When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 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.” – Esther 5:2-4
“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Esther seems to have understood this. As she prepared to entreat King Ahasuerus, she was resolved to take the route of obedience to God, even though she might die—but she approached the moment with subtle wisdom. She was simultaneously brave, appropriate, cautious, humble, skillful, delicate, and precise. Her entrance before the king was cleverly designed and carefully planned and executed.
The time for fasting and preparation was over, and Esther appropriately prepared herself by putting on her royal robes (Esther 5:1). She approached the king according to protocol. She recognized that she had entered a peculiarly perilous environment. When Ahasuerus extended his grace toward her, she humbly accepted it by touching the tip of his scepter.
While the king was exaggerating by offering half of his kingdom, he was saying there was little limit to what he was prepared to do for his queen, because she had found favor in his eyes. Esther’s answer—to invite the king to dinner—sounds rather anticlimactic! Yet there was skillful wisdom displayed in her invitation to a great banquet. She seemed to understand that the way to this man’s heart was through his stomach, so she invited him to eat with her. The king was very pleased with Esther’s request. After all, it’s one thing to put together a feast for yourself, as Ahasuerus did earlier (Esther 1); it’s another thing altogether to be invited to a feast that is prepared in your honor.
Esther understood that what she was to ask of the king was no small thing. The king would soon learn Esther’s true identity, and she essentially was about to ask him to lose face in front of his entire kingdom. Her plea needed to be delicate yet precise.
For many of us, once we’ve resolved to do something, we are tempted to just get at it directly, with no concern as to how we might affect or offend anybody else. After all, something needs to be done! But we often find ourselves acting in a way that is entirely unhelpful and unedifying. It is very possible to do the right thing in the wrong way.
Next time you face a situation that demands obedience and courage, take a leaf from Esther’s book, and consider not only what you must do but how best to approach it. It is right to take risks to obey God and share His gospel; it is unwise to increase them in how you go about it. Like this queen, you can be bold—and winsome.