Reading through Esther 5-7 raises questions in my mind about why Esther delayed speaking to the king about the planned annihilation of her people, the Jews. In ch 4 Esther has been persuaded by Mordecai to go and speak to King Xerxes, She is concerned how the king might react and calls for a period of fasting in ch. 4 vv. 15-17.
But why when she meets her husband, the king, does she not immediately mention the issue. After all the matter is so very urgent and the plight of the Jews so very precarious. Her initial response is: ‘If it pleases the king,’ replied Esther, ‘let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.’ (Es. 5:4). At the feast that was arranged she then makes a further request for the king and Haman to come to a furtehr feast on the following day (see 5:8). Finally after significant happenings overnight, Esther makes the request in ch. 7 vv. 3-4:
Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life – this is my petition. And spare my people – this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.
The question is why did she delay? My thought is that she was a lady of wisdom and realised that to rush in to make her demand to the king was probably not going to work. She needed to bide her time and to softly introduce the subject at suitable time.
Sometimes in life, and pastoral ministry, an issue arises that you want to raise with someone. The natural inclination is to immediately confront the person with that issue when you see them. Without any pleasantries you just want to get the issue out in the open. It is something bugging you so best gets it spoken about as soon as possible. If you do this you immediately have:-
- Failed to courteously establish a fresh relationship with that person.
- Failed to ease yourself into the relationship again. By talking normally you establish a bond between the two of you.
- Indicated that this issue is “big” for you. The other person is then thinking why is this big? And you begin to be set on a collision course.
Gently raising the matter a little further down the line means that the issue is in a right context in the relationship. You can then go on to deal with it.
We need to be wise in these things.