That night the king could not sleep, so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.
Xerxes was king and palace life involved a lot of eating and drinking, but he was also human, and the night after Esther’s second banquet, he couldn’t sleep.
He still didn’t know why she was inviting him to supper each night and Esther was still waiting for the right moment to ask him a huge favour – to publicly change his mind and countermand his own edict ordering the massacre of all the Jews.
However, this night he couldn’t sleep and to occupy the time he ordered that the record of his own reign should be read to him. One incident struck him – someone, several years before, had overheard and reported a plot to kill him. The plot had been thwarted, but had the informer been thanked and rewarded? Apparently not. So the king summoned one of his aides who happened to be near at hand and ordered the appropriate public honours to be awarded the next day. But the informer to be honoured was Esther’s guardian, a prominent member of the city’s Jewish community, and the aide ordered to reward him was a bitter enemy of the Jews and the instigator of the genocide edict.
So, suddenly the tide began to turn, and desperate prayers began to be answered. Circumstances were beginning to make Esther’s task easier. She still had to use all her diplomatic skills but now she could see that God was with her, not just in pious theory, but also in practical detail. A sleepless night, a certain text, the crucial servant to hand, and thousands of God’s people would now be saved.
Esther’s life, like ours, was in the hands of God. As one of the people of God in exile, she was part of his larger plan of salvation that had begun with creation and would end with Jesus’ return as king and judge. But God also had his hand on her particular circumstances. We, like her, need to live by faith and not by sight, trusting that God is working out his purposes in history, and trusting him in our smaller personal walks with him. Looking back, we too should be able to spot the ‘coincidences’ that changed our lives, and praise him.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28).