What does it say?
A sleepless night drives the king to read from the court records – a sure way to be put to sleep! There he discovers how Mordecai saved him from assassination and also that Mordecai was never rewarded (Est 6). He hurriedly asks Haman how to bestow greatest honor on a man. Haman, thinking the king means to honor him, goes into lavish detail, only to be dumbfounded as the king commands him to do just that for Mordecai. At end of the second dinner, Esther finally reveals her ethnicity and Haman’s plot against her people (Est 7). Infuriated, the king steps out to gather himself as Haman throws himself on Esther’s reclining couch begging for mercy, only to add attempted rape to the charges against him as the king steps in at precisely that moment. To cover his face is the death sentence (7:8).
Mordecai now takes Haman’s place in the court as his relationship to Esther is known. But, Persian law is even above the king, and his original decree cannot be reversed (Est 8). Esther saves her people by urging the king to issue a second decree allowing the Jews to arm and defend themselves and to plunder the goods of anyone who would dare attack them. The day appointed to exterminate the Jews becomes one of victory. On this day still, Jews everywhere celebrate the Feast of Purim (from the Persian word for lot) and read this book (Est 9). Mordecai goes on to have a powerful career as second to the king of Persia (Est 10)
What does it mean?
Esther is unique in the drama, emotion and beauty of the story, but also for the fact that God’s name is not mentioned. Some scholars struggle with that, but for centuries as they celebrate the Feast of Purim, Jews understand one of their ancient proverbs saying (paraphrased), you can roll the dice but ultimately it is God that determines the outcome (Pro 16:33). An apparent fateful roll of the dice (lot) becomes an incredible victory, as the ever-present God in his grace and sovereignty never loses control of human events, just as it continues to this day. God called out a people to use as his instrument to bless the world’s peoples and that mission will not fail, even despite their many infidelities. This book demonstrates God’s providential care of his people even when outside the land due to sin.
How will I respond?
Examining my own life, what apparently fateful, impossible situations am I facing? Can I think of one? What is the main takeaway lesson that I find in Esther’s story?