Esther is the historical account of how a pretty Jewish girl became queen of Persia, and managed to save God’s covenant people from persecution and potential demise at the hands of a spiteful politician. Esther’s Persian name meant “Star”, though her Jewish name translates as a slightly less glamorous “Myrtle”.
Some reflections on Esther:
- God is never explicitly mentioned in this book, though divine providence is clearly visible in a number of coincidences which work in the favour of the Jews.
- Esther does not rise to power by her own ingenuity. God gives her a pretty face and a good body so that she will be enrolled as a concubine and taken to bed by the King of Persia.
- Mordecai does not rise to power by his own ingenuity. God gives him some “lucky” information that allows him to save the king’s life.
- The prophet Jeremiah said” seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jer 29:4-7). The book of Esther is an example of two Jewish exiles operating under this principle.
- The heroes (Esther and Mordecai) still act responsibly, refusing to depend on or expect divine providence. They demonstrate great courage, take the initiative and recognise that God is sovereign and still cares for his people.
- The book of Esther is valuable for understanding the principle of exile. In a sense, we are all in a state of exile: from the garden of Eden. We operate in a world where God’s miraculous intervention is rarely witnessed, where his name is rarely spoken, or even allowed to be spoken. Yet he remains sovereign, and guides circumstances in order that his glory will be revealed. Furthermore, we learn from the book of Esther that we are called to be responsible for our decisions, regardless of environment.
As you read, look for all the circumstances which, had they been different, might have resulted in a very different outcome.
Reflect on the ways that God has guided your life through seemingly inconsequential, painful or confusing circumstances.
Offer God praise that he has called you to be a minister of his grace in your own situation, and ask him to reveal ways in which you can show courage and ingenuity for his glory.
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”