Summary: We learn that our lives belong to God. He created us, called us, gifted us, and now wants to use us.
A True Fairy Tale?
Everybody seems to like a fairy tale (especially little girls). My granddaughters love for me to make up fairy tales, and they always want to be in them. They act out the parts as I tell the story and they always want there to be princesses, fairies, and of course a wicked witch. They also like mermaids, though it’s challenging to work them in sometimes.
So many of the classic fairy tales have that familiar “rags to riches” storyline: beautiful obscure girl (often with wicked stepsisters) found by a prince, or living in the forest with seven small men (sounds suspicious to me).
But as we get older, we realize fairy tales are not true. Or are they?
Here before us is a story that in many ways reads like a fairy tale. There are no fairies, witches, or princes (and certainly no mermaids), but there is a beautiful orphan girl who wins a beauty contest and becomes a queen. And there is an evil man who plots her destruction and the destruction of her people. But because of her bravery, she saves her people and they live “happily ever after”!
It’s the story a beautiful young Jewish girl named Hadassah; she is better known as Queen Esther. But she was not always not always the queen.
Where Is God in the Book of Esther?
A unique feature of this book is that the name of God is never specifically mentioned. For that matter, the Lord is not referenced or even prayed to overtly. Yet God is all over this book, from beginning to end. The Lord is present in every scene and in the movement of every event.
As a Christian, I do not believe in coincidence, but in Providence. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.”
I am often asked what my favorite scripture is. That’s very hard to answer, because it depends on the situation.
• When I am in a difficult and worrisome situation, it’s Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything . . .”
• When I look at how crazy things are in our world, I love John 14:27, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (NKJV).
• But overall, I would say one of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (NKJV).
But there are times when God does not seem to be paying attention to our lives. We must remember, He has promised to never leave or forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5) and that He will walk with us through the floods and the fire.
Chuck Swindoll, in his book Esther, wrote, “God’s presence is not as intriguing as His absence. His voice is not as eloquent as His silence. Who of us have not longed for a word from God, searched for a glimpse of His power, or yearned for the reassurance of His presence, only to feel that He seems absent from the moment, distant, preoccupied. Yet later, we realize how very present He was all along.”
Setting the Stage
The story of Esther begins with the king of Persia, Xerxes. He was a very powerful king, ruling over the vast Persian Empire, which ranged from India to Ethiopia. He was raised as a royal, being the son of Darius the Great and grandson of Cyrus the Great.
History depicts Xerxes as physically towering over his contemporaries. Yet he also was an intolerant and insensitive man. Though a powerful and forceful leader, he lacked in what we would call “people skills.”
He decided to throw a great feast, which was to last for 180 days. Everyone was invited. The food was plentiful and the wine was flowing freely. The drinks were “on the house,” courtesy of King Xerxes. You could eat or drink as much as you wanted—king’s orders! People were drinking out of gold goblets, each one custom-designed. And the party was set in the lavish beauty of the royal palace.
Imagine the sense of power King Xerxes must have felt. Add to this the fact that he was “wasted.” And as we all know, drunk people say and do really stupid things.
So the great king decided to summon his beautiful queen, Vashti. She was to come in among the drunken subjects and be paraded about. Some Bible commentators believe the text implies that she was to come in naked, wearing only her crown. Xerxes was treating Queen Vashti like an object or personal possession. To her credit, she flat out refused, not wanting to be humiliated.