The book of Esther is filled with stories of suspense and intrigue. Esther, an orphan, had been raised by her uncle Mordecai. Her beauty, charm, and wit found her favor in the courts of the king, Ahasueras (Xerxes), to the point that she had been selected and elevated to Queen. Mordecai had also found favor with the king by discovering and revealing a plot designed to kill the king. During this, a trusted advisor of the king, Haman, also found himself rising in status and influence. Haman became overly focused on his station in life to the point that he felt everyone should bow before him. Mordecai had refused to bow to anyone but God. This enflamed Haman’s anger to the point that he devised a plot to kill Mordecai and all Jews. Today’s verses demonstrate the strategy and the risks Esther was willing to take in order to save Mordecai and her people.
Key Verses: (NRSV)
2: “On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition…?’” – Esther had found herself in a position of influence, and instead of basking in her own glory and safety, it was time to stand up for what she believed, putting her entire life at risk.
3: “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me…” – The king probably was expecting a request of money or jewels, instead came a request for salvation. He was not aware of Esther’s heritage or of the threat against the Jews.
4: “…but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” – Esther argues that the annihilation of the Jews would be a personal loss for the king.
5: “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” – The king’s anger has been fueled.
6: “Esther said, ‘A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!’ Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen.” – The assailant of the king’s pride and property has little defense remaining to him.
10: “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.” – The self-righteous, scheming, and murderous Haman fell victim to his own rope.
20: “Mordecai recorded these things…” – The accounting of this story became the basis for the Jewish festival Purim, where they celebrate victory and relief from their enemies.
Points to Contemplate:
What is your purpose in life?
In chapter 4 Mordecai says to Esther, "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Do you feel that God has placed you precisely where you are for a specific reason? Do you see that your entire life, the culmination of all that has transpired, has been a preparation for the moment that lies before you? Does God use each experience, every thought you generate, as a teaching experience? Does He guide and lead you into new and fresh opportunities to serve His kingdom every day?
Are you willing to stand up for what is right? Can you set aside your own interests and feelings of insecurity to stand bold and firm against injustice and wrong-doings? Esther was safe and secure, her identity hidden. Why would she choose to risk everything, including her life? Have there been moments in your life where you felt that you should have spoken up against a wrong but chose to remain silent instead? Do you regret this choice?
Have you ever been overly proud of your achievements? Have you expected others to notice? Did you want or need recognition? What happened when your efforts and achievements went unnoticed? What feelings did you experience? Can you relate to Haman in today’s story, after all, he had worked very hard to attain his station in life? He was deserving of respect. Does his story illustrate, in an extreme way, how serious the sin of self-righteousness is considered to be? When you experience feelings of pride and self-righteousness would it help to think about how Haman ended up swinging at the end of a rope of his own making? Will it help you to unbraid the ropes of demise that you are creating?
What will the record of your life reveal? How will the events of your life be remembered? Will you be an Esther, standing up for right and good? Or will you be a Haman, focused entirely on your needs and desires? How important is this distinction? Who will read an accounting of your life? Who will celebrate the memory of what you have achieved? Are you not influencing the lives of future generations in everything you do? Promises of the Gospel:
The Book of Esther reads like a modern-day soap opera. A beautiful and intelligent slave girl becomes a queen. Intrigue and suspense face our heroine at every turn. There is no reference to God other than it is known that she is God-fearing. The insights we gain from Esther, however, teach us that in the soap opera of our lives, choices we make have an impact to the world around us. As God’s children, we have been created to make a difference. Our purpose, in the building of God’s kingdom, is to set aside our selfish tendencies and concerns for our well-being and to stand boldly against the injustice and evil we encounter in our lives. "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”