Esther Chapter 4
Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on
sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried
out with a loud and bitter cry.
The news was devastating! Frightening. Was there hope? He put on Sackcloth and ashes.
Here is the definition for sackcloth and ashes from Biblegateway.com: Sackcloth is a coarse, black cloth made from goat’s hair that was worn
together with the burnt ashes of wood as a sign of mourning for personal
and national disaster, as a sign of repentance and at times of prayer
He cried out with a loud and bitter cry. It does not say that he prayed, but based on the above definition, we can suppose his crying out was to God.
Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her, and the queen was deeply
distressed. Then she sent garments to clothe Mordecai and take his
sackcloth away from him, but he would not accept them.
I wonder why she sent garments to Mordecai. Maybe living the way she was, in that house near the palace, she didn't quite understand? Maybe she was young and didn't grasp the gravity of the matter? Maybe she didn't understand the significance of the sackcloth and ashes.
"he would not accept them." When facing life and death or having experienced a house fire, we look at our clothes and makeup and household items and realize how insignificant they are. We wonder why we ever thought so much of our stuff. Why did we think they mattered? Perhaps another reason he wore the sackcloth and ashes was to be a spectacle; so that people would see something was happening. Maybe it is a way of announcing tragedy?
the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that
any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not
been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except
the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live.
Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty
Esther, perhaps, is thinking he doesn't understand that she can't do anything. She may be queen, but she has no real power. She is probably not feeling confident that the king would be willing to allow her to speak, it had been 30 days since she had seen him last! When you live on the same grounds and 30 days goes by without a conversation, you probably don't feel very close to that person.
13 And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For
if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance
will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s
house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom
for such a time as this?”
Mordecai lets her know that if she does not take action, she will die. Not only that, but it would be the end of her father's lineage. Period. She is without hope. He was sure deliverance would come for his people though, somehow, someway. He did encourage her that if she takes action, there is a chance her life will be spared.
15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go,
gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me;
neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will
fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
She asked for all of her people to fast, giving up food and drink day and night for three days. Not just fasting morning or night or a single meal, but day and night for three days. She and her handmaidens would do the same. I don't know, but I would imagine the handmaidens were not Jewesses. Prayer is not mentioned, but prayer and fasting usually go together. I won't go so far as to say I know they did pray, but I will say I know God knew they were fasting and why.
She was still courageous even though her only real choice was to take action because, as it says in the previous verse, she would die if she didn't.