This 12-part series takes a new look at an old story and finds fresh words of courage, faith, and challenge for today’s Church. It is based on Carol Bechtel’s commentary on Esther in the Interpretation series (Westminster John Knox, 2002).
Dinner for Three
Read: Esther 5:1-8
Let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared…. (v. 4, NRSV)
From this time forward, Esther is every inch a queen. Fortified only by her three day fast, she dons her “royal robes” and enters the throne room uninvited. We should not downplay the danger. It is a little bit like venturing into a snake pit doing one’s best imitation of a snake.
The relief we feel when Ahasuerus extends the golden scepter is significant—but temporary. Now we brace ourselves to see what will happen when she pleads for the lives of her people.
When Ahasuerus offers her a blank check in the form of half is kingdom, we are practically giddy. Ask him! we urge her. Plead for you people now while he’s in a generous mood!
We are puzzled, then, when we read Esther’s response in verse four. Banquet? we ask. Why are you wasting an opportunity like this on a dinner invitation? Our incredulity is even greater when the first invitation is followed by a second!
The story is silent about Esther’s motives here. Perhaps she is banking on the way to a man’s heart being through his stomach. Perhaps she is simply trying to work up her nerve. Either way, God uses her hesitation to work all things “together for good” (Romans 8:28, NRSV).
Prayer: Work through us, gracious God, to accomplish your will in the world.