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.”
Esther made a courageous move to approach the king unbidden. If the king failed to extend to her his royal scepter, she would be put to death for her audacity. The king was pleased to see her. He held out to her his scepter, and asked her what request she had for him. Esther had much to say on behalf of her people the Jews who were soon to be put to death. Haman, the king’s top advisor, was the one mainly responsible for wanting the Jews exterminated. It was Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, who enraged Haman because Mordecai would not kneel down or give him honor (that respect is reserved for God alone!).
Esther could have blurted out her request to spare her people the Jews, but likely that approach would have backfired on her. So she simply invited the king and Haman to come dine with her at a banquet she was preparing. They went to her banquet, and again the king asked to know her petition. Esther said she wanted them both to come to a second banquet, and there she would answer the king. Haman was honored to be singled out for not only one, but two private dinners.
Esther was a woman of faith, of courage, and high integrity. She was careful to obey Mordecai her uncle, who was a father to her once she was orphaned. She was thoughtful in planning the best way to present her petition to the king on behalf of her people. She put her trust in God.
You’ll have to read the end of the story yourself – the whole book is but ten short chapters, found just before Job and the Psalms. The story of Esther and her uncle Mordecai form the basis for the Jewish celebration of Purim, still observed today. (This year it was from the evening of February 28 through the evening of March 1). To our sadness, people are still persecuted and killed because of their race, nationality and religious beliefs. We truly will celebrate when these divisions are finally erased and the whole human race may finally live in harmony.
We pray for anyone who has experienced persecution, who has been taunted or harmed because of race, color or religion. We pray for those who think it elevates them when they put another down. How small they really are! Lord, today help us to act with love, compassion, perceptiveness and grace, to turn the tide of evil as best we may. Hear our prayer in Christ’s name. Amen.