As Esther approaches King Xerxes, we wonder if he will let her in to see him or not. We know her life is at risk. But the king quickly extends his sceptre (Esther 5:1-2). And we let out a sigh of relief. He says to her, ″What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you″ (v. 3). This phrase implies that the king is feeling generous. In the New Testament, King Herod makes the same offer to Herodias’ daughter (Mark 6:23).
Talk about King Xerxes giving Esther a blank cheque! I’m sure most of us would have quickly made our request then and there. But Esther doesn’t make her request. Instead, she invites the king and Haman to her banquet (Esther 5:4).
They come along to Esther’s banquet and the king again asks her to present her request (Esther 5:6). Esther still refuses to make her request (vv. 7-8). We’re not told why. Perhaps it wasn’t the social custom to make the request so soon. Or perhaps she knows that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So the more food and wine, the more likely he’ll say yes! Perhaps she sensed it wasn’t the right time to ask. Whatever the reason, Esther keeps the king, and us, in suspense.
In approaching the king with her request, Esther seems to be following a careful plan. She dresses up in a way that is befitting a queen (Esther 5:1); she places herself in the right spot to be noticed by the king (vv. 1-2); and she speaks with a submissive tone (vv. 4, 7-8). When she is asked to make her request, her delay also seems to be part of her plan.
Yet plan as she may, we know that in the end, everything that takes place in the world is under God’s control. Jesus says that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing (Matthew 10:29). And as it says in Proverbs 16:9, ″In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.″ Esther follows her plan, but only one person knows if she will be successful.
Clothing often reflects a change in status of the characters in a narrative. Can you see this in the narrative of Esther (compare Esther 4:1-3 with 5:1; 6:7-11; 8:15)?
Consider James 4:13-15. Why can we not make definite plans for our lives? What should be our attitude as we make plans for our life?