Esther 5:1–3; 7:1–6, 9–10comment (0)
February 15, 2007
By John A. Nixon
Related Scripture: Esther 5:1–3; 7:1–6, 9–10
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Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
How Courage Triumphs
Esther 5:1–3; 7:1–6, 9–10
As we saw last week, Esther has the opportunity to become a part of God’s plan to save His people. God’s plan, however, is not determined by Esther’s decision. Even if she does not go before the king, Mordecai is confident that God will save His people from Haman’s evil plan (5:13–14). Thus Esther must choose to act courageously in order to defend and save her people.
Esther Chooses to Act (5:1–3)
Although Esther knows that her actions could lead to her death, she is strengthened from her fasting and the fasting of the community (4:16).
She chooses to risk her life and go before the king. In so doing, she becomes a part of God’s plan for His people.
When she steps into the king’s presence, he receives her and asks her what she wants. The king even invites her to ask for as much as “even to half the kingdom” (a figure of speech not intended literally). Esther shows wisdom as she invites the king and Haman to a private dinner.
God Honors Esther’s Courage (7:1–6)
The rest of Chapters 5 and 6 shows the invisible hand of God working to protect His people and judge their enemies. As Haman plots Mordecai’s death (5:9–14), the king makes plans to honor Mordecai for his faithful service (6:1–4).
The irony continues as Haman himself must honor Mordecai (6:4–14) and later die on the gallows that he had built to carry out his evil deed (7:7–10).
Throughout the story, Haman has acted selfishly and deceitfully. He has concealed his motives from the king for recommending the death of all Jews in the Persian Empire (3:5–10).
Later he pridefully and selfishly answers the king’s question, “What should be done for the man the king wants to honor?” (6:6). Now, however, Esther presents the king with Haman’s true character. She reveals to the king that she and all her people in his kingdom had been marked for death by Haman’s devious and evil scheme. She reasons that Haman has acted selfishly and not in the king’s best interests (4).
God Vindicates the Faithful (7:9–10)
When the king learns of Haman’s treachery, he commands that Haman be hanged on the gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai. The writer uses several subtle hints to show that justice had been served. Furthermore these hints point to the invisible hand of God, which had been working to protect and vindicate His people.
For example, earlier in the story, Mordecai’s report “saved the king” (2:21–23), yet the king “honored Haman … the Agagite” (3:1). The king forgets about Mordecai’s service until he is reminded one sleepless night.
Even then, it is Haman’s selfish and prideful answer to the king that led to Mordecai’s blessing (6:1–14).
In addition, although Mordecai’s actions “saved the king,” Haman portrays Mordecai as an enemy to the king.
In so doing, Haman enacts a plan to destroy the Jewish people. So the king’s “enemy” acts faithfully to save his life, whereas his highest official devises a plan that would actually bring “loss to the king” (7:4 ESV; Cf. note in the NIV). Finally the writer shows that Haman’s edict had caused “confusion” (3:15) and mourning (4:1–3), but his death abates the king’s anger and the reversal of his edict brings joy and gladness (8:15–17).
Through such contrasts, the writer is able to emphasize God’s providence without explicitly mentioning His name. Indeed this story illustrates that “the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin” (Ps. 1:6). It describes how God works in history to care for His people.