1 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, 2 and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”
3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”
5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”
6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”
Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.
8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”
Haman, Esther and King Xerxes are about to sit down to the second banquet however they would each have different hopes and fears for how the banquet would go. How do you think each of them would feel and from what’s happened so far, why would they feel like that?
Esther: Anxious – Her people’s lives were at stake and she was going to ask a very powerful and terrifying king an important request.
Haman: A mixture of nerves and dread and possibly hoping that nothing would go wrong – What had happened with the honouring of Mordecai was most likely still in the forefront of his mind and his wife’s words of warning about the Jews would have still been fresh in mind.
King Xerxes: Tired and curious – The previous night he had been unable to sleep which we saw led to the honouring of Mordecai. He would have also been very curious about what Esther’s petition was. Any longer, he may have become angry so we can see how God’s timing is perfect.
(Read verses 1 – 4)
Again, King Xerxes asks Esther what she wanted, again offering up to half his kingdom. This must have been reassuring to Esther as her request was not that extreme.
So, if we look at how Esther phrased her request, we can see how God guided her.
- She starts by being humble and polite, asking for her request to be granted only if it pleases the king.
- She reminds the king of their close relationship saying “If I have found favour with you” or, in others words ‘if she has been a good and loyal queen’.
- She asks for her life before the life of her people which, rather than being selfish, is actually clever as she wants Xerxes to know that this order will affect his queen and put her life in danger, not just some people he has no contact with. This order will have a direct, personal effect on the king himself.
- She uses pretty much the same words as the orcder itself – “destruction and slaghter and annihilation” – so there is no misunderstanding and so she cannot be accused of exaggeration.
- She keeps her request humble. She states she would never bother the king if her people were simply being sold as slaves. Obviously this order of death is much worse.
- She doesn’t mention Haman or blame anyone else for the writing of this order. She waits for the king to ask which of course doesn’t take him long.
God was guiding her speech and God guides us in what to say as well so long as we ask.
(Read verses 5 – 6)
As soon as Haman heard the specific words of his order, he would have been filled with dread. He must have been shocked that the queen was a Jew and he also must have known that his time was up. He would have realised that he had picked the wrong race and the wrong God to go against.
Esther was not shy in her description of Haman and her description of “adversary and enemy” and “vile” was not only true but would also have brought home to the king just how completely evil and untrustworthy Haman really was.
Remember, it would not have just been Haman who was shocked by this speech but also Xerxes. Up until that moment, he was clueless about Haman and had thought him completely trustworthy and noble. It must have come as a terrible shock.
(Read verses 7 – 8)
The king was obviously furious for two reasons:
- His own queen’s life had been threatened without his knowledge
- His most trusted attendant had not been honest with him at all.
The king most likely also felt a bit stupid and realised that he was partly to blame for not knowing which race his own wife belonged to or which race Haman wished to annihilate before he agreed. This is most probably why he wanted some air and a chance to gather his thoughts.
Haman used this time to beg for his life. He already realised that the king had decided his fate and thought the only way was to beg to the queen. However, in his distress, he invaded the queen’s personal space and got much closer than was appropriate. Of course that was the time at which the king returned. Not the cleverest of ideas.
(Read verses 8 – 10)
In those days, when a person did something wrong, if their face was covered it meant that the person had to die. It was the end for Haman.
Esther had clearly made an impression on a lot of people including the eunuch, Harbona. He was a man who knew a lot about the goings on in the palace and he knew about Haman’s gallows. He also specifically mentioned that Mordecai was the one Haman had planned to hang on them but also the one who had saved the king from the assassination plot.
As we can see from Haman’s day, a lot can change in a short amount of time. It may seem extreme but what if you die today? Are you ready to face God, your creator? Have you put your trust in him or are you living as if you have all the time in the world. Live as if Christ died for you today and will come for you tomorrow.
So, the king had listened to Esther and believed her, the Jews’ enemy Haman was hanged so he could cause no more problems but do you think that was the end?
No, there was still the problem of the order to annihilate the Jews. The order still stood and, as the order had been sealed by the king’s ring, no one could revoke it, not even the king. Does this mean Haman was still to have his way, even after death? Of course not, God’s in control, however we’ll see how he changes this next time.