The evil Haman had manipulated King Ahasuerus (also called Xerxes) to issue an irrevocable decree calling for the murder and plunder of all Jewish residents throughout the Medo-Persian empire on a certain day. To counter this, God had placed Esther in the palace as Queen, but thus far she had kept her heritage secret, and the king did not know she would be directly impacted by the decree. Furthermore, Queen Esther was not permitted to approach the king without being summoned by him first, under the penalty of death. The king had already acted with impulsive rage on multiple occasions, so there was good reason for her to fear for her life.
When Esther’s relative Mordecai informed her of the specifics of the decree through her messengers, she was not sure how to respond or what steps to take. Sensing her hesitation, Mordecai sent this response:
13 Mordecai told them to reply to Esther with this answer, “Do not think in your soul that you will escape in the king’s household more than all the Jews. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place—but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13 (TLV)
In hindsight, it is clear that the Lord granted Queen Esther her royal status in order to preserve His people, but it still required bold action on her part to take the initiative to save them. Like the prophet Daniel before her with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Esther asked her support community to fast for her first, then she would approach King Ahasuerus no matter the consequence.
16 “Go! Gather together all the Jews who are in Shushan and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast in the same way. Afterwards, I will go in to the king, even though it is not according to the law. So if I perish, I perish!” Esther 4:16 (TLV)
God heard their petitions and Esther was able to safely approach the king. She then invited both the king and the evil Haman to a banquet the next day where she planned to confront them both with the facts of Haman’s underhanded manipulation. Haman assumed the banquet was being prepared to honor him.
Meanwhile, after another encounter, Haman decided not to wait until the appointed date to kill Mordecai, who opposed him. At home that evening, he heard and joyfully approved of his wife and friends’ cruel suggestion:
14 Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, “Let them set up a gallows 50 cubits high, and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go happily with the king to the banquet.” This idea delighted Haman and he ordered the gallows to be built. Esther 5:14 (TLV)
Things looked very bleak indeed for Mordecai. But this very evening, God would intervene in the situation, using a little insomnia and refreshing a memory in the king’s mind.
1 That night sleep deserted the king, so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, be brought in and read before the king. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had revealed that Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the door, had conspired to kill King Ahasuerus.
3 The king asked, “What honor or recognition has been shown to Mordecai for this?”
The king’s servants that attended him replied, “Nothing has been done for him.” Esther 6:1-3 (TLV)
The following morning, the king asked the evil Haman what should be done for a person the king wished to honor. Assuming that the king was talking about him, Haman listed off several honors that he would love to receive:
7 So Haman replied, “For the man whom the king desires to honor, 8 let them bring a royal robe that the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on his head. 9 Then let the robe and the horse be placed into the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them clothe the man whom the king desires to honor and parade him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming, ‘This is what is done for a man the king desires to honor!’”
10 The king said to Haman, “Go quickly! Take the robe and the horse, just as you suggested, for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate! Do not neglect anything that you recommended.” Esther 6:7-10 (TLV)
Nothing could deflate and embitter Haman faster than being forced to grant these honors to Mordecai, whom he had planned to hang on high gallows. But Haman’s day was about to get much worse at the banquet, where Queen Esther revealed her heritage to the king and showed that the full blame for the dreadful decree belonged to Haman.
3 So Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in the eyes of the king, and if it pleases the king, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare the life of my people—this is my request! 4 For we have been sold, I and my people, for destruction, slaughter and annihilation. If we had simply been sold as male and female slaves, I would have remained silent, for such distress would not be worth disturbing the king.”
5 King Ahasuerus responded to Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is the man that presumed to do this?”
6 Esther replied, “The man—the adversary and foe—is this wicked Haman!”
Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. Esther 7:3-6 (TLV)
At this, King Ahasuerus began to have another of his famous temper tantrums. Looking for ways to punish the guilty Haman, he got some timely advice.
9 Harbonah, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “Look, a gallows fifty cubits high is standing next to Haman’s house. Haman himself made it for Mordecai, who spoke good on behalf of the king!”
The king said, “Hang him on it!” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s rage subsided. Esther 7:9-10 (TLV)
This being done, the king felt relief, then granted all of Haman’s estate to Mordecai, who took Haman’s place as the king’s chief advisor. They were then able to issue a second decree which allowed the Jewish people throughout the empire to defend themselves, which they did quite effectively. This event is celebrated each year by the Jewish festival of Purim.
Though the name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, His presence is revealed all through it by the many timely events that blessed and protected His people.
What events in your life have produced blessings for you, perhaps without realizing that God was behind it?
Lord, we thank You for Your loving presence in our lives, often before we even know You are there. We thank You for the beauty of Your creation in the heavens and on earth, and for Your glory that we see reflected in it. Help us to reflect Your loving presence and glory to those around us. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.