Dinner for Three

Read: Esther 5:1-8

And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” (v. 4)

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 while 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 his kingdom, we are practically giddy. Ask him! we urge her. Plead for your 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). —Carol Bechtel

As you pray, ask God to work through you to accomplish his will in the world.

About the Author

The Rev. Dr. Carol Bechtel is Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan where she has taught since 1994. Dr. Bechtel preaches and teaches widely and is a General Synod Professor of Theology in the Reformed Church in America. She served as President of the RCA’s General Synod and moderator of its General Synod Council. She also serves as the Executive Director of the American Waldensian Society. Her publications include a commentary on Esther for the Interpretation series, and several Bible study books and curricula.

She now lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband, Tom Mullens. They have four children and seven grandchildren. Her hobbies include singing, cooking, gardening, and the Celtic harp.

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