God’s people were in trouble. Ahasuerus, King of Persia, had made the foolish decision to order the execution of all of his Jewish subjects, not realizing that in doing so he had signed his own wife’s death warrant. Queen Esther had never told the king that she was a Jew, but now the circumstances demanded that she not only tell him so, but also risk her life to plead for her people to be spared. The predicament stemmed from the refusal of her adoptive father, Mordecai, to bow down before the king’s wicked Prime Minister, Haman the Agagite. With Mordecai’s help, Esther realized that God had placed her in a position to influence the king and to save her people from extermination. “For such a time as this” (see 4:14), a strong woman of faith had been lifted by the hand of a sovereign God to the palace of Persia.
After three days in which the entire Jewish population of the capital had fasted and prayed for Esther, the Queen was ready to enact her plan. The first phase of the plan was to gain an audience with the king. It was against the law — and punishable by death — to approach the king uninvited. So Esther bravely took her life into her hands and boldly broke protocol by appearing just outside the king’s throne room, in full view of the king. When Ahasuerus saw his beautiful Queen dressed in her best royal robes, “she won favor in his sight” and gained his invitation in the form of his extended scepter (v.2).
When the king asked what Esther wanted, she enacted the second phase of her plan, an elegant dinner for three: herself, the king, and Haman. After a good time of eating and drinking, the king was so pleased that he offered Esther whatever she wanted. She coyly promised to make her request after another feast on the following day, with the same short guest list invited.
Haman was flattered to have been invited to two intimate dinners with the king and queen, and he went home to brag about it to his family. But on the way home, he again saw Mordecai defiantly standing while everyone else bowed before him in respect. It ruined Haman’s mood, and when he complained about him to his family and friends, they advised him to eliminate Mordecai immediately: “If you’re so tight with the royal family, tell the king to order Mordecai’s hanging tomorrow and be done with it. And make the gallows high enough for everyone in Susa to see him die!” Haman liked the idea, had the gallows made, and savored the idea of life without Mordecai.
Tomorrow we shall see that Haman was destined choke on his own revenge. That’s the way it works most of the time. Revenge often backfires. Hatred wounds the hater most deeply and bitterness is most bitter to its owner. God’s way is to give and receive forgiveness and to give grace in return for offenses. It’s easier said than done, I know, but it is possible with God’s help.