther Chapter 5 – A Queen’s Gambit Accepted

Last week, we saw that Esther was put in an impossible life and death situation just like Vashti was. Instead of playing politics with pawns and many queens have throughout history, Esther puts her hope in God. She then takes the lead in this struggle with her enemy, Haman.

Esther’s Request to the King

 1) 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.

Immediately, we see God answering the first part of Esther’s prayer. This was a dangerous move, but it was accepted. The king was in a good mood, and she survived breaking the law. God gave her favor, but the game isn’t over. Just like in chess, a player must anticipate the next move. A good player reads not just the board, but also the moment. God’s help is essential.

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.”

The King knows that Esther would not have risked life or death coming before him with a minor thing. He is giving her a generous offer to express her worries. He could have easily interpretted her presence as a confrentation in the same spirit as Vashti, but he too is reading the board and the moment. They maybee husband and wife, but this interaction is not typical of spouses. Instead, you are dealing with to powerful figuresnegotiating a world changing issue.

In our own lives, you may be playing this game with a government entity, or an employer at work. Sometimes it can be a powerful insurance company or creditor that you must petition. Who ever you chess match is with, put God in control and follow Esther’s lead.

 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.”

Again, the king knows that this feast was not worth risking death for Esther to come before him. He is now getting more curious. Esther is creating both favor and suspense. This suspense and generosity is paving the road for the hard conversation. They often say that you accomplish more with honey than with force. Esther is taking the slower and wiser course. She doesn’t not have the powerful family connections to navigate court politics with force. She must use pure wit to gain the upper hand. God is granting Esther wisdom to navigate an impossible situation. Esther saw what happened to Vashti; she knew that she would lose everything on a wrong move without God’s help.

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.”

Haman’s Rage Against Mordecai

 9) Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai.

 10) Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.

Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife,

 11) Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials.

12) “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow.

13) But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”

 14) His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.

Esther’s effort doesn’t seem to be of much good at this point. Their enemy is feeling good about himself and more bitter than ever about Mordecai. I have pondered why Esther would have both the King and Haman at her banquet. Why not just talk to the king alone? It would have been easier. I also wonder if Haman would have set up this pole had he not had the banquet to make him feel more powerful and secure. It seems like things are worse now than before. Esther has lost a piece in the game (hence the tile of this post). Was Esther hoping that Haman would bring up the subject at the banquet? Was Esther just being coy? Did she become fearful at the moment she was before him and missed her chance to tell the king what was on her heart? What do you think? Whatever the reasons, we will see that God was orchestrating everything just right. Just like a Queen’s gambit in chess take a sacrifice to gain an important position, God is leading Esther even when things look like they are getting darker