WALKING WITH GOD. No.45
Esther 5:2 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.
Yesterday we considered the walk of provocation of faith, of Mordecai nudging Esther to speak out, even in a potentially dangerous situation. We also suggested that we too need nudging to step out in faith, but stepping out in faith is not sufficient on its own, we need something else to go with it, so often, because faith is just the starting point of action. It took faith, a belief in God’s leading, to help Esther step out and go to seek the king, but once there that’s when the difficulties start. Esther needs wisdom, she needs to know how to act, what to do and what to say. To catch the full import of this, let’s look at her situation.
The first thing about her situation is that she is married to a king who is incredibly powerful, is known to act hastily and without thought, is self-centred and doesn’t give too much thought to his wife. Now how can we say all this? Well the opening verses of Esther tell us about his might and power, ruler over 127 provinces and having a banquet lasting seven days. At that banquet he had got drunk and boasted about his queen who he casually sent for to show her off. When she refused to come to such a bidding, he allowed his wise men to persuade him to get rid of the queen. It was after this that Esther was made queen. Later on the king had honoured Haman the Agagite (Agagites, descendants of king Agag – see 1 Sam 15 – were traditionally enemies of Israel) and given him a great deal of power. Moreover, just recently the king had not asked for Esther for thirty days, and this was not a king you just turned up on. So, going into his presence without an invite was definitely a hazardous exercise!
If going into his presence wasn’t bad enough, knowing how to broach the subject of the Jews in front of Haman was doubly so. This was definitely going to have to be a walk of wisdom. There are many times in life when we need this knowledge of ‘how-to’, in fact I think it is the thing we need more than anything else. The good news is that God is very willing to give us wisdom when we ask for it: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (Jas 1:5). However there is a condition to asking, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (v.6). In other words, there is no point asking unless you really believe God is there, that He is for you and will do what His word says.
So what does Esther do? First of all she dresses up in her royal robes (Es 5:1). If she’s going into a formal throne room, she needs to be dressed up accordingly. Do you want to impress the world? Well, after you have prayed, dress up to their level. The king welcomes her in (v.2) and asks her what she wants. Obviously the fact that she has come without invitation means she has something on her mind that she wants to communicate. It is at this point she needs tact. She’s asked for wisdom and she gets it. She knows the king likes his food and likes ‘big events’ so she invites him, together with Haman to a special banquet she wants to put on for him. This makes him feel good. At this special intimate banquet again the king asks her what is on her mind. Still she senses the time is not yet ripe for speaking of the edict. She simply asks the king to extend his grace by coming the next day again to a special banquet. He’s enjoyed this one, so why not.
Again he turns up next day and again he anticipates it will be a good experience, but in between the two banquets two things have happened. First, Haman has shown his hand by having a gallows built and has been speaking about having Mordecai hanged on it. The second thing is that the king slept badly and, waking in the night, he feels he needs picking up, and so sends for the books that record what has happened during his reign. There he reads of Mordecai’s saving his life earlier in his reign and realizes he hasn’t rewarded him. Thus next day when he comes to the banquet he comes feeling good towards Esther and towards Mordecai. Thus it is that the circumstances have so changed and we are left wondering how much of this has been of the Lord. So it is that when Esther does share the situation the king is open to her and responds well. This has been one of the classic examples of the exercise of wisdom.
What have we seen? We have seen Esther gaining prayer support, choosing her way of entry carefully, being in no rush to present her petition, doing things that will win over the king’s heart and giving God space to move to make the circumstances even more favourable. Consider your own life. Do you walk a walk of wisdom, seeking the Lord and getting from Him the knowledge how to proceed through life? The request for wisdom is a request that the wise make regularly. Do you?
(We will be taking a break for a while from the meditations on ‘Walking with God’ and so this will be the last one until the New Year)