Esther 5 introduces us to a pivotal point in the Book of Esther. In the previous chapter, Queen Esther commanded the Jews in every province to fast for three days. On the third day, Esther put on her royal robes and proceeded to face King Xerxes unsummoned.
I imagine Queen Esther was a nervous wreck as she waited for the king's reaction. The king's irrational choices in times past must've played through her mind. It was absolutely a possibility that he would have her killed before she could petition for the Jews' lives. However, when Esther approached the king's throne, she was granted favor and permission to ask for whatever she wished.
But Esther did not immediately reveal that she was there to lobby on the Jew's behalf, nor did she reveal that she herself was a Jew. Instead, she asked the king to join her at an exclusive banquet. She also requested Haman to join them. King Xerxes agreed to attend the banquet and requested the presence of Haman.
At the banquet, King Xerxes once again told Queen Esther to ask for whatever she wanted. Esther 5:6 NIV reads: "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.” But Esther put off her request yet again. Instead of revealing her ethnicity and requesting mercy for the Jews, she invited both the king and Haman to another banquet.
King Xerxes agreed to attend another banquet as did Haman. The chapter concludes with Haman ignorantly boasting to his wife and friends about his exclusive invitation to a banquet with the king and queen. He bypassed Mordecai on the way to boast about his prestige and honor and became angry when Mordecai again refused to bow to him. Haman then mentioned his anger towards Mordecai to his wife and friends.
Haman's wife and friends all agreed that an example should be made out of Mordecai. So, they suggested Haman ask the king to have Mordecai killed by impaling him on a 75-foot-tall pole. I suppose the excessive height of the pole would be a grand display as to what would happen to anyone who dishonored Haman. Haman, being a prideful and hateful man, delighted in the idea and agreed to have the pole set up. This concludes Esther 5.
After reading this chapter, I began to wonder why Esther decided to have two banquets instead of one. Scripture does not explain her actions, so we can only guess her reasoning. Some scholars believe it was because she wanted to butter up King Xerxes. We know from Esther 1 that he loved lavish parties. So, maybe Esther used this knowledge to her advantage so that she could be relatable and likable to the king.
As a practical application, I think relatability is good and should be done by Christians today. In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 we see Paul being relatable for the sake of the gospel. "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."
Drawing people towards God in an authentic way without compromising our integrity is wise. I pray that God will show us how to effectively do this in our daily lives. But again, we do not know if this is why Queen Esther held two banquets. Another theory suggests that she was simply too nervous to ask King Xerxes for her true request at the first banquet. So, she pushed her inquiry back to the second one.
Esther had fasted three days and found favor in the king's eyes. But there was still a chance that her request could be denied. Likewise, we know that prayer and fasting is effective and having favor from God places us in an optimal position. But even with this, sometimes we worry that our prayers will be denied.
If this was the reason Esther delayed placing her petition before her king, I understand her hesitation. But as for us, we have no reason to hesitate laying our petitions before our king. Of course, we do not know what God's answer may be. But we can always ask.
So, do not delay your petition. Whether Esther delayed her request because of anxiety, or because she wanted to butter up the king, or for some other reason, we do not have to put off placing our petitions before our Lord.
God's love for us means that he will always do what is best for us. So, even if the answer is no or not yet, the answer is for our good. Prayer should not be conditional or based upon a possible positive response from God. Prayer should be utilized because we need communion with God and because we are made better because of it.
Seek God wholeheartedly in thanksgiving as well as in your petitions. It is a divine opportunity that we should take advantage of every chance we get. Pray honestly, pray often, and pray without delay.
Quin Arrington is a Christian author, wife, and mother with fictional and nonfictional books available at www.amazon.com/author/quinarrington
Thank you for your time. God Bless!