Esther Commentaries

 

 

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OTHER RESOURCES ON ESTHER

Esther Devotionals

 

ESTHER RESOURCES
Esther Commentary, Sermon, Illustration, Devotional
See Disclaimer
Updated February, 2012

CHRONOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIP OF
EZRA-NEHEMIAH-ESTHER
538-515BC 483-473BC 457BC  

13 Year
Gap

444-425BC
Ezra 1-6 Book of Esther Ezra 7-10 Book of Nehemiah
First Return
of Jews from
Babylonian Exile
58 Year
Gap
Second Return
of Jews from Babylonian Exile
Third Return
of Jews from
Babylonian Exile
 
ESTHER:
THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
Esther 1
Es 1:1-22
Esther 2
Es 2:1-23
Esther 3
Es 3:1-15
Esther 4
Es 4:1-17
Esther 5
Es 5:1-14
Esther 6
Es 6:1-14
Esther 7
Es 7:1-10
Esther 8
Es 8:1-17
Esther 9
Es 9:1-32
Esther 10
Es 10:1-3
Esther's
Exaltation
Haman's
Cunning Plot
Haman's
Humiliation
Mordecai's
Exaltation
Feast of
Ashasuerus
Fast of
Mordecai
Feast of
Esther
Feast of
Purim
Exaltation Persecution Preservations Commenoration
Jewish Existence
Threatened
Jews
Spared
Gentile Setting Jewess Elevated Threat to Jews Influence
of a Jewess
Deliverance
of Jews
A Jew Exalted
Feast of
Ahasuerus
Feast of Esther
and Purim
Location of Events:
Persian
10 Years
(483-473BC)
Timeline of Ezra-Nehemiah-Esther-See page 28- excellent!
Timeline of Esther related to Ezra & Nehemiah - Parallel lines for Medo-Persian Kings &  Daniel, Zechariah, Haggai and Malachi - see page 15
Modified from Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the Old Testament" - also Logos format

Key Passages: Esther 4:14, 16, Esther 8:17, Esther 9:26, 31
Key Words: See list under "Precept Ministries Inductive Study on Esther"
The Book of Esther is unusual - God's Name is not mentioned once, yet God's "Hand" is clearly present and active throughout the book, to the extent that many see the book of Esther as a veritable "treatise" on the doctrine of
Divine Providence (see separate study)
Purim Music Video - Purim with a beat. Give it a listen as you ponder "For such a time as this!"

Esther Commentary
from Preceptaustin
Verse by Verse
Completed July, 2012

Esther 1 Commentary
Esther 2 Commentary
Esther 3 Commentary
Esther 4 Commentary
Esther 5 Commentary
Esther 6 Commentary
Esther 7 Commentary
Esther 8 Commentary
Esther 9 Commentary
Esther 10 Commentary

Precept Ministries
Inductive Study on Esther
“A Man, A Woman Who Lives for the Good of God's People”
A Miraculous Deliverance of the Jews!

First Lesson - Download Lesson 1 of 4 - Go to page 19 for "Observation Worksheet" - Esther 1-10 double spaced and wide margins for marking the key words, making lists, taking notes (See Inductive Bible study)

Excellent Timeline of Esther in Relation to Ezra & Nehemiah w/ Parallel lines for Medo-Persian Kings and Another line for Daniel, Zechariah, Haggai and Malachi - see page 15 of the Pdf


Another Excellent Timeline of the 3 Returns from Exile, Medo-Persian Kings, et al - see page 28
 

Key words (note) in Esther: Which of these "keys" is the major "key word" (Clue: occurs 51x)
 

Anger/angry - Esther 1:12, 18, 2:1, 2:21, 5:9, 7:7, 7:10


Banquet/feast - Esther 1:3, 1:5, 1:9, 2:18, 5:4, 5:5, 5:6, 5:8, 5:12, 5:14, 6:14, 7:2, 8:17, 9:17, 9:18, 9:19,9:22

 

Jew/Jews - Esther 2:5; 3:4, 6, 10, 13; 4:3, 7, 13, 14, 16; 5:13; 6:10, 13; 8:1, 3, 5, 7,8,9, 11, 13, 16,17; 9:1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 10:3;


Edict/decree - Esther 1:19 1:20 2:1 2:8 3:9 3:14 3:15 4:3 4:8 8:8 8:13 8:14 8:17 9:1 9:13 9:14


Fast - Esther 4:3, 16, 9:31

 

Destroy/destruction - Esther 3:6 3:9 3:13 4:7 4:8 7:4 8:5 8:6 8:11 9:5 9:6 9:12 9:24

 

Day, Month, Year - Esther 1:3 2:16 3:7 1:1 1:2 1:4 1:5 1:10 1:18 2:11 2:12 2:16 2:21 3:7 3:12 3:13 3:14 4:11 4:16 5:1 5:4 5:9 7:2 8:1 8:9 8:12 8:13 9:1 9:11 9:15 9:17 9:18 9:19 9:21 9:22 9:26 9:27 9:28 9:31 (See Jewish Calendar)

Pur/Purim - See discussion of
pur/Purim - Esther 3:7 9:24 9:26  See also - Purim - Wikipedia and Judaism 101 Purim with interesting discussion of Esther from a Jewish perspective. In short, the Feast of Purim is an annual reminder of God’s faithfulness on behalf of His people.


Ahasuerus (note) - The Persian King - the same as Xerxes = name used in the NIV


Mordecai (note) - His name means - Little man; bitter bruising; bitterly reduced. Bitterness of my oppression. "A picture of the humanity of Jesus while acting as our kinsman Redeemer (Esther 2:4-7; 10:1-3)" (The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names. Smith & Cornwall)


Haman (note) - His name means Alone; solitary. Well disposed. A rioter. The rager; their tumult. (Smith & Cornwall)

 

Esther (note) and Ruth (see resources) are the only books of the Bible centered around a woman. Esther is unique in that it is the only book of Scripture that does not mention God, although clearly God's providential hand of protection of His people pervades the pages. Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah, “myrtle” (Es 2:7), but her Persian name Ester was derived from the Persian word for “star” (stara). The Greek title for this book is Esther (Latin = Hester). Note that the dramatic events of the book of Esther take place between the events of Ezra 6 and Ezra 7, between the first return led by Zerubbabel and the second return led by Ezra.

 

Click to Read Esther Kim's Testimony - Esther Kim, a "real life Esther" is the author of the fascinating book entitled "If I Perish" (Amazon - 4.5/5 Stars - Read some of the Reader Reviews) based on the famous verse Esther 4:16.

Adam Clarke
Commentary on Esther
 

(1760-1832) Clarke was Methodist, Wesleyan, Arminian, (e.g., Clarke "suggested that although God can know all future events, he chooses not to know some events beforehand" Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, page 808). He did not always interpret Scripture literally and so was amillennial (he interpreted Revelation as a Historicist) which led him to interpret the church as fulfilling many OT promises to Israel. Influential in development of doctrine of entire sanctification. Affirmed the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, but held a belief of "plenary dynamic inspiration" (idea of every thought inspired), thus falling short of "plenary verbal inspiration" (every single word inspired) (Bib. Sacra: Vol 125, p 163, 1968). In summary, a useful, respected commentary but as with all these resources you are advised to "Be a Berean!"

Esther 1

Esther 2

Esther 3

Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6

Esther 7

Esther   8

Esther   9

Esther 10

Walter Adeney
Commentary on Esther
The Expositor's Bible
Introduction

Esther 1 - Ahasuerus and Vashti
Esther 3:1-6, 5:9-14, 7:5-10 - Haman
Esther 4:10-5, 7:1-4, 9:12,13 - Queen Esther
Esther 2:5,6, 4:1,2, 6:10, 11, 9:1-4 - Mordecai

Art Related
to Esther
(Alternative Source of Pictures Related to Esther)

Esther 1
Esther 2
Esther 3
Esther 4
Esther 5:1-8
Esther 6
Esther 7

 
Esther 8
Esther 9  
Esther 10

Bible Maps and Timelines
Related to Esther
Takes place over ~ 483-473BC
(Takes place between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7)

Timeline of Esther, Ezra & Nehemiah w/ Medo-Persian Kings see page 15
Timeline of 3 Returns from Exile, Medo-Persian Kings, et al - see page 28
Timeline of Division of the Kingdom to close of OT History
Timeline from the Creation to the Fourth Century A.D.
Timeline from 499-450BC (Esther written about 465BC)
Map of Susa/Shushan (See also Susa - Dictionary article)
Map of Susa/Shushan
Timeline - 504 BC - 254 BC Esther
Susa Map
World Powers in Sixth Century
Conquests of Cyrus the Great
The Persian Empire
Return of Jewish Exiles
Judah in the Time of Nehemiah
Kings & Events of Babylonian, Persian, Greek Dynasties
Brief History of Powers of Mesopotamia from 13554BC - Ge 10 to 165BC Seleucid/Ptolemies
Chart of entire OT on One Page
Timeline of the Post-Exilic Period

Bible.org
Resources Related to Esther

Search for any Scripture reference on Bible.org...

For best results, be as specific as possible.

The old functionality to search by book. still exists. Just type in the book only (like: John or Gen. standard abbreviations are accepted) and you will get the same functionality as the old site.

You can also search by chapter like: John 1 or Gen. 2

You can also search by simple or complex references like: James 1:2 or Hebrews 1:1-3,6; 5:4

W. Burrows
Homiletical Commentary
on the Book of Esther
Introduction

Esther 1
Esther 1 - Illustrations

Esther 2
Esther 2 - Illustrations

Esther 3
Esther 3 - Illustrations

Esther 4

Esther 4 - Illustrations

Esther 5
Esther 5 - Illustrations

Esther 6
Esther 6 - Illustrations

Esther 7
Esther 7 - Illustrations

Esther   8
Esther   8 - Illustrations

Esther   9
Esther   9 - Illustrations
Esther 10
Esther 10 - Illustrations

Biblical Illustrator
Esther
Over 100 pages

Introduction

Esther 1:1-4
Esther 1:8
Esther 1:10
Esther 1:11,12
Esther 1:15
Esther 1:16-26
Esther 1:20

Esther 2:1
Esther 2:2-17
Esther 2:5-20
Esther 2:17-20
Esther 2:20
Esther 2:21

Esther 3:1-6
Esther 3:2

Esther 3:5-6
Esther 3:6
Esther 3:7
Esther 3:8
Esther 3:9
Esther 3:11
Esther 3:13
Esther 3:15

Esther 4:1
Esther 4:2
Esther 4:3-5

Esther 4:8
Esther 4:11

Esther 4:13
Esther 4:14
Esther 4:15-17

Esther 5:1-14
Esther 5:8
Esther 5:10
Esther 5:11-13
Esther 5:13
Esther 5:14

Esther 6:1

Esther 6:3
Esther 6:6-11

Esther 6:12
Esther 6:13

Esther 7:1-6

Esther 7:7-10

Esther  8:1-2
Esther  8:3-4
Esther 8:5-6
Esther 8:7-14
Esther 8:15-17
Esther 9:1
Esther 9:2-3
Esther 9:10
Esther 9:17-28
Esther 10:1-3

Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Commentary on Esther
 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Published 1871

Introduction

Esther 1

Esther 2

Esther 3

Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6

Esther 7

Esther   8

Esther   9

Esther 10

Thomas Constable
Commentary Notes on Esther
Conservative, Millennial

 

W A Criswell
Sermons on Esther

Esther 1-10 The Gambler's Fading Goal

Esther 1-10 Esther: The Orphan Queen

Esther 1-10 The Book of Esther

Esther 1-10 The Feast of Purim

A D Davidson
Lectures, Expository and Practical,
on the Book of Esther
1859
Another Source

Introduction - Page 3

Esther 1:1-12 - page 9

Esther 1:13-22 - page 29

Esther 2:1-4 - page 49

Esther 2:5-20 - page 67

Esther 2:21-23; 3:1-5 - page 89

Esther 3:6-11 - page 108

Esther 3:12-15; 4:1-9 - page 128

Esther 4:10-17 - page 149

Esther 5:1-8 - page 171

Esther 5:9-14 - page 192

Esther 6:1-14 - page 213

Esther 7:1-10 - page 236

Esther 8:1-14 - page 257

Esther 8:15-17; 9:1-19 - page 278

Esther 9:20-32; 10:1-3 - page 299

Defender's Study Bible
Notes on Esther
Henry Morris
See also
Holman Christian Standard Bible Study Bible

Introduction

Esther 1

Esther 2

Esther 3

Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6

Esther 7

Esther   8

Esther   9

Esther 10

Bob Deffinbaugh
Sermons on Esther

Introduction to Esther

Esther 1:1-2:18 Miss Persia

Esther 2:19-3:15 Hanging Out at the Gate

Esther 4:1-17 Esther’s Dilemma and Decision

Esther 5:1-7:10 Sleepless in Susa

Esther 8:1-10:3 The Feast of Purim- A Jewish Mardi Gras

C J Ellicott, Ed.
R. Sinker on Esther
Old Testament Commentary for English Readers

Esther Introduction

Esther 1

Esther 2

Esther 3

Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6

Esther 7

Esther   8

Esther   9

Esther 10

Explore the Bible
Commentary
on Esther

Esther 2:5-10,16-17,21-23 - When Life Turns Upside Down
Esther 3:2,5-6; 4:5,8-16  --
When Service Is Risky
Esther 5:1-3; 7:1-6,9-10 --
How Courage Triumphs
Esther 8:3,6-8,11; 9:1-2,20-22 --
What Is Worth Celebrating

A C Gaebelein
Commentary on Esther
The Annotated Bible
Introduction

Esther 1

Esther 2

Esther 3

Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6
Esther 7

Esther   8

Esther   9

Esther 10

John Gill
Commentary on Esther

Esther 1

Esther 2

Esther 3

Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6
Esther 7

 

Esther   8

Esther   9

Esther 10

 

Joe Guglielmo
Sermon Notes
on Esther

Esther 1-3
Esther 4-6
Esther 7-10

Esther 3:16 A Man After the Flesh
Esther 4:13-17 Such a Time as This
Esther 8:4-14 How Can I Endure Evil?

Dave Guzik
Commentary on Esther
 Brief Notes from Conservative, Evangelical, Millennial Perspective

Esther 1

Esther 2

Esther 3

Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6

Esther 7

Esther   8

Esther   9

Esther 10

 

John Kitto
The Pictorial Bible - Esther
with 20 B&W pictures
Introduction

Esther 1

Esther 2

Esther 3

Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6

Esther 7

Esther   8

Esther   9

Esther 10

George Lawson
Discourses on the Whole Book of Esther

(1809)
Introduction

Esther 1:1-9
Esther 1:10-22

Esther 2:1-11
Esther 2:12-23

Esther 3:1-6

Esther 3:7-15
Esther 4:1-11
Esther 4:12-17
Esther 5:1-14
Esther 6:1-13

Esther 6:14-7:10

Esther 8:1-14

Esther 8:15-9:5

Esther 9:6-19
Esther 9:20-32

Esther 10

Logos Sermons
Sermons.Logos.com
Various Pastors - Be a Berean Acts 17:11

Esther 1 Who's In Charge?
Esther 2:1-18 Nothing Can Stand in the Way of God's Providence
Esther 2-9 God's Providence
Esther 2 Born for Destiny

Esther 2:21-3:15 An Evil Interlude
Esther 4:14 Touch the World, Impact Eternity
Esther 4 For Such a Time as This

Esther 4 Speaking the Truth - Regardless

Esther 5 Will Evil Triumph?

Esther 6 What Goes Round Comes Round

Esther 7 God's Surprising Sovereignty

Esther 8 At the End of the Day

Esther 8 And the Wall Come Tumbling Down
Esther 9,10 Celebrate in the End God Wins

Esther - 9 Part Bible Study - Interesting

Esther - 9 Purim vs Thanksgiving
Esther - Sermons Seeds on Each Chapter
Esther - God's Economy
Esther - Purim
Esther Sermon

Alexander Maclaren
Sermons on Esther
Sermons on Esther - Pdf

Esther 3:1-11 The Net Spread
Esther 4:10-17, 5:1-3 Esther's Venture
Esther 4:14 Mordecai and Esther
Esther 8:3-8, 15-17 The Net Broken

J Vernon McGee
Commentary on Esther
Thru the Bible
Mp3's
Complete Book of Esther on one file

Esther Intro.mp3 
Esther What is Providence?

Esther Understanding Providence

Esther 1:1-3.mp3
 
Esther 1:4-6.mp3
 
Esther 1:7-11.mp3

Esther 1:12-16 mp3

Esther 1:17-22.mp3

Esther 2:1-3.mp3
 
Esther 2:4-6.mp3
  
Esther 2:7-8.mp3
 
Esther 2:9-11.mp3

Esther 2:12-15 mp3
  
Esther 2:16-20.mp3
  
Esther 2:21-23 mp3

Esther 3:1.mp3
   
Esther 3:2-4.mp3
 
Esther 3:5-6.mp3
 
Esther 3:17-10.mp3

Esther 3:11-13 mp3

Esther 3:14-15. mp3

Esther 4:1-2.mp3 
Esther 4:3-4.mp3 
Esther 4:5-11.mp3

Esther 4:12-17.mp3

Esther 5:1-3.mp3
 
Esther 5:4.mp3
   
Esther 5:5-11.mp3

Esther 5:12-14 mp3

Esther 6:1.mp3
   
Esther 6:2-6.mp3
 
Esther 6:7-14.mp3

Esther 7:1-4.mp3
 
Esther 7:5.mp3
   
Esther 7:6-10.mp3

Esther 8:1-6.mp3
 
Esther 8:7-13.mp3

Esther 8:14-17 mp3

Esther 9 Intro mp3

Esther 9:1-3.mp3
 
Esther 9:4-32.mp3

Esther 10:1-3: mp3

F B Meyer
Our Daily Homily
Esther

Esther 1
Esther 2
Esther 3
Esther 4

Esther 5

Esther 6

Esther 7
Esther 8

Esther 9

Esther 10

Miscellaneous Resources
Conservative, Evangelical

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Examples of articles that mention Esther...

“For Such a Time as This”: A Defining Moment in Christian Ministry
Location Of Esther’s Palace Confirmed
Esther and History
An Investigation of Esther As An Episode of Covenant History in a Foreign Court
Archaeological Backgrounds of the Exilic &Postexilic Era 2: The Archaeological Background of Esther

Addition To The Sum Of Revelation, Found In The Book Of Esther
Shadow and Fulfillment in the Book of Esther
Historicity, Genre, and Narrative Design in the Book of Esther
The Book Of Esther
Plot Structure in the Book of Esther
Literary Conventions in the Book of Esther
But Did They Live Happily Ever After? The Eschatology of the Book of Esther
The Book Of Esther And The Palace Of Ahasuerus
Post-Exilic Hebrew Linguistic Developments In Esther: A Diachronic Approach
Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives

SERMONS, DEVOTIONALS,
OUTLINES, etc
ESTHER

Survey of the Book of Esther - God's Providential Hand Gregg Allen
For Such a Time as This Brent Barnett

Queen Esther - 90' Movie Online

eBiblemovies.com

Esther Articles

Bible.org
Esther 1   2   3   4   5:1-8   6   7   8   9   10 Biblical Art
Theology of Esther in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Mark W. Chavalas
Esther – Irony and Providence Donald E. Curtis
Esther, Book of
Esther, The Rest Of (Discusses verses in Septuagint not in Hebrew)

Esther - art, overview articles of her life
Esther, The Book of
Dictionary Articles
Book of Esther and the Palace of Ahasuerus - 28 page article M. Dieulafoy
For Such a Time as This Bob Fromm
Sermons on Esther by chapter The Gospel Coalition
Esther Mp3's - 10 sermons - Audio Only Grace Baptist Church
Esther The Story Behind Purim Mart De Haan

Esther's Story

The Setting of Esther

Esther- Act 1

Esther- Act 2

Esther- The Grand Finale

Sandra Glahn
Susie Hawkins

Probing Moral Ambiguity: Grappling with Ethical Portraits in the Hebrew Story of Esther - interesting

Charles Harvey
The Historical Books J. Hampton Keathley, III

Holman Christian Standard Bible Study Bible - very literal translation with well done study notes, simple word study & dictionary tools that synchronize with the Scripture

Holman Publishing
The Providence of God Preceptaustin
Gospel in the book of Esther 1. The Doom of the People
Gospel in the book of Esther 2. Esther at the Court for Her People
Gospel in the book of Esther 3. Haman Hanged on His Gallows
Gospel in the book of Esther 4. The Exaltation of Mordecai
Gospel in the book of Esther 5. Mordecai Speaks Peace
Roy Hession
Audio Only

Esther Introduction - Only in Mp3 but recommended because as a Jewish believer in Messiah, Pastor Kreloff brings an interesting perspective
Esther 1:1-2:8 The Promotion Of Esther
Esther 2:19-3:6 The Plot Of Haman (Part 1)
Esther 3:7-15 The Plot Of Haman (Part 1)
Esther 4:1-5:14 The Preservation Of Israel (Part 1)

Esther 6:1-7:10 The Preservation Of Israel (Part 2)
Esther 8 The Preservation Of Israel (Part 3)
Esther 9-10 e Preservation Of Israel (Part 4)

Steve Kreloff

Esther - Same Introductory Notes as found in the MacArthur Study Bible

 

Outline of the Book of Esther

I. Esther Replaces Vashti (Esther 1:1–2:18)

A. Vashti’s Insubordination (Esther 1:1–22)
B. Esther’s Coronation (Esther 2:1–18)


II. Mordecai Overcomes Haman (Esther 2:19–7:10)

A. Mordecai’s Loyalty (Esther 2:19–23)
B. Haman’s Promotion and Decree (Esther 3:1–15)
C. Esther’s Intervention (Esther 4:1–5:14)
D. Mordecai’s Recognition (Esther 6:1–13)
E. Haman’s Fall (Esther 6:14–7:10)

 

III. Israel Survives Haman’s Genocide Attempt (Esther 8:1–10:3)

A. Esther and Mordecai’s Advocacy (Esther 8:1–17)
B. The Jews’ Victory (Esther 9:1–19)
C. Purim’s Beginning (Esther 9:20–23)
D. Mordecai’s Fame (Esther 10:1–3)

John MacArthur

An Introduction to the Book of Esther

Selected Bibliography of the Book of Esther

Argument of the Book of Esther

David Malick
Esther & Job Introductory Notes J Vernon McGee
Esther Mp3 Series - 15 links Monergism.com
Esther Overview G. Campbell Morgan
Keys to Esther William W. Orr
Esther Mp3's - 8 sermons - Audio Only David Patterson
Esther - Through the Bible Book by Book Myer Pearlman
Esther Mp3's - 11 sermons - Audio Only Vern Piknally
Ezra & Nehemiah: Restoration & Reform
Chronology of History of Israel
Wil Pounds
The Book of Esther (overview) Arend Remmers
Study of the Book of Esther Don Robinson
The Book of Esther Juan Sanchez
An Introduction to the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther A H Sayce
Esther Sermons - search list of 252 sermons SermonCentral
Esther Sermons Sermons.Logos.com
Public Spirit (alludes to Esther) James Stalker

Esther - A Queen Under Control
The Way Back: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther - Transcript  or Mp3

Ray Stedman
For Such a Time as This: The Story of Ahasuerus and Esther Richard L. Strauss
Esther Mp3's - 5 sermons - Audio Only Geoff Thomas
Analysis of Esther James Van Dine

COMMENTARIES
ESTHER

Esther: Barnes Notes (type in book/chap in "Bible Search") Albert Barnes
Esther: God is in Control - Easy English Commentary Robert Bryce
An Explanatory Commentary on Esther (1888) Paulus Cassel
Lectures, Expository and Practical on the Book of Esther (1859) Alexander D Davidson
Esther in "A Commentary on the Holy Bible" - brief comments J R Dummelow, Ed.
God in the Shadows - The Life of Esther - Recommended Paul S Ferguson
Comments on the Book of Esther L M Grant
Esther and Her People - A Practical Exposition in 10 Lectures (1842) John Hughes
The Book of Esther
Esther Notes
William Kelly
Esther and Her Times - a series of 12 lectures (1859) John Lowrie
Lectures on the Book of Esther: (1838)
Esther 1:1-9
Esther 1:10-22
Esther 2:5-11, 15-20
Esther 2:21-23, 3:1-6
Esther 3:6-15
Esther 4:1-12
Esther 4:13-17
Esther 4:15-17; 5:1-8
Esther 5:9-14
Esther 6:1-11
Esther 6:12-14
Esther 7:1-6
Esther 7:7-10
Esther 8:1-5
Esther 8:7-17
Esther 9:1-16
Esther 9:17-32
Esther 10
Thomas M'Crie

Esther - Lessons from Union Bible College - go to Page 303 - brief but interesting

William Newell
Esther Commentary Bob Utley
The Book of Esther William Kelly

Devotional Commentary on the Book of Esther chapter by chapter - Recommended

Moody Bible

ESTHER 1

Esther 1-2 Commentary - Verse by Verse Preceptaustin.org
Esther 1 God is In Control Mark Barnes

Esther 1-10 Maximizing Ministry Potential

Brian Bill

Esther 1:11 The Persian Court (In "Daily Bible Illustrations)

John Kitto

Esther 1, 2 - A Pair of Queens

Ray Stedman
Esther 1:1-2: The Providence of God in the Land of Persia
Esther 1:1-2: Sex and Marriage in Persia
Geoff Thomas
Esther 1:5 The Court of the House - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
Esther 1:6 Curtains/Couches - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
Esther 1:8 Drinking Customs - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
Esther 1:9 Feasts for the Women - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
Esther 1:10 Chamberlains - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
James Freeman
Esther 1-2: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times
Table of Contents of Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times
J G Bellet

ESTHER 2

Esther 1-2 Commentary - Verse by Verse Preceptaustin.org

Esther 1, 2 - A Pair of Queens

Ray Stedman
Esther 1-2: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times
Table of Contents of Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times
J G Bellet
Esther 2:5-10 The Silent Sovereignty of God Audio Tim Keller
Esther 2:1-18 Nothing Can Stand in the Way of God's Providence Mark Barnes
Esther 2:13 The Royal Harem - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
Esther 2:16 Tebeth- Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
Esther 2:17 The Persian Queen - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
James Freeman
Esther 2:21-3:2: The humbling of the people of God Geoff Thomas

ESTHER 3

Esther 3 The Struggle for Power

Ray Stedman

Esther 3:1-15 Lessons from Esther

Jim Twamley
Esther 3:1 The Man the King Delights to Honor Audio Tim Keller
Esther 3: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times
Table of Contents of Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times
J G Bellet

Esther 3-4   Haman's Plot Against the Jews

J R Miller

Esther 3-10 Providence (In "Daily Bible Illustrations)

John Kitto

ESTHER 4

Esther 4 Good Grief

Ray Stedman
Esther 4:5-17 If I Perish, I Perish Audio Tim Keller
Esther 4:8-10 Hathach J R Miller

Esther 4:11 Etiquette of the Persian Court - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs

James Freeman
Esther 4 Marching Off the Map (or a similar message here)
Esther 4:12-16 Overcoming Fear of the Future
Esther 4:14 For Such A Time As This
Ray Pritchard
Esther 4:12-14: God's great deliverance Geoff Thomas
Esther 4:13,1 4- Esther's Exaltation C H Spurgeon
Esther 4:13-14 Comments
Esther 4:15-16 Comments
Preacher's Homiletical Commentary Various Authors
Esther 4:14- The Day We Live In T De Witt Talmage
Esther 4:15-16 Sacrifice Charles Stalker
Esther 4-5: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times J G Bellet
Esther 4:14 The Strength of Joy - 14 pages! (Great Texts of the Bible) James Hastings
Esther 4:16 Devotional (Goto April 15 entry) J C Philpot

ESTHER 5

Esther 5 Soul and Spirit

Ray Stedman

Esther 5:12 Feasting with the King - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs

James Freeman
Esther 4-5: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times J G Bellet

Esther 3-10 Providence (In "Daily Bible Illustrations)

John Kitto

ESTHER 6

Esther 6 The Price of Survival

Ray Stedman

Esther 6:8 Royal Honors Given to a Subject - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs

James Freeman
Esther 6-7: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times J G Bellet

Esther 3-10 Providence (In "Daily Bible Illustrations)

John Kitto

ESTHER 7

Esther 7 Haman's Last Supper

Ray Stedman
Esther 6-7: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times J G Bellet
Esther 7:1-4 The tables are turned Geoff Thomas
Esther 7:1-10, 9:20-23 Rest from Our Enemies Audio Tim Keller

Esther 7:7 Sign of Royal Displeasure - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs
Esther 7:8 The Face Covered - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs

James Freeman

Esther 3-10 Providence (In "Daily Bible Illustrations)

John Kitto

ESTHER 8

Esther 8 Esther Pleading for Her People (Scroll down to Esther 8)

J R Miller

Esther 8 The Law of the Spirit

Ray Stedman

Esther 8:9 Sivan - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs

James Freeman
Esther 8-10: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times J G Bellet

ESTHER 9

Esther 9:1- Providence - As Seen in the Book of Esther C H Spurgeon

Esther 9:1-16 The Sweet Taste of Victory

Esther 9:17-10:3 A Day to Remember

Ray Stedman

Esther 9:26  The Feast of Purim - Handbook of Bible Manners & Customs

James Freeman
Esther 8-10: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times J G Bellet

The Temple--It's Ministry and Services - Chapter 17 - scroll down for Feast of Purim Table of Contents of The Temple--Its Ministry and Services

Alfred Edersheim

Esther 3-10 Providence (In "Daily Bible Illustrations)

John Kitto

ESTHER 10

Esther 9:17-10:3 A Day to Remember

Ray Stedman
Esther 10:3 He worked for the good of his people C H Spurgeon
Esther 8-10: Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times
Table of Contents of Witnesses for God In Dark and Evil Times
J G Bellet

Esther 3-10 Providence (In "Daily Bible Illustrations)

John Kitto

G Campbell Morgan
Living Messages of the Books of the Bible
Click for Excellent Overview of Esther
See also - G Campbell Morgan's Esther in the Analyzed Bible

THE MESSAGE OF ESTHER

A. THE PERMANENT VALUE
GOD acting in Providence.

 

I. The Method

i. Hidden but Active.

a. Ruling to Issues (Esther 10:3.)

b. Using the Trivialities.

1. Before the Peril.

2. In the midst of the Peril.

ii. Inclusive. An all-pervading Atmosphere.

a. The Individuals.

b. The Events.

 

II. The Principles

i. Perfect Knowledge.

ii. Undeviating Righteousness.

iii. Absolute Power.


III. The Issues

i. To those recognizing. Confidence and Courage.

ii. To those in Rebellion, Panic and Punishment.

 

B. THE LIVING MESSAGE

I. The Truth

i. GOD is.

ii. GOD acts in Providence.

iii. GOD is touching Life at every Point.

 

II. The Application

i. Reckon with Him.

ii. Trust Him.

iii. Act with Him.

 

Morgan - "There are peculiarities in this story which have raised doubts as to whether it ought to have any place in the canon of Scripture. (1) the name of GOD is never mentioned. (2) there is found no reference to the Hebrew religion. (3) the temple never appears. (4) no ceremonial of the Hebrew worship is referred to. (5) no requirement of the law is named from beginning to end." (Click full message)

Net Bible Notes
Esther Commentary Notes

Comment: More Technical notes but you will often discover some very helpful insights. The links below open to the NET Bible which is synchronized with the NET Notes, Constable's Commentary and relevant articles (click the tab labeled "Articles") on the Bible.org website. Very helpful!

Esther 1 Commentary
Esther 2 Commentary

Esther 3 Commentary

Esther 4 Commentary
Esther 5 Commentary
Esther 6 Commentary
Esther 7 Commentary
Esther 8 Commentary
Esther 9 Commentary

Our Daily Bread
Devotional illustrations on Esther
RBC Ministries
Updated November, 2010

Esther 1:1, 12-18 Behind the Throne
Esther 1:1-5, 9-12 Respect
Esther 1:1-9 No Bad News
Esther 3:1-7 Danger
Esther 3:1-11, 7:1-10 Poetic Justice
Esther 4:10-17 The Price of Freedom
Esther 4:10-13 The Adventure
Esther 4 (several devotionals)
Esther 8:1-17 What Is My Purpose?
Esther 9:20-28

Joseph Parker
Commentary on Esther
People's Bible
Index

Esther 1 The Opening

Esther 2-4 Progress

Esther 5-6 The Request of Esther

Esther 7:6 The Index Finger

Esther 7-10 Reprisals

L B Paton
The International Critical Commentary
1908

Esther Commentary
Esther - Intro >100 pages!
Esther 1 Commentary
Esther 2 Commentary
Esther 3 Commentary
Esther 4 Commentary

Esther 5 Commentary
Esther 6 Commentary
Esther 7 Commentary
Esther 8 Commentary
Esther 9 Commentary
Esther 10 Commentary

Preacher's Homiletical Commentary
Esther
W Burrows
An Excellent Resource
1880
Contents
Index of Illustrations
Introduction

Esther 1 Critical Notes
Esther 1 Main Homiletics of the Whole Chapter
Esther 1:2 Time's Doings with Human Greatness
Esther 1:1-2 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:3-5 Contrast Between the Human and the Divine
Esther 1:3-5 A Feast for all the People
Esther 1:3-5 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:4,6 Self Glorification
Esther 1:4,6 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:7-8 Unwise Liberality, but Wise Regulation
Esther 1:7-8 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:9 Vashti the Persian Monarch's Queen
Esther 1:9 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:10, 14 A Catalogue of Names
Esther 1:13-14 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:10-12 False Merriment and its Result
Esther 1:10-12 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:10-12 Vashti's Dilemma
Esther 1:10-12 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:13-14 Seven Wise Men
Esther 1:13-14 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:15 A King in Consultation
Esther 1:15 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:16-20 Courtiers Forsake a Failing Cause
Esther 1:16-20 The Folly of Trusting in Man
Esther 1:16-20 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1:21-22 Vashti is Stripped of Queenly Externals
Esther 1:21-22 Suggestive Comments
Esther 1 - Illustrations

Esther 2 Critical Notes
Esther 2:1 Regrets-Natural, Useless and Wholesome
Esther 2:1 Suggestive Comments
Esther 2:2-4 The Servility of the King's Servants
Esther 2:2-4 Suggestive Comments
Esther 2:5-7 A Truly Royal Character
Esther 2:5-7 Suggestive Comments
Esther 2:8-10 Esther's Hopeful Beginning
Esther 2:8-10 Suggestive Comments
Esther 2 - Illustrations
Esther 2:11 Mordecai's Loving Solicitude
Esther 2:11 Suggestive Comments
Esther 2:12-14 The Vanity of Earthly Hopes
Esther 2:12-14 Suggestive Comments
Esther 2:15, 20 Esther's Elevation
Esther 2:15 Suggestive Comments
Esther 2:21, 23 The Plotters and the Counterplotter
Esther 2:21, 23 Suggestive Comments
Esther 2 - Illustrations

Esther 3 Critical Notes
Esther 3:1,6 The Prosperous Wicked Man
Esther 3:1,6 Suggestive Comments
Esther 3:7 The Blind Method of Revenge
Esther 3:7 Suggestive Comments
Esther 3:8-11 A False Aspect of the Truth
Esther 3:8-11 Haman's Murderous Proposal
Esther 3:8-11 Suggestive Comments
Esther 3:12-14 Fruitless Preparations
Esther 3:12-14 Suggestive Comments
Esther 3:15 The irregularities of Human Conditions
Esther 3:15 Suggestive Comments
Esther 3 - Illustrations

Esther 4 Critical Notes
Esther 4:1-4 Great Sorrow
Esther 4:1-4 Suggestive Comments
Esther 4:4 The Action of Sympathy Rejected
Esther 4:4 Suggestive Comments
Esther 4:5-6 A Ministerial Appointment
Esther 4:5-6 Suggestive Comments
Esther 4:6-9 A Strange Meeting
Esther 4:6-9 Suggestive Comments
Esther 4:10-12 Prudential Considerations
Esther 4:10-12 Suggestive Comments
Esther 4:13-14 A Human Voice Speaks Divine Lessons for Human Lives
Esther 4:14 God's Purpose and Man's Opportunity
Esther 4:13-14 Suggestive Comments
Esther 4:15-16 A Woman's Heroism
Esther 4:15-16 Suggestive Comments
Esther 4:17 A Good Man's Characteristics
Esther 4:17 Suggestive Comments
Esther 4 - Illustrations

Esther 5 Critical Notes
Esther 5:1-2 The Royalty of Faith
Esther 5:1-2 Suggestive Comments
Esther 5:3-5 A Large Offer and Some of Its Consequences
Esther 5:3-5 Suggestive Comments
Esther 5:6-8 Directions for Prayer
Esther 5:6-8 Suggestive Comments
Esther 5:9-10 The Superficial Man
Esther 5:9-10 Suggestive Comments
Esther 5:11, 13 The Discontented Man as a Reckoner
Esther 5:11-13 Suggestive Comments
Esther 5:14 The Speech of a Foolish Wife
Esther 5:14 Suggestive Comments
Esther 5 - Illustrations

Esther 6 Critical Notes
Esther 6:1 A Humiliated King
Esther 6:1 Suggestive Comments
Esther 6:2-3 A King's Sorrow for an Unrewarded Subject
Esther 6:2-3 Suggestive Comments
Esther 6:4-5 The King's Inquiry and Concession
Esther 6:4-5 Suggestive Comments
Esther 6:6, 11 Self-Flattery Leading to Self-Humiliation
Esther 6:6,11 Suggestive Comments
Esther 6:12-14 A Small Man in Adversity
Esther 6:12-14 Suggestive Comments
Esther 6 - Illustrations

Esther 7 Critical Notes
Esther 7:1-4 A Strange Banquet
Esther 7:1-4 Suggestive Comments
Esther 7:5-6 The Doings of a Wicked Heart
Esther 7:5-6 Suggestive Comments
Esther 7:7,10 The Fear, the Folly, and the Doom of the Evil-Doer
Esther 7:7-10 Suggestive Comments
Esther 7 - Illustrations

Esther 8 Critical Notes
Esther 8:1-2 Sudden but Wise Changes
Esther 8:1-2 Suggestive Comments
Esther 8:3-4 Sin Survives the Sinner
Esther 8:3-4 Suggestive Comments
Esther 8:5-6 The Pleading of a Great Passion
Esther 8:5-6 Suggestive Comments
Esther 8:7-8 A Monarch's Imbecility
Esther 8:7-8 Suggestive Comments
Esther 8:9-22 Evil Counteracted
Esther 8:9-14 Suggestive Comments
Esther 8:15-17 Days of Rejoicing
Esther 8:15-17 Suggestive Comments
Esther 8 - Illustrations

Esther 9 Critical Notes
Esther 9:1 Hope and Foreboding
Esther 9:1 Suggestive Comments
Esther 9:2-3 Self-Help Brings Help
Esther 9:2-3 Suggestive Comments
Esther 9:4 The Greatness of Goodness
Esther 9:4 Suggestive Comments
Esther 9:5-11 The Fate of Evil-Doers
Esther 9:5-11 Suggestive Comments
Esther 9:12-16 The Rigor of Justice
Esther 9:12-16 Suggestive Comments
Esther 9:17-28 A National Memorial
Esther 9:17-28 Suggestive Comments
Esther 9:29-32 Important Letters
Esther 9:29-32 Suggestive Comments
Esther 10 - Illustrations

Esther 10 Critical Notes
Esther 10:1,3 A Good Government
Esther 10:1-2 Suggestive Comments
Esther 10 - Illustrations

Pulpit Commentary
Esther
Introduction to Esther
Homiletical Index to Esther

Esther 1:1-9 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

 

Esther 1:10-22 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther 1 Homilies

 

Esther 2:1-18 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

 

Esther 2:19-23 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

 

Esther 3:1-6 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

 

Esther 3:7-15 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

 

Esther 4:1-17 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

Esther 5:1-8 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies


Esther 5:9-14 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

Esther 6:1-11 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

Esther 7:1-10 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

Esther 8:1-17 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

 

Esther 9:1-16 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

 

Esther 10 Exposition
Esther Homiletics
Esther Homilies

Rob Salvato
Teaching Series on Esther
Intro Picture

Esther 1:1-2:20 For Such a Time as This
Esther 2 The Beauty Of The Pageant
Esther 3 Esther
Esther 5-7 Navigating Through The Fog
Esther 8-10 Vengeance or Validation

W. Schultz
Lange's Commentary

Commentary on Esther

Esther Commentary
Esther - Intro
Esther 1 Commentary
Esther 2 Commentary
Esther 3 Commentary
Esther 4 Commentary

Esther 5 Commentary
Esther 6 Commentary
Esther 7 Commentary
Esther 8 Commentary
Esther 9 Commentary
Esther 10 Commentary

Charles Simeon
Sermons on Esther

Esther 3:8,9 Haman's Murderous Proposal

Esther 9:27, 28 The Feast of Purim

Chuck Smith
Sermons on Esther

Sermon on Esther 2:17

Sermon on Esther 4:13

Sermon on Esther 4:13b

Sermon on Esther 4:13c

Sermon on Esther 4:13d

Sermon on Esther 4:13e

Sermon on Esther 4:14

Sermon on Esther 4:14b

Sermon on Esther 7:10

 

Through the Bible Series
Esther 1-10

 

Chuck Smith's Audio Series on Esther

Speaker's Commentary
Commentary on Esther

Esther - Introduction
Esther 1 Commentary
Esther 2 Commentary
Esther 3 Commentary
Esther 4 Commentary
Esther 5 Commentary
Esther 6 Commentary
Esther 7 Commentary
Esther 8 Commentary
Esther 9 Commentary
Esther 10 Commentary

C. H. Spurgeon
All His Sermons on Esther

Esther 4:13,14- Esther's Exaltation
Esther 9:1- Providence - As Seen in the Book of Esther

C H Spurgeon
Devotionals from...
Morning and Evening

Esther 10:3 He worked for the good of his people

Today in the Word
Devotional Commentary on Esther

Esther 1:1-8
Esther 1:9-15
Esther 1:16-22
Esther 2:1-4
Esther 2:5-7
Esther 2:7-11
Esther 2:12-13
Esther 2:15-18
Esther 2:19-23
Esther 3:1-6
Esther 3:7-14

Esther 3:15
Esther 4:1-8
Esther 4:1-17

Esther 4:9-14
Esther 4:14
Esther 4:15-17

Esther 5:1-8
Esther 5:9-10
Esther 5:11-17
Esther 6:1-6
Esther 6:6-11

Esther 6:12-14 Esther 7:1-8
Esther 7:1-10
Esther 7:8-9
Esther 8:1-2
Esther 8:3-14
Esther 8:15-17
Esther 9:1-16
Esther 9:17-23
Esther 9:24-32
Esther 10:1-3

Bob Utley
Commentary on Esther
Appendix - Kings & Events of Babylonian, Persian, Greek Dynasties
Chart of entire OT on One Page
Timeline of the Post-Exilic Period

Esther - Intro
Esther 1 Commentary
Esther 2 Commentary
Esther 3 Commentary
Esther 4 Commentary

Esther 5 Commentary
Esther 6 Commentary
Esther 7 Commentary
Esther 8 Commentary
Esther 9 Commentary
Esther 10 Commentary

 

OUR DAILY BREAD
Devotionals

1a
Esther 1:1, 12-18

Behind The Throne - (Daniel 2:21) During my lifetime I have seen evil men rise to political and military power, make colossal blunders, and pass off the scene. Even good leaders leave a record that includes mistakes and weaknesses.

The first chapter of Esther shows us the pride of King Ahasuerus, head of the mighty Persian Empire. He hosted an elaborate festival designed to display his riches and splendor. After 7 days of partying, the king gave orders to his servants to bring Vashti, his queen, before the revelers so they could see her great beauty. But Queen Vashti refused to come, humiliating the great king of Persia (vv.12-18).

Ahasuerus was furious and sought counsel from the wise men of his kingdom. They advised him to remove Vashti as queen and "give her royal position to another who is better than she" (v.19). God used these unusual events to place a Jewish girl in a strategic position to preserve His people from destruction.

God's name is not mentioned in the entire book of Esther, but the message in chapter 1 comes through loud and clear: God can bring good out of everything, even when flawed and mistake-prone humans are involved. He is the real power behind the throne.— Herbert Vander Lugt (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

We comprehend Him not,
Yet earth and heaven tell,
God sits as sovereign on the throne,
And ruleth all things well. —Gerhardt

The most powerful ruler is but a pawn in the hand of the King of kings.

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No Bad News - The unwillingness to listen to bad news has been blamed for everything from space shuttle disasters to corporate collapses to the spread of terrorism. Lengthy studies aren't needed to determine why this happens. Bad news reveals problems; problems require solutions; solutions cost time, money, and energy we would rather spend celebrating past successes.

This isn't new to our century. In the 5th century BC, King Ahasuerus of Persia refused to allow mourners to enter his gates (Esther 4:1, 2). One commentator suggests that he preferred to surround himself with people who were awed by his wealth and were eager to attend his lavish parties (Esther 1:4). His reluctance to be bothered by bad news nearly resulted in the annihilation of the Jewish people.

Contrast the leadership of Ahasuerus with that of Jesus, who said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Ahasuerus ruled his kingdom by allowing only happy people to enter his presence. Jesus builds His kingdom by welcoming the burdened and sorrowful into His presence. What's more, Jesus not only invites us to tell Him our bad news, He has the willingness and the power to turn our most troubling circumstances into a celebration of praise. — Julie Ackerman Link
 (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

I walked life's path with worry,
Disturbed and quite unblest,
Until I trusted Jesus;
Now faith has giv'n me rest. —Bosch

The gospel is bad news to those who reject it
and good news to those who receive it.
 

1
Esther 3:1-7, Esther 7:1-10 

Danger! - The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. --Proverbs 11:3

Haman had enormous power in Ahasuerus' kingdom, but he wanted more. When Mordecai the Jew would not bow to his arrogance, Haman was not content just to get even. He wanted to destroy all the Jews in Persia. But his lust for revenge cost him his own life (Est. 7:10).

So too, we today can self-destruct on our own pride, selfishness, greed, lust, or thirst for revenge.

According to Daniel Schaeffer in his book Dancing With A Shadow, the Eskimos devised a way of killing wolves. They planted a knife in the ice with the handle buried. Then they put chunks of fresh meat on the blade and let it freeze. The wolves would smell the blood from afar and come to devour it. As they licked the frozen meat, they worked themselves into a frenzy. Soon they cut their tongues on the razor-sharp blade and began feeding their hunger with their own blood. They would lick until they slowly bled to death.

When we fail to recognize the danger of sin and allow ourselves to become obsessed with it, we are in danger of self-destruction--as was Haman. To avoid that end, let's daily open our hearts and lives to God's examination, and ask Him to forgive us for the sin He exposes. --D C Egner 
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

O Lord, if I am full of self,
I can be blind to danger;
I would be free from pride and greed,
To anger be a stranger. --Hess

Self-indulgence leads to self-destruction.

Esther 3:1-6
Refusing Orders  -
According to a recent study among doctors, their most common aggravation (next to patients who do not pay their bills) is patients who refuse to obey the doctor’s orders. It is estimated that as many as 90 percent of all patients leave half-used prescription bottles, cheat on diets, continue to smoke, or never return for checkups. Often this neglect proves detrimental to the patient’s health. Sometimes it’s fatal. There was an incident in Israel’s past which had a similar effect on the nation. In 1Samuel 15 we read that God commanded Saul to eradicate the decadent Amalekites, including their livestock and their king, Agag. Saul chose to obey God halfway, defeating the Amalekites, but sparing their leader with some of the populace and the choicest of the livestock. Through His prophet Samuel, God condemned Saul’s disregard for His command, and rejected Saul as king. Samuel then executed Agag, though apparently some of the king’s subjects and descendants escaped to parts unknown.

And so it is in the Book of Esther, some 400 years after Saul failed to eradicate a people bent against the people of God, that Mordecai is confronted with a descendant of Agag (Haman) who is equally hostile to God’s people. Today in the Word, May, 1989

2
Esther 4:10-17 

The Price of Freedom - I will go to the king...and if I perish, I perish. --Esther 4:16

When I talked to young men shortly before D-day during World War II, I observed that they were scared. None of them wanted to die. However, the vast majority expressed their conviction that the cause for which they were fighting was right and worthy of the risk.

Queen Esther had similar feelings. She didn't want to die. She called for a 3-day fast to acknowledge her need for God's special help. According to Persian custom, if she went uninvited to the king and he was displeased, he could order her execution even though she was his wife. Yet Esther loved her people enough to take that risk.

Today in the United States, we honor the men and women who died in the service of their country. Their sense of patriotism compelled them to put their lives on the line. Whether they had volunteered or had been drafted, they joined in the defense of their homeland. Sometimes they traveled to faraway places to support other countries in a fight for freedom. They risked their all and died.

Just as we are indebted to those who died to make freedom possible, so we ought to thank God for His Son who died to set us free from the bondage of sin. On this day we have much to be thankful for. --H V Lugt
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, keep us mindful of the cost,
The price of liberty--
Brave men and women gave their lives
To conquer tyranny. --DJD

The price of our freedom from sin was paid in blood.

Esther 4 

Your Place In Time - Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? —Esther 4:14

During a visit to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, I was intrigued by an exhibit called "Your Place In Time." It was a nostalgic and revealing walk through displays of national and world events. This included popular entertainment and living conditions in the United States for people in the War Generation, the Eisenhower Generation, the Baby Boomers, and beyond. I left with the inescapable conclusion that though you and I cannot choose the period of history in which we live, we must decide how we will live during our place in time.

This truth is illustrated by the courageous actions of young Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai. When a hate-filled man named Haman sought to destroy their people, Mordecai urged Esther to risk approaching the king on their behalf. He said, "Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14). It's an important question that every Christian should consider.

Like Esther, each of us is a unique individual in history. Our birth was no accident and neither is God's call to be His representatives wherever we live, work, or go to school. It's a great privilege to belong to Christ and a high calling to stand boldly for Him during our place in time. —D C McCasland 
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

All things work out for good we know—
Such is God's great design;
He orders all our steps below
For purposes divine. —Peterson © 1961 Singspiration, Inc.

Every child of God has a special place in His plan.

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For Such A Time As This - When Sha’Ri Eggum was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, doctors told her that only a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative could save her life. Complicating matters, Eggum, 32, was adopted and didn’t know anything about her biological family. But a private investigator tracked down her brother, Mike Ford, who was a perfect match. Today, Eggum’s leukemia is in remission. Ford was the right person for the right moment.

The book of Esther tells another story of love, sacrifice, and God’s timing. Mordecai, a Jew in exile, refused to bow to Haman, second in command to King Ahasuerus. Haman became furious and plotted to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews. So Haman deceived the king and persuaded him to issue an edict condemning the Jews to death. When Mordecai told his cousin Queen Esther about the edict, he urged her to intervene. “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” he said (v.14). Approaching the king uninvited was punishable by death. But Esther seized the moment to save her people!

When we are able to rescue others, we should do so at all costs. Ask God for His direction and act! He may have placed you here “for such a time as this.”— Marvin Williams
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

O for a faith that will not shrink
Though pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe. —Bathurst

Courage is not the absence of fear—it is the mastery of it.

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The Adventure (Esther 4:13, 14, 15, 16, 17) - When I was about 7, I was in the car with my mom and two sisters when my mother pulled over to the side of the road to study the map. “Are we lost, Mom?” I was worried.

“Oh, no,” she replied cheerfully, quickly folding up the map. “We’re on an adventure.” My sisters and I exchanged doubtful glances as one of them whispered knowingly, “We’re lost.”

Adventures can be fun—and scary. They usually involve a bit of the unknown. As we walk in fellowship with God, it’s likely that our lives will have many unique adventures—opportunities to serve Him. If we’re reluctant or scared and we turn down an opportunity, we miss out. Will God still get the job done? Of course. But someone else will receive the blessing.

In Esther 4, Mordecai encouraged the young queen Esther to help rescue her people. He cautioned: “If you remain completely silent . . . 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?” (Esther 4:14).

Esther was naturally frightened to take this assignment. But God used her courage and faith to deliver her people. Trust God to show you the way. Adventure ahead! — Cindy Hess Kasper
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

For life’s adventure, Lord, I ask
Courage and faith for every task;
A heart kept clean by high desire,
A conscience purged by holy fire. —McDermand

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

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The Greatest Honor (Esther 4:13, 14, 15, 16, 17) - The king of Persia had signed a document calling for the extermination of all Jewish people under his rule. When the Jewish captive Mordecai heard the news, he challenged his niece, the newly crowned queen Esther, to plead for the lives of her people.

To approach the king uninvited could bring a sentence of death. Yet, for the sake of God's people, Esther took that risk.

During the 20th century, millions of Christians died as martyrs. This is a terrible tragedy, but we can take comfort in the knowledge that those who are killed for their devotion to Jesus die with the highest honor.

Corrie ten Boom's father saw this truth clearly. During WWII, a Dutch clergyman refused shelter to a baby, saying, "We could lose our lives for that Jewish child." Father ten Boom took the baby into his arms and said, "You say that we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family."

Most of us will never face a test like the ten Boom family and like Esther did. But all of us can take courage from their example. They knew that there is a fate worse than death.

To die for our service to God and our love for Him is indeed the greatest honor. — Herbert Vander Lugt 
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Life's labor done, as sinks the clay,
Light from its load the spirit flies,
While heaven and earth combine to say,
"How blest the righteous when he dies!" -Barbauld

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body."
-Jesus (Mt 10:28, cp Lk 12:4)

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Strong Convictions  (Esther 4:13, 14, 15, 16, 17) - During an interview, a former network news anchorman said that a "doctrinaire" person cannot be a good news reporter. He then defined a doctrinaire person as someone who has deep convictions of absolute truths in the areas of politics or religion.

If he meant that a reporter should present the truth in an objective manner, unaffected by personal biases, I would agree. But if he meant in a more general sense that we must not bring convictions of right and wrong to discussions of politics and religion, I would strongly disagree. After all, none of us would have political or religious freedom were it not for men and women who had convictions for which they were willing to die.

In the Old Testament, young Queen Esther was convinced that God had placed her in the palace to be His instrument for the preservation of her nation. Because of this, she risked her life by approaching the king without an invitation. Since then, millions of believers have taken similar risks, and many have died for their faith.

It is not a virtue to be stubborn over minor issues that are not addressed in Scripture. But on the essential issues of the Christian faith we should, like Esther, be willing to die for our convictions. — Herbert Vander Lugt
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Thinking It Over
Am I a person of deep conviction?
Am I willing to speak up and even be ridiculed for
holding to biblical standards of right and wrong?

Take a stand for Christ or you'll fall for anything.

Esther 9:20-28

Charity - Sell what you have and give alms. --Luke 12:33

Purim is one of the most unusual of the Jewish feast days. It was instituted to celebrate the death of Haman and the escape of the Jews. Today it is marked by reading the book of Esther (interrupted by raucous noisemakers whenever Haman's name is read) amid a party atmosphere.

Purim is also a time for charity, a concept rooted in the Old Testament (Dt. 15:7, 8; 26:12-13). The joy of Israel's deliverance from Haman's diabolical plot is expressed in generous charity to all who request it.

In his book Jewish Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin tells about a rabbi who felt so compelled to keep the day of Purim that he gave alms to two Jewish women who asked, even though he knew they were frauds.

Because we have been liberated from sin through Jesus Christ, we should be generous to the needy. From hearts of compassion, we are to be benevolent and help the poor. We won't be charitable, however, if our hearts are hardened by a self-protective spirit, or if we think charity is someone else's responsibility.

Christ commanded His followers to be charitable (Mt. 6:1, 2, 3, 4; 12:33), and He demonstrated charity by the ultimate gift of Himself. --D C Egner
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

You have bought us, and no longer
Can we claim to be our own;
Giving freely, naught withholding,
We shall serve You, Lord, alone. --Murray

The highest kind of giving
springs from deep within the heart.

Today in the Word

Esther 3:1-6
Refusing Orders

According to a recent study among doctors, their most common aggravation (next to patients who do not pay their bills) is patients who refuse to obey the doctor’s orders. It is estimated that as many as 90 percent of all patients leave half-used prescription bottles, cheat on diets, continue to smoke, or never return for checkups. Often this neglect proves detrimental to the patient’s health. Sometimes it’s fatal. There was an incident in Israel’s past which had a similar effect on the nation. In I Samuel 15 we read that God commanded Saul to eradicate the decadent Amalekites, including their livestock and their king, Agag. Saul chose to obey God halfway, defeating the Amalekites, but sparing their leader with some of the populace and the choicest of the livestock. Through His prophet Samuel, God condemned Saul’s disregard for His command, and rejected Saul as king. Samuel then executed Agag, though apparently some of the king’s subjects and descendants escaped to parts unknown.

And so it is in the Book of Esther, some 400 years after Saul failed to eradicate a people bent against the people of God, that Mordecai is confronted with a descendant of Agag (Haman) who is equally hostile to God’s people. - Today in the Word, May, 1989

Esther 7:1-10
The Inmate

Not long after the wealthy contractor had finished building the Tombs prison in New York, he was found guilty of forgery. When convicted, he was sentenced to several years in the prison he had built! As he was escorted into a cell of his own making he said, “I never dreamed when I built this prison that I would be an inmate one day.” - Today in the Word, May, 1989

 

Our Daily Homily
Book of Esther
F B Meyer

Esther 1

That every man should bear rule in his own house. Esther 1:22

ONE of the pre‑requisites in choosing a presiding officer in the early Church was that he should rule well his own house; "for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?" (1Ti 3:4,5).

When a man bears rule as husband and father in the love of God, there is no issue of commands which conflict with primary obligations; rather than that, his authority represents the Divine authority. As Christ received his authority from the Father, so does a man derive and receive his from Christ; and in the recognition of his delegated right and ability to lead, the entire household becomes well ordered. The relaxation of the bonds of authority and government in our homes is one of the saddest symptoms of national decay, as it is among the predicted signs of the end (2Ti 3:2-
note, 2Ti 3:3-note).

But, on the other hand, you must show yourself worthy to lead and rule your home. Your character must be such as to command respect. Those whom God has put into your charge require that you do not us your authority for selfish or capricious ends. Above all, love is the source of the truest authority. We count nothing hard or irksome that we do for those we love. Show love, and you will win love; and on love will be built respect, reverence, and obedience.

One of the most eloquent of modern Italians has said truly: "You can only obtain the exercise of your rights by deserving them, through your own activity, and your own spirit of love and sacrifice!" Christ's golden rule holds good in every phase of life ‑‑ "In all things, whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Mt 7:12-
note)


Esther 2

Hadassah, that is, Esther. Esther 2:7

THROUGH this one girl‑life God was about to save his people, though He was all the while hidden from view. The peculiarity of this book is that there is no mention of the name of God; but there is no book in the Bible more full of the presence and working of God for his own. His name is clearly in the watermark of the paper, if it do not appear in the print.

We know that the meshes of evil plotting were laid for the hurt of Israel long before the fatal decree was made for the destruction of the entire nation; but here we find that God has begun his preparations for deliverance long before. In the beauty of Esther, in the position her uncle held at court, in the favor she won with the king, in the discovery through Mordecai of the plot against the king's life, there are the materials of a great and Divine deliverance. God was clearly beforehand to the devil. The angels of light were on the ground before those of darkness were marshalled.

It is a sweet thought to carry with us always: God prepares of his goodness for the poor. He prepares the good work in which we are to walk, and the deliverances by which He will succor us in the hour of need. Do not dread the foe, be not fearful nor dismayed, as he draws his net around thee; God has prepared a way of escape, so that thou shalt be able to bear it. In the meanwhile, rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; trust in the Lord; wait for the Lord; be silent to the Lord. He is more farseeing, his plans more far‑reaching, his help more certain, than all the stratagems of evil. God laughs at them. Into the pit they have dug, thine enemies shall fall.
 


Esther 3

But Mordecai bowed not. Esther 3:2

THERE was stern stuff in this old Jew. He was not going to prostrate himself before one so haughty and so depraved as Haman, albeit that he was the king's favorite. To be the only one in a city office that does not laugh at the questionable story; to stand alone on shipboard against the gambling mania; to refuse to countenance cleverness which is divorced from cleanness, and genius which is apart from goodness ‑‑ this is to do as Mordecai did in the gate of the king's palace.

Only God can give this power, since of ourselves we are as reeds shaken by the wind. Sooner might a single ear of wheat resist the breeze that bends all its companions in the same direction, than we stand alone, whilst all our associates bow, unless God Himself enable as. But God is prepared to enable us. Listen: "I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." But the mistake we are so apt to make is to brace ourselves up by resolution and firm determination, in anticipation of some impending struggle. To do this is to fail. Live in Christ, look up into his face, derive from Him strength for the moment and at the moment; and often wrap about thee that exceeding great and precious promise, "I will make him to become a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out; and I will write on him the name of my God." Oh to stand pillar‑like amid men, bearing up the temple arch of truth, and inscribed with God's name, whilst the crowds go and come on the pavement beneath!

"Greatly begin! though thou have time
But for a line, be that sublime ‑‑
Not Failure, but low aim, is Crime!"

 

Esther 4

Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

WHAT grand faith was here! Mordecai was in God's secrets, and was assured that deliverance and enlargement would come to his people from some quarter ‑‑ if not from Esther, then from some other; but he was extremely anxious that she should not miss the honour of being her people's emancipator. Therefore he suggested that she had come to her high position for this very purpose.

We none of us know, at the first, God's reasons for bringing us into positions of honour and trust. Why is that young girl suddenly made mistress over that household? Why is that youth taken from the ranks of the working‑people, and placed over that great City church? Why is that man put forward in his business, so that he is the head of the firm in which he served as an office‑boy? All these are parts of the Divine plan. God has brought them to the Kingdom that He may work out through them some great purpose of salvation. They have the option, however, to serve it or not. They may use their position for themselves, for their own emolument and enjoyment, that they may surround themselves with strong fortifications against misfortune; but in that case they court destruction. Their position and wealth may vanish as suddenly as it came; or ill‑health and disaster may incapacitate them.

If, on the other hand, all is used for God, though at the risk of perishing ‑‑ for it seemed to Esther as though the action to which Mordecai urged her meant that ‑‑ the issue is blessed. Those that love their lives lose them; those that are prepared to forfeit them keep them. The wheat grain which is buried in the soil bears much fruit.

 

Esther 5

The king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Esther 5:2

WHAT a beautiful type this is for each of us in our approaches to God!

For the repentant sinner. ‑‑ You may have said with Esther, "I will go into the king's presence, and if I perish, I perish." But it is impossible for you to perish. None ever perished at the footstool of mercy. God is faithful to his promises, and just to his Son; and He can do no other ‑‑ He wants to do no other ‑‑ than forgive. As you stand amid the throng that surrounds his throne, He will espy you, and accept you graciously, because of the God‑Man who sits at his right hand, and ever lives to intercede. In his name you may come boldly and obtain mercy.

For the suppliant. ‑‑ You have a great boon to ask for yourself, or another. The King's court stands open; enter and lodge your petition. He will be very gracious at the voice of your cry: the golden scepter extended, his word passed, that He will answer with the whole resources of his kingdom. The answer may not come at once, or in the way you expected; but no true suppliant was ever turned away without his complaint or cause being graciously considered, and in the best way met and adjusted.

For the Christian worker. ‑‑ Surely Esther represents a Paul prepared to be himself accursed, a Luther, a Brainerd. It is a lovely sight when the child of God is so oppressed with the burden of other souls as to sacrifice all else in order to plead their cause. Surely such find favor with God; they are kindred spirits with his own, and He bids them share his throne. God will do anything for those who are consumed by his own redemptive purpose.

Esther 6

As thou hast said, do even so to Mordecai the Jew. Esther 6:10

HERE indeed was a turning of the tables! Haman doing honour to the humble Jew, who refused to do honour to himself. Surely that day the old refrain must have rung through Mordecai's heart: ‑‑ "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's." And there was an anticipation of yet other words: ‑‑

"For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name: behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee." (Re 3:8-note)

How evidently God was working for his child. The gallows, indeed, was being prepared, but it would be used for Haman; whilst the triumph that Haman thought to be preparing for himself was to be used for Mordecai.

This is not an isolated case. Any one who has lived a few years in the world and has observed the ways of God could duplicate it with instances that have come under his own notice. Dr. Gordon told us once of a church in Boston that would not admit colored people; and after a few years it broke up, and the edifice is now occupied by a flourishing colored church.

Trust on, beloved friend, amid scorn, hate, and threatening death. So long as thy cause is God's, it must prevail. He will vindicate thee. Them that honour Him He will honour; whilst those that despise Him shall be lightly esteemed.

"Though the mills of God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting,
With exactness grinds He all."

Esther 7

What is thy petition, and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? Esther 7:2

AMID the sensual conceptions of marriage that obtained in this heathen empire there was doubtless a consciousness in the king's breast of the essential unity between himself and his beautiful queen. She was his better self, and in her pleading he heard the voice of his own higher nature. To nothing less than this could he have made so far‑reaching a promise. It was not so much Ahasuerus pledging himself to Esther, as Ahasuerus, the king, awakening to the appeal of a nobler Ahasuerus, for the most part buried. Such is the power of a pure and noble character awakening a nobler life. Will you try by your unselfishness and purity to awaken those around you to see and follow an ideal, which shall presently assume the form of the living Christ?

In these words of the king we are reminded that God is willing to do beyond what we ask or think. Not to the half of his kingdom, but to the whole extent of it, has God pledged Himself, "according to the power that worketh in us." (Ep 3:20-
note) But our prayer must be in the name, or nature, of Christ; that is, the nature of Christ must pray in us, and God must recognize Himself come back through the circle of our intercession to Himself. The Spirit must make intercession in us, according to the will of God. When the unselfish, lovely, and holy nature of Jesus pleads in us by the Holy Ghost, there is nothing that God will not do for us, even to the whole of his kingdom.

"If ye abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (Jn 15:7)

"Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name He will give it you." (Jn 16:23)

Esther 8

Sealed with the king's ring. Esther 8:8

IN Esther 3:10 the king took the ring from his hand, and gave it to Haman. It is evident that he had resumed it from his chief officer's finger before sending him to execution. It was now entrusted to Mordecai, because it gave validity to the documents that proclaimed liberty to the Jews. Notice those words: "The writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the kings seal, no man may reverse," and apply them to that sealing with the Holy Ghost, of which we read so often in the New Testament.

On the molten wax the ring, with its royal device, or perhaps the cutting of the royal profile, was pressed, giving sanction, validity, and irreversibleness; so on the tender heart of the believer in Christ, the Holy Spirit impresses the likeness of Jesus. The seal does not leave an impression of itself, but of the sovereign; and the Holy Spirit reveals not Himself, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and aims only to leave the mark and superscription of Christ on the character. The word character is used in Hebrews 1:3 (
see note). How wonderful, that as the image or character of the Father was impressed on Christ, so the Savior’s image and character are impressed on us! "Him hath God the Father sealed," says the evangelist. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom ye were sealed," says the Apostle.

This sealing us with the likeness of Jesus is God's attestation. It is his witness that we are born from above, and are become his sons and daughters. It is God's sign manual of his intention and decree that we should inherit an irreversible portion; and when God has once passed and sealed it, neither man nor devil can reverse it.

Esther 9

The Jews had rule over them that hated them. Esther 9:1

YES, my reader, a similar reversal awaits us in the near future! Now, the god of this world and his followers bear rule over us, and work their way with the servants of God. They butcher them like sheep, and scatter the ashes of their homes to the winds; and sometimes it seems as though God had forgotten to avenge the cause of his saints. But the hour is coming when the Almighty will arise on our behalf; and to him who has patiently kept his works unto the end, He will give authority over the nations. Listen to these great words: "Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of them which say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee." Words more applicable to the case of the Jews in the days of Mordecai, and to the history of the Church, it would be impossible to find.

But mark a notable distinction. In the case of the enemies of the Jewish people, there was no quarter. Destruction and death were meted to those who had breathed out persecution and slaughter. But in the case of Christ and his Church, power is viewed only as an opportunity of securing salvation and life. The Saviour said, after his resurrection, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth; go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: and lo, I am with you alway." And the Church says, as through suffering she passes to the right hand of power, "Lay not this sin to their charge; but out of our persecutors raise apostles to carry the Gospel to the confines of the earth."

Esther 10

Seeking the good of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed. Esther 10:3 (R.V.).

THIS epitaph on the life of a simple‑minded, truehearted man, might be yours also. Why should you not from this moment adopt these, twin characteristics? Go about the world seeking the good of people. It does not always mean that you should give them a tract, or a little book. It is much easier to do this than to sacrifice your own good in order to seek theirs. You may be quite sure that some little act of self‑sacrifice or thoughtfulness for a weary mother, or crying child, for a sick friend, or for some person who is always maligning and injuring you, would do a great deal in the way of preparing an entrance for the Gospel message. It is thus that the genial spring loosens the earth and prepares the way for the germination of multitudinous life. Count the day lost in which you have not sought to promote the good of some one. Adopt as your own the pious Quaker's motto, "Do all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the ways you can."

Speak peace to people. ‑‑ Soothe agitated and irritated souls. Throw oil on troubled waters. There are worried and anxious hearts all around us; a word of sympathy and earnest prayer with them will often remove the heavy load, and smooth out the wrinkles of care. Let the law of kindness be on your lip. Do not say sharp or unkind things of the absent, or allow your lips to utter words that will lead to bitterness or wrath. Seek peace and pursue it. And in order to this, let the peace of God that passeth all understanding keep your mind and heart.

"Come, my beloved! We will haste and go
To those pale faces of our fellow‑men!
Our loving hearts, burning with summer‑fire,
Shall cast a glow upon their pallidness."

 

TODAY IN THE WORD
Devotional on the Book of Esther
Chapter by Chapter
Moody Bible Institute - Today in the Word
(Copyright by MBI - Used by Permission)

Esther 1:1, 2, 3, 4,5, 6, 7,8 x

To God belong wisdom and power. - Job 12:13

TODAY IN THE WORD - In the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, a tornado lifts and carries Dorothy, her dog, Toto, and her house, to a magical land. They must journey to the Emerald City to seek audience with the Wizard of Oz. It is by his power that they hope to return to Kansas. Upon first meeting him, they tremble with fear as his thunderous voice booms through a cloud of smoke. Toto later sniffs out that this fear-inspiring Wizard is nothing more than a man behind a curtain, turning switches and pulling levers.

Until we draw back the curtain in this opening scene of the book of Esther, King Xerxes appears to be the embodiment of power in this story. In verse one, we discover that he ruled over the entire Persian empire, from India to Cush, or modern-day Ethiopia. The Persian empire dominated the world scene at that time, and is in fact one of the greatest empires in all of human history. As king at that time, Xerxes had absolute authority. He never faced an electoral challenge, never had to answer the indictment of a special prosecutor, and never waited on a legislative body to enact his wishes. King Xerxes could do everything as he pleased when he pleased.

He was not only powerful, he was also extraordinarily wealthy. To describe the cel- ebration he threw in today's passage as lavish hardly does it justice—it lasted for a full six months, its food and wine knew no limit, and its posh decor of linen, gold, and marble was breathtaking. The feast served one purpose: to flaunt not only the wealth of the kingdom but the splendor of King Xerxes (Es 1:4). And interestingly, the feast was given early in the reign of King Xerxes, in his third year as king (Es 1:3). Make no mistake, the king was sending one message and one message alone, not only to those in his administration, but to everyone throughout the kingdom: I am king! My riches are vast, and my power unparalleled! Tomorrow we'll quickly discover the limits to this “absolute” earthly power.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY -Have you ever considered how many of our personal sins and failures amount to either too much fear of man or too little fear of the Lord? This month's study intends to “draw back the curtain” on the limited power of a human kingdom to reveal the true power of a divine King. Scripture reminds us of this: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Pr 29:25). Pray that the Lord will help you to fear Him alone.
MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 1:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15 x

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. - 1Ti 3:17

TODAY IN THE WORD - Princess Diana was frequently considered one of the most beautiful, desirable women in the world. Men wanted to be with her; women wanted to be her. She seemed to have it all—a fairy-tale wedding, beauty, and access to one of the greatest fortunes in the world. Yet, as Diana told friends, she was deeply unhappy, partly because her husband was in love with someone else. All of her beauty and charm and wealth could not guarantee her the love of someone else.

King Xerxes discovered this same limit to his power in today's reading. At the end of the lavish feast he'd been throwing, he was completely drunk and “in high spirits” (Es 1:10). He had been a tremendous host to the entire kingdom, winning their affection with food and wine. And by his lavish hospitality, he was ensuring their loyalty as royal subjects. His final boast concerned the beauty of his wife, Queen Vashti. Nothing was missing from this picture of power and prominence: he had the greatest political influence of that time, wealth beyond measure, and now a wife for all to envy.

There was only one problem—she snubbed him! After King Xerxes went to such great lengths to display his power, he felt sure to be mocked for his impotence to rule in his own household. Little wonder he “became furious and burned with anger!” (Es 1:12). This was no simple domestic quarrel—it threatened to damage the image of power he worked so hard to create. And that's why today's reading ends with a council of the experts in law and justice. Queen Vashti had to be punished for her insubordination to the king.

Yesterday we talked about “drawing back the curtain” on human power in the book of Esther. Today's reading shows us that no human being, not even a powerful king like Xerxes, has absolute authority or control. We discover a great theological treasure here in Esther. King Xerxes provides a contrast for the one true King “eternal, immortal, invisible” (1Ti 1:17). It is He alone who has true power over all of creation.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY -Job declares of our God, “He stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases” (Job. 23:13). Because it's true that God's power and plans cannot be thwarted, it would be foolish to attempt life without Him. A symptom of this tends to be our own prayerlessness. Make a new habit to begin your day by prayerfully naming each item on your to-do list and calendar. Pray for wisdom in what you have planned, grace for the interruptions, and faithfulness to the Spirit's unexpected leadings.
MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 1:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 x

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. - Proverbs 21:1

TODAY IN THE WORD A common phrase is sometimes heard in evangelical circles to describe the relationship between husbands and wives: “He may be the head of the household, but she's the neck that turns the head!” Usually this wife is known for pulling the strings of the family behind the scenes, while making her husband feel like he's really in charge.

In today's reading, we discover that God has the power to direct the course of human history. His plans don't depend upon volunteers. As our verse for today indicates, God can do His will though we think it's our idea! For example, though King Xerxes had only one plan in mind in the beginning of chapter two, God had another. King Xerxes was looking for a way to punish Queen Vashti who made a mockery of him; God was creating a way to position Queen Esther for His purposes.

In advising the king, the nobles cleverly cast Queen Vashti's actions not as a threat to the monarchy but as a threat to all marriage. “For the queen's conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands” (Es 1:17). They intended to minimize the political damage by framing Queen Vashti's insubordination in terms of a wife challenging her husband, rather than a subject challenging her king. And so the decree is issued: Queen Vashti is banished from the king's presence, deposed as queen, and her place would be given to someone else (Es 1:9). Vengeance proved to be a sure antidote for the king's earlier anger (Es 1:21).

What looked like an arbitrary and excessive act of vengeance by an egotistical king was really the first step in God's plan to later save His people. While King Xerxes was busy protecting his image, God was at work to protect His people from a future threat.

Yesterday we saw the powerlessness of King Xerxes. With the majority of the ancient world under his control, he could do nothing to force his wife's submission. He could not control her choices. By contrast, today we see the power of our King, who can do anything He chooses. Human choices will never stand in the way of His sovereign power. He can even use the king's heart to get the job done.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY - We've seen several principles about God and His working. For one, the human heart is never beyond His reach. He can heal marriages by making us willing to forgive and love! He can bring a belligerent atheist to his knees. He can change the heart of a rebellious child. This is a great hope for our prayers! Over what situation or relationship do you find yourself powerless simply because you cannot change another person? Pray to the God who can!
  MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 2:1, 2, 3, 4 x

The world and its desires pass away. - 1John 2:17-note

TODAY IN THE WORD In a recently published book of essays, one woman writes a tragic account of her pursuit of independence from others: “The reality was . . . I did not know how to live in a decent way with another human being. . . . I tormented every man who'd ever loved me: I called them on everything. . . . There was, of course, more than a grain of truth in everything I said, but those grains, no matter how numerous, need not have become the sandpile that crushed the life out of love.”

This same wistful regret echoes through the first verses of today's reading. We do not know King Xerxes's emotional state at this time, but we can draw clues from the historical context. King Xerxes divorced Queen Vashti in the third year of his reign. He didn't marry Queen Esther until his seventh year as king. In the interlude, King Xerxes made a disastrous expedition to Greece. In 480 b.c. his navy faced defeat at Salamis, and in 479 b.c. his army was routed at Plataea. His ambitions for expanding his empire must have deflated, along with his power-hungry ego.

So when the text tells us matter-of-factly that King Xerxes “remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her” (Es 2:1), one wonders whether or not he regretted his decision to banish Queen Vashti. His failed political conquest left him lonely and longing for the marital companionship he once shared with Vashti. At least that's how his personal attendants saw it. As a solution to his melancholy, they propose that the king fulfill his royal decree and “let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti” (Esther 2:4).

This passage illustrates the emptiness of pursuits apart from God's kingdom. King Xerxes ruled the largest empire of his time, but it wasn't enough. He wanted to strive to conquer more territory. King Xerxes had a harem full of beautiful women, but he wanted a queen. Even all that his power and pleasure afforded him left him like a poor man, begging for more. Without God, his life would always be a life of striving, rather than of rest and peace.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Read 1Jn 2:15-
note, 1Jn 2:16-note, 1Jn 2:17-note. It contrasts the temporal desires of the world with the eternal pursuits of heaven. One example of the world's desires is pursuit of wealth. Open your checkbook register or this month's Quicken report for a quick inventory: Where have I invested for God and where have I invested for myself? If you haven't “put your money where you mouth is,” begin to make changes and commitments in giving of your finances as well as time and skills to your church and ministries of Christ. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 2:5, 6, 7;x 2Chr 36:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

You are a chosen people . . . belonging to God. - 1Peter 2:9-note

TODAY IN THE WORD The Christmas story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cheers the hearts of children. His bright red nose, which other reindeers mock, ends up saving Christmas by guiding Santa's sleigh on a stormy Christmas Eve. He and his other friends from the Island of Misfit Toys prove that being a misfit serves a purpose that no ordinary toy could!

Today's reading notes that Esther didn't seem like the most promising candidate for Queen of Persia. She was a misfit of sorts. In verses five and six, the family tree of her uncle, Mordecai, reveals that they were about three generations removed from the Jewish exile into Babylon. Our reading from 2 Chronicles describes how over one hundred years earlier, the Jewish people faced the shame of watching their holy temple pillaged and their people captured. Only the poorest of the poor remained in the land. The rest were forcibly settled in Babylon. When the Persians later defeated the Babylonians, Jews were given permission to return to Judah if they wished. Many, including Mordecai and Esther, chose to remain in Persia.

This young girl belonged to two cultures. Her Hebrew name, Hadassah, was a reminder of her family's roots in a distant land (Es 2:7), and this heritage might be viewed unfavorably in Persia (cf. Es 2:10). On the other hand, her Persian name, Esther, indicated the culture in which she had been raised. It would be natural to feel alienated from both worlds.

Not only did Esther not fit easily in the culture, her sense of belonging within a family had also been lost. Verse seven tells us that Esther was an orphan. Her parents died, leaving her in the care of an uncle who apparently had no other family. The text makes no mention of either siblings or cousins.

With a background such as this, we would understand if someone had an identity crisis. Had Esther gotten stuck in the cycle of self-pity, the story might have ended here. But we will soon see that these misfortunes in Esther's life were not obstacles in God's plan. They became the very means for Esther to serve as God's instrument.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Today's key verse gives Christians the truth about our identity: we are a people called by God, made holy and purposed for declaring His glory. No personality flaw, no physical disfigurement, no personal inadequacies make us misfits in God's kingdom. Everyone belongs because we belong to God!  Is there anything that makes you think you are a misfit in God's kingdom? Ask God for the faith to see this not as an obstacle to His purposes but as something useful for Him
MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 2:7, 8, 9, 10, 11 x

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; . . . do not abandon the works of your hands. - Psalm 138:8-note

TODAY IN THE WORD A simple equation can determine one's financial health: assets minus liabilities. So financial planners give simple advice: increase what you own, and decrease what you owe! But what's true in accounting isn't necessarily true in God's economy. Our “worth” in God's sight cannot be determined by the simple equation of ability minus inability, adequacy minus inadequacy.

We learned yesterday of Esther's liabilities. She was displaced because she didn't belong either to a culture or to a family. Today we learn of Esther's great asset—her personal beauty (Es 2:7). This beauty earned her special regard when she was brought into the king's harem. Hegai noticed her immediately, and her beauty won her preferential treatment in the harem (Es 2:9).

But Esther's asset wasn't exclusively her physical beauty. Proverbs 11:22 declares that physical beauty degrades without character: “Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” We catch a glimpse of Esther's true beauty in Es 2:10, and find that her beautiful form and features were coupled with strong character. Mordecai instructed her not to reveal her Jewish identity, and she deferred to his wishes. By willingly submitting to Mordecai, Esther proved herself to be a woman of humility.

What we find in the person of Esther is a portrait of advantage and disadvantage, asset and liability. On the basis of ethnicity, she might have been easily disqualified from the position of Queen of Persia. But liabilities aren't always liabilities in the hands of God—it's her Jewishness that positioned her perfectly for the rescue mission for which God had ordained her.

And her beauty, as an asset enhanced by her character, was the means that God used to earn the favor of those around her. She soon needed this favor in order to become queen and later, to help save God's people.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY In God's kingdom, the balance sheet of our usefulness to God looks quite different than the sum of our strengths and the difference of our weaknesses. God can certainly use personal assets as He did with Esther's beauty. God also uses personal liabilities as He did with Esther's Jewish identity. Faithfully steward the blessings God has given you for His purposes. And don't let your personal inadequacies be an excuse for not serving God!
MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 2:12, 13, 14 x

In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? - Psalm 56:11-note

TODAY IN THE WORD Several popular television series in recent years exploit the world of dating, allowing millions of Americans to watch hopeful men and women seek “love.” Their every misstep, attempt at romance—and in some cases, competition with other suitors—is served up as entertainment. Whatever their true motives for appearing on such a show, it seems clear that this is hardly the best way to find a life partner!

While we think these sorts of television programs are a new development, it's not a far cry from Xerxes's search for a queen. In Esther 2:3 and 8, the language seems to indicate that eligible girls in the kingdom were forcibly brought into the harem. The king appointed men from all 127 provinces to search out the most beautiful girls and corral them to the palace, not waiting for willing volunteers or even for the consent of the girls' parents.

Having arrived at the palace, the girls were pampered with the most extravagant spa treatments they could have desired. For a full year, they did nothing other than enhance their natural beauty with the cosmetics and perfumes of their time (Es 2:2). Though many may have been brought against their will, their treatment hardly sounds torturous. But wait—there's a catch.

Es 2:13, 14 describe what happened after that initial year: each girl was allotted one night with the king. For a year, she had been exfoliating her skin, penciling her eyebrows, coiffing her hair—and for what? A one-night stand. And she had to make it memorable enough that King Xerxes would remember her name in the morning (Es 2:14). But if she wasn't chosen to be the next queen? Tragically, no girl resumed normal life at home as she once knew it with her family. Instead, she became a type of second-class wife to the king, committed to live out a kind of “widowhood” in the harem for the rest of her days.

Scholars estimated that approximately 1,400 girls took their turn before Esther arrives on the scene in tomorrow's reading. Over one thousand girls have their dreams for the future dashed at the whim of one king whose foolhardy anger got them in this predicament in the first place!

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Imagine Esther's feelings before her turn to go before King Xerxes. How do you approach difficult situations such as these? Are you filled with fear? Worry? Do you turn to prayer?  Philippians 4:6-
note teaches us how we in the “kingdom” should approach fearful situations. If we belong to the Lord, we must “not be anxious about anything, but in everything present [our] requests to God.” And then we are promised peace! MBI - Today in the Word

 Esther 2:15, 16, 17, 18 x

Your beauty . . . should be that of your inner self. - 1Pe 3:3, 4-note

TODAY IN THE WORD When the invitation arrived for the royal ball, Cinderella's stepsisters scattered in a flurry of activity. They must have the perfect attire for the occasion! They cast all their hopes for impressing the prince into the hands of a ball gown and shoes!

On the night of her presentation to the king, each eligible maiden in King Xerxes's harem placed much importance on that perfect ensemble. Before being taken to the palace, each had access to anything she wanted (cf. Es 2:13), probably a reference to jewelry and clothes. We can infer that the strong-willed girls in the harem didn't stop to ask for advice on hairstyle or fragrance or lip color.

This wasn't Esther's approach, however. Rather than relying upon her own opinions, she sought the advice of Hegai, the supervisor of the harem (Es 2:15). First, this demonstrated great humility and her extraordinary wisdom. Who would know the king's preferences better than the supervisor of the harem? He saw the girls whom King Xerxes summoned more frequently than others. He noted their similarities and could interpret King Xerxes's preferences based upon his observations.

Esther had the same effect on all who saw her: she won their favor. Note that Esther was not just another pretty woman; a pretty woman who is smug and haughty inspires contempt, not favor. Additionally, Esther was surrounded by the most beautiful women from this vast kingdom. Something else had to set her apart. From our reading on May 8, we saw Esther's beauty as far more than a sketch of attractive physical features. With today's passage we can add more brushstrokes to our portrait of Esther's beauty. She combined physical attractiveness with a gracious, humble demeanor. Her beauty radiated from the inside out.

At least King Xerxes thought so! What the niv translates as King Xerxes being “attracted to” Esther more than the other girls is rendered more fairly in other translations as “loved” (Es 2:17). King Xerxes fell in love with Esther—no doubt he admired her physical beauty, but he probably also hoped her demure behavior would make her a more worthy queen than headstrong Vashti!

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Humility is one of the primary tools we need in order to be kingdom people. Unfortunately, sinful human nature operates according to the law of envy (cf. Eccl. 4:4). It's too easy to despise others out of envy for their blessings. For this reason, God's people have to be especially gracious and humble, just as Esther was, when they are blessed by Him. Showing humility, then, earns favor rather than contempt, and this ultimately gives glory to God our Father (cf. Mt. 5:16)
MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 2:19, 20, 21, 22, 23 x

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. - Proverbs 16:9

TODAY IN THE WORD On the morning of September 11, 2001, a small detail averted further destruction in Washington, D.C. and the loss of many more American lives. United Flight 93, taking off from Newark and flying to San Francisco, left 42 minutes after its scheduled departure. This delay allowed some passengers to learn of the other plane hijackings that had taken place earlier that morning. These passengers knew that they, too, would become a bomb in terrorist hands, so they heroically tried to take back the plane from the hijackers.

One simple detail of one ordinary morning—a flight delay—spared many lives. God's rescue mission for His people in the book of Esther is a display of His work through details. In today's reading, we find Him at work, preparing His plans for a crisis that hasn't yet been announced.

First, we find Mordecai, sitting at the king's gate (Es 2:19). Most biblical scholars agree that this detail provides evidence that Mordecai held some sort of official position in the court of King Xerxes. Those seated at the gate were most likely respected men of the land (cf. Pr 31:23). Some speculate that Queen Esther had appointed him to this position since becoming queen.

Second, we learn that Esther had continued to keep her identity secret (Es 2:20). As the story unfolds in further chapters, we learn that Mordecai had not kept secret his own Jewish identity. Therefore, it's clear that what did remain secret at this point in the story is the relationship of Esther and Mordecai.

Next, we learn about the assassination plot against King Xerxes. Mordecai overheard this, revealed it to Queen Esther who then warned the king, giving credit to Mordecai (Es 2:22). No credit or recognition was given to Mordecai at that time.

These details are hardly insignificant in the scope of the story. Nothing is coincidental. God has purposed in this story to place Mordecai at the king's gate precisely when a conspiracy was plotted. Esther's Jewish identity had to remain secret for the time being. And Mordecai's recognition for his heroism was providentially delayed for a later time.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Some biblical skeptics believe that a narrative so perfectly plotted as this one proves that the Bible is fiction, not fact. Not so! To the contrary, this proves that God is the most magnificent craftsman, weaving a masterpiece out of our lives with what seem to be small and insignificant threads. In the kingdom of God, nothing is ordinary. A trip to the grocery store, a regular day at the office, an afternoon at your child's soccer game can be divine appointments. Ask God for wisdom to see where He is at work
MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 x

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. - Pr 16:18

TODAY IN THE WORD Authors use literary devices to create effect and emphasize certain aspects of their work. For example, foreshadowing is used to create suspense. Another literary device used often in the book of Esther is the creation of a “foil,” someone whose traits contrast with another character, emphasizing therefore the qualities of that character.

The book of Esther has a series of contrasts. As our month's theme suggests, the book of Esther teaches us about the kingdom of God by the contrasts we see revealed in King Xerxes's kingdom. Furthermore, we can learn how to be “kingdom people” not simply by imitating the good of Esther and Mordecai but also by avoiding the evil of their “foils.”

In today's reading, Haman, Mordecai's foil, stepped on to the scene. He was greedy for self-promotion. It started favorably for him, since the king gave him second place in the kingdom, “a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles” (Es 3:1). On his daily walk to the palace, Haman basked in his own glory as his colleagues bowed when he passed.

One man at the king's gate refused to follow the royal decree: Mordecai (Es 3:2). Despite the fact that his heroism from yesterday's reading had been overlooked, Mordecai continued to faithfully serve the king in his royal position. He didn't make it his job to make sure that he was rightfully rewarded for every deserving act.

Haman, on the other hand, couldn't stand the thought of a shred of honor withheld from him. When Mordecai refused to bow, Haman was enraged! Just as those who tattled on Mordecai knew, Haman feared that this small breach of respect threatened to undermine his power (Es 3:4). If Haman tolerated Mordecai's insubordination, no one else would feel compelled to bow before him.

Haman proved just how ruthless and power-hungry he really was by determining his course of action. It was not enough to kill Mordecai—he decided to exterminate his entire race (Es 3:6)! Though Haman threatened Mordecai's destruction, Pr 16:18 foretells Haman's destruction, all because of his great pride.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY What is your pride quotient? Here are a couple of tests. When you didn't receive a well-deserved promotion at work, did you complain bitterly about it? When a family member wronged you, did you refuse to forgive her, insisting that she didn't deserve it and was never sorry in the first place? And when you've offended another person, did you offer a litany of excuses for your behavior instead of a specific and direct apology?  “Yes” to any of these questions indicates that you need to face God in prayer to ask for a humble heart! 
MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 3:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 x

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. - 2Ti 3:12-note

TODAY IN THE WORD Jews in Nazi Germany, Bosnians in Yugoslavia, Kurds under Hussein's Iraqi regime, and Africans in the Darfur region of Sudan—all have been victims of attempted genocide. They have suffered the murderous rage of those wishing to wipe out their entire race. Today's reading introduces a historical plot of genocide.

Haman approached the king with his murderous plan. Aware that King Xerxes also worshiped the gods of power and money, Haman cunningly proposed his agenda. First, he warned the king about a people who threaten his power, a people who “do not obey the king's laws” (Es 3:8). Haman didn't mention that the Jewish people weren't categorically guilty; in truth, the only lawbreaker was Mordecai. And the royal decree Mordecai disobeyed was hardly the most crucial of the Persian laws affecting Xerxes. But rather than admit he was out for personal revenge, Haman was shrewd to suggest that it was “not in the king's best interest to tolerate them” (Es 3:8). He then proposed an easy and affordable solution—genocide, free of charge for the king (Es 3: 9)! King Xerxes didn't have to devise a plan, and neither did he have to fund it! Haman was willing to take care of everything.

Before the curtain closed on today's action, Haman, “the enemy of the Jews,” held the symbol of power, the king's signet ring. With that ring, he had the power to command anything he pleased. His venomous hatred of Mordecai and the Jewish race, coupled with the power now his, inspired real fear among the Jews. Es 3:12, 13, 14 describe the first steps towards executing Haman's murderous intentions. Decrees were written in every language and dispatched to every province; the fate of the Jews seemed irrevocable.

What began as one man's quiet resistance seemed to be an entire people's impending doom. Mordecai was no fool. He knew Haman's bloodthirst for power. So he wasn't just hoping that Haman would overlook his disobedience. No doubt Mordecai knew that he would suffer a severe penalty for his actions, and he could have chosen the entirely different route of compliance. Yet fear of Haman did not deter him from a greater loyalty.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Because of our loyalty to Christ and His kingdom, living for Him provides eternal gain but often earthly pain (cf. Mt. 10:22; 2Ti 3:12-note; 1Pe 4:12, 13-note). Our suffering in the West, however, is incomparable to Christians suffering in countries like China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Sudan. Take advantages of resources made available by organizations such as Voice of the Martyrs that can show you how to pray for our brothers and sisters suffering for the name of Christ. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 3:15, 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 x x

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. - Psalm 56:3-note

TODAY IN THE WORD Until the former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, called the murder and persecution of Africans in the Darfur region of Sudan “genocide,” the world seemed content to turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands dead and over a million refugees. Global sentiment in this modern crisis resembled the reaction in Esther's day to Haman's decree of genocide: “the city of Susa was bewildered” (Es 3:15).

In today's reading, we see visceral expressions of grief and fear in response to the royal edict. Mordecai, along with many other Jews, ripped their clothes and put on sackcloth. They paraded in the city streets, wailing and weeping loudly. The Jews knew their fate if something didn't change. In ten months, they and their families, men, women and children alike, would lose their lives because of Haman's royal decree. To whom should they turn in this time of anguish? Upon whom could they count for mercy?

The Jews couldn't expect King Xerxes or Haman to give any time and energy to reconsidering this selfish decision. Esther 3:15 paints a vulgar picture of their joviality in the face of human suffering. Sitting down for drinks, their mood indicated that they acted like their day amounted to routine kingdom business.

The local Persians didn't look like they would be taking up arms in defense of the Jews. Their reaction to the royal edict was no more than tepid ambivalence. Such an unjust and horrible decree barely stirred the slightest anger.

In today and tomorrow's reading, we'll see the source of hope for the Jews is ultimately the God of the heavens and earth, the true King over all. Mordecai's common-sense approach in turning to Esther in today's reading didn't negate God's help. Rather, he recognized that God can work through ordinary human channels just as well as He can use supernatural and extraordinary means. Mordecai assessed the situation: Queen Esther, a Jew herself, alone had the motivation and influence with the king necessary “to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people” (Es 4:8).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Read Psalm 56-
note. It describes the emotions of one who is under attack by his enemies. Rather than fearing his enemies, the psalmist turns to God in confidence. “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Are you facing persecution in your workplace, school, or neighborhood? Have people accused you unjustly or slandered your name? Turn to God for your source of help, peace, and confidence. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 4:1-17 x

TODAY IN THE WORD Throughout history in Scripture, God raised up nations and rulers to accomplish His will. He used Egypt to provide for Jacob's family during famine, and used Moses to rescue the Israelites from oppression in Egypt. The prophet Habakkuk puzzled over the power of Babylon to destroy Judah, but the Lord assured him that Babylon was His tool of judgment and they too would receive His judgment at the hands of the Persians.  We've seen how the godly king Josiah delayed God's judgment on Judah through his repentance and desire to obey the Law. Today we read about the young Jewish girl Esther, who became Queen of Persia at a time when the Jews faced annihilation.

Our reading opens with Mordecai, Esther's cousin, publicly bewailing the edict to destroy the Jews signed by the king of Persia at the urging of Haman. Esther, who seemed not to know of the edict, tried to cheer up Mordecai, until he informed her of what was about to happen.

Mordecai urged Esther “to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people” (Esther 4:8). Esther reminded him that being queen didn't entitle her to an audience with the king. In fact, entering the king's presence unbidden was a suicide mission (Esther 4:11). Mordecai responded that inaction was also tantamount to suicide; her position as queen would not save her from the destruction to be unleashed on the Jews (Esther 4:13).

Next, Mordecai revealed the heart of his faith: he believed that God would bring salvation in some way for the Jews, but he also believed that Esther was in her position for a reason. Esther, in great faith, was willing to accept the challenge and act boldly for her people; she requested that Mordecai and the Jews in the capital city fast, and then she would risk her life and go before the king. As the rest of the book of Esther recounts, the faith of Mordecai and Esther was validated as Esther's actions resulted in protection for the Jews in Persia.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Haman's plot to destroy the Jews was rooted in his jealousy of Mordecai (see Esther 3). We've seen other accounts of jealousy leading to great sin and destruction. Today, ask the Holy Spirit to weed out any roots of jealousy in your heart. Surrender your desire to advance yourself—whether it's financial advantage, reputation, or a promotion—and seek to serve others. As Haman learned, attempts to elevate ourselves end up destroying us, but selfless actions like that of Esther will win the reward of God's blessing

TODAY IN THE WORD - When the Western Union company asked the great inventor Thomas Edison to name his price for the ticker he had invented, Edison asked for a few days to think it over. His wife suggested $20, but Edison thought that was too much. When the time came for the meeting, the Western Union official asked Edison for his price. Edison wanted to say $20 but couldn’t get the words out of his mouth. So the official broke the silence. Well, how about $100? Esther must have felt during the situation she encountered in Persia. She was afraid even to approach King Xerxes with her appeal for the Jews, let alone to expect him to grant it in abundance. But after God moved in the king’s heart and gave Esther the courage to take a very difficult step, she became a true biblical heroine.

Esther 4:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 x

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1-note

TODAY IN THE WORD In October 1996, Lance Armstrong, a competitive cyclist, was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs and his brain. Everyone predicted the end of his career; doctors feared for his very survival. But Lance's perseverance triumphed over doubt. Beginning in 1999, he has won six consecutive victories at the Tour de France, a feat no other cyclist has achieved.

Today's reading reveals two conflicting perspectives in the face of devastating news: Mordecai's faith and Esther's fear. Mordecai saw deliverance, but Esther saw doom. Mordecai didn't believe that evil human intentions will triumph over God's purpose to preserve His people. “Relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise” (Es 4:14). Esther, however, felt the gripping fear of the seen reality. She knew the law: anyone who approached the king in the inner court without being summoned would be put to death (Es 4:11). The king had not summoned her in thirty days. Could she possibly hope for his mercy?

Mordecai finally tried to persuade her go before the king with compelling arguments. First, she must not believe that she alone would escape the fate of the Jews (Es 4:13). How easily Esther could have believed this. Think back to the beginning of this chapter—while all of the Jews mourned the decree, Esther seemed oblivious to the news. She didn't understand the reasons for Mordecai's grief, and that's why she originally sent Hathach to question Mordecai (Es 4:5). Having been unaware of this decree, Esther might have hoped that she would be immune to its orders. Mordecai stirred her to action by a call to self-preservation.

Second, he asserted the reality of deliverance. The Jews would be rescued, but if she didn't act on their behalf, she and her family would perish. She faced the possibility of having her own life ended, even if her people were saved.

Finally, he left her with a question: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Es 4:14). Because this question serves as the lynchpin for Esther's theological lessons about purpose, tomorrow we'll discuss its implications.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Mordecai's faith and Esther's fear parallel the story of Peter walking on the water (Mt. 14:22-33). At first, Peter courageously stepped out of the boat toward Jesus. However, taking his eyes off Jesus and fearing the wind and the waves, Peter began to sink.  Like Peter stepping out of the boat, Mordecai had great faith. Like Peter sinking in the water, Esther had little faith at first. Mordecai seized hope. Fear seized Esther. Where is your focus in troubling circumstances? How can you turn your gaze back to Christ? MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 4:14;
xGenesis 45:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

God sent me . . . to save your lives by a great deliverance. - Genesis 45:7

TODAY IN THE WORD The story is told of a man who, when his neighbor told him to leave his flooding community, refused to leave. As the waters flooded the streets, a rescue worker arrived in a boat. “God will save me!” the man declared, refusing to get in. He then crawled to the roof as the flood waters rose. A helicopter flew overhead. “God will save me!” he yelled confidently. The man eventually drowned, met God in heaven, and asked, bewildered, “I thought you promised to save me. Where were you?” God replied, “But I tried three times!”

The Bible is full of stories of God's rescue missions. What we often find in the face of many of these threats is that instead of using supernatural means, God uses ordinary men and women to deliver help in times of crisis.

We can draw many parallels between the stories of Joseph and Esther. In the reading from Genesis, Joseph was reunited with his brothers after they had sold him as a slave many years earlier. They feared his retribution. Joseph recognized, however, God's purposes even in their act of malice. “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Ge 45:5NIV). The favor that he first found with Potiphar, then with the prison warden, and finally with Pharaoh, had placed him in a position of power and influence (see Genesis 39:1ff-Ge 41:1ff). Because of his authority now as second in command to Pharaoh, Joseph was able to make provisions for the famine and could now grant aid to his starving family.

In Esther 4:14, Mordecai asked Esther to give account for her royal position. Was it by chance that she, a Jewish orphan, had become queen of the mighty Persian empire—or could it be part of God's greater plan to rescue His people when they needed it? “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

This question must have recalled memories of her arrival at the palace. Hegai, the supervisor of the harem, had favored her from the start. She was given advantages over other girls (Es 2:9). Fourteen hundred girls were sent ahead of her to the king, all beautiful, all capable of winning his heart. Yet only she had achieved that. What earlier she might have viewed as good fortune was clearly divine providence.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY None of our success is coincidental in the kingdom of God. In fact, God has a great history all throughout the Bible of blessing people so that they can bless others. This was the original call to Abraham (Gen. 12:1, 2, 3, 4). Where have you found favor in your spheres of influence? With your boss? Your child's teacher? Your neighbor? Your employees? Use their favorable opinion of you to speak to them about Christ. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 4:15, 16, 17
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Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. - 1Samuel 12:23

TODAY IN THE WORD George Mueller, a nineteenth-century English pastor and founder of an orphan ministry, once wrote: “Here is the great secret of success. Work with all your might; but trust not in the least in your work. Pray with all your might for the blessing of God; but work. . . . Remember that God delights to bestow blessing, but, generally, as the result of earnest, believing prayer.”

Today's reading illuminates the power of prayer in Esther's story. Esther had been persuaded by Mordecai to undertake the dangerous endeavor of going before the king without being summoned and pleading for his mercy towards the Jews. And though earlier we saw Esther's trepidation and fear, today we see her great wisdom and bravery. She answered Mordecai's question in Es 4:14. She had come to be queen so that she could exert her influence over the king in order to save the Jews.

She gave explicit instructions to Mordecai: gather all of the Jews together and fast for me. By implication, she called a three-day prayer meeting (cf. 2Chr 20:1, 2, 3, 4). Esther didn't choose to rely exclusively upon her feminine wiles to convince the king. Neither was she fatalistic in her approach, believing that nothing she could or couldn't do would alter the course of events. Though she realized her ultimate destiny was out of her hands (v. 16), she nonetheless used the resources that she had. Before going to the king, she depended on the strength of the prayers from the community of God's people.

This was an appeal for fervent prayer and fasting, night and day (Es 4:16). The Jews were called to put aside eating and sleeping for the purpose of seeking God's help and deliverance. They gathered together, murmuring prayers in a unified voice as the people of God. Not only did this prayer meeting seek to affect God by beckoning His mercy, it no doubt affected the people. Those who previously felt hopeless and despairing in the face of death found strength and courage through the prayers of the community. And Esther drew confidence for her task at hand.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Today's key verse reminds us that failing to pray for others is a sin in the sight of God. In church or Bible study or small group, when we hear requests for prayer, we are under obligation to pray for these people. This means we should probably write the requests down as we hear them!  Not only should we pray for others, but we should rely on others praying for us. Make genuine specific requests for yourself next time you're asked to share so that others can pray effectively for you. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 5:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 x

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded. - Proverbs 25:15

TODAY IN THE WORD Imagine the musical score set to the story unfolding in the book of Esther. In the first chapter of Esther, the melodies are upbeat and bright throughout the 180-day banquet given by King Xerxes. Queen Vashti's insubordination is a brief but dark interlude in the music. The tempo picks up in chapter two until chapter three, when Haman's murderous plot hatches. The once-cheerful harmonies give way to a plodding death march. And as chapter five opens, the instruments are completely stilled. Nothing can be heard; the audience waits, breathless. Esther stood before the king in verse one. As the readers, we are practically holding our breath as he extended the royal scepter, and Esther finally advanced towards the throne.

If we imagine ourselves in Esther's position, we might say: “Oh, King Xerxes, I'm so glad you allowed me to speak. You see, Haman wants to kill me—and my people. O, king, you've got to save us! Don't let this happen!” We might blurt out a flurry of accusations and half sentences, trying desperately to persuade the king to see the situation our way.

Esther's approach was much wiser, less rash, more composed. She simply invited him to a banquet. She knew King Xerxes's love for merrymaking—that's how he first got in trouble with Queen Vashti (Es 1:10, 11, 12), how he celebrated Queen Esther's rise to the throne (Es 2:17, 18), and how he ended his day with Haman after issuing the edict for genocide (Es 3:15). Before revealing her true intentions in coming, Esther would give the king a fine meal and her company.

Moreover, she invited Haman to join them. This, too, reveals her great wisdom in avoiding the foolishness of “he said, she said.” Haman would be right there when she accused him of plotting to exterminate her and her people.

Pr 29:20 warns against impulsivity: “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Esther profited from the prayer and planning of the three previous days. Her calculated patience and caution served her purposes well.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Proverbs 19:2 reminds us that even when we are zealous for godly purposes, we should not be hasty or ignorant in our planning. If God asked you to confront someone, would you spend time praying and carefully planning what you will say in this conversation? If God asked you to develop a new ministry for an area of need in your church, would you spend time thinking how you'll gather the resources to begin this new ministry? Remember that patience can be a tremendous indicator of wisdom. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 5:9, 10;
xMt 16:24, 25, 26, 27

Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. - Matthew 16:25

TODAY IN THE WORD Nate Saint, one of the five missionaries martyred in Ecuador in 1956, said this about a Christian's call to sacrifice his life for Christ: “People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives . . . and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”
Haman's “bubble” is delicately fragile in today's reading. At the beginning of verse nine, he was flying high, reveling in his own self-importance. As the king's right-hand man, he could do anything he wished. He's powerful and prominent. The queen even invited him to her own personal banquet. No one but the king himself shared such honor! Haman rushed home to brag of all this to his friends and family.

His mood changed as he approached the king's gate. While everyone else had risen to honor him, one man didn't budge or even cower in Haman's presence. Despite the pressure from other royal officials, despite his impending fate doomed by Haman's edict, Mordecai remained unafraid and unwavering. He would not honor Haman.

Haman couldn't stand the thought of this one man's refusal to obey him. Like a bubble, the more an ego swells the more fragile it becomes. By this point, Haman's ego was so inflated—and fragile—that Mordecai's action drowned out the applause of the crowd.

Those who live like Haman, in deliberate pursuit of self-importance, will live perpetually on Haman's emotional roller coaster. Soaring high when honored, bottoming out when not, Haman and all those like him will forever be enslaved to the whims of others. They can never have the security of joy and peace that Jesus promises us in His kingdom.

Today's key verse assures us that the only way to secure one's life is to lose it. In part, this means giving up the desire for personal acclaim, something Haman couldn't bring himself to do. In God's kingdom, only one road leads to personal fulfillment, and that is the road of denying self and following Christ (Mt 16:24).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Beyond the sadness that funerals bring for the loved ones we've lost, they compel us to consider what will be said of us after we've died. Like Haman and Xerxes, will it be said that you lived for the kingdom of self, always striving for more and yet never satisfied? Or will your story, like Esther's, be told and retold as an example for generations to come? One kingdom will never be shaken, even by death itself (cf. He 12:28-
note). How are you living for God's eternal kingdom? MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 5:11, 12, 13, 14; 1Jn 2:15, 16, 17 x

After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin . . . gives birth to death. - James 1:15-note

TODAY IN THE WORD Some describe Wilt Chamberlain as the best basketball player to have ever played the game. Though he retired from the NBA in 1973, he still held the record for the most average points scored per game at the time of his death in 1999. His personal life wasn't as admirable. In his biography published in 1991, Chamberlain made scandalous boasts that he'd had tens of thousands of sexual partners. Chamberlain exemplifies what we learn from today's reading: boasting proves not so much what we have as what we desperately want.

Haman spent a great deal of time and effort boasting to his friends and family of his wealth, his virility, his power and prominence (Es 5:11). He added an important detail to his boasts, a chord of irony for all of us who know about Esther's plan. “I'm the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave!” (Es 5:12). His boasting proved the pride of his heart. He believed two things of himself: I deserve all that I have, and I deserve even more. How quickly boasting gave way to craving.

Haman admitted that he couldn't enjoy a single one of his boasts because of Mordecai. “All this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate” (Es 5:13). Haman was like the hungry man of 1John 2, boasting of all he had and craving what he had not. Haman, like Xerxes, pursued that which would forever elude him. Tragically, he couldn't see that sin is a tyrant; it always demands more of us, keeping our hearts restless and our souls starving.

Es 5:14 proves the destructive nature of sin as we see in today's key verse. Pride became boasting, because Haman couldn't stay silent about how great he was. Boasting produced cravings and desires, because Haman couldn't be satisfied until he had it all. Craving produced hatred, because Mordecai was the one man standing in Haman's way. And hatred produced plans for murder. How quickly “harmless” bragging gave way to great wickedness.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY In Matthew 5, Jesus described anger as murder and lust as adultery. Today we see another sin of the mind and heart, pride, at the root of Haman's sin. These aren't “small” sins simply because they might be less noticeable to others. They can be our greatest spiritual pitfalls, leading us into a progression of other sins. Take inventory of these three sins of the heart: pride, hatred, and lust. Where do you need to make confession to God? Take another step and confess to a brother or sister in Christ and ask for their prayer support in the battle against these sins (cf. James 5:16). MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
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Before his downfall a man's heart is proud. - Proverbs 18:12

TODAY IN THE WORD If we're not paying careful attention as we're reading along in Esther, we may miss the time frame of this story. The past few significant events have all transpired in one jam-packed day—one of the most pivotal days in all of human history! The future of the Jewish people, from whom our Lord Jesus Christ would be born, hung in the balance.

Our reading today begins with two critical words: “that night” (Es 6:1). Let's review the events of this particular day. It was the day of Esther's extraordinary courage in approaching the king, the day she hosted the banquet for Haman and the king, the day Mordecai refused once again to honor Haman, the day of Haman's great boasts and terrific rage. The day ended with Haman's instructions for the construction of a gallows upon which he intended to hang Mordecai. This gallows was over seven stories tall—its exaggerated size rivaled the immensity of Haman's bruised ego.

As this day closed, the king couldn't sleep. He requested the book of the chronicles that enumerated all the details of his reign (Es 6:1). It's interesting that he thought that this bit of reading would surely put him right to sleep! That night, instead of dozing to the sleepy cadence of his servant's voice repeating his past exploits and kingdom life, the king grew alert. Ah yes—there had been an assassination plot . . . and Bigthana and Teresh were duly hanged. But Mordecai? “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” (Es 6:3).

Here the king learned of his oversight. For the man who'd saved his life, he'd done nothing. This evidently disturbed him. King Xerxes not only wanted loyalty—he demanded it! He executed those who betrayed him, inspiring fear in anyone still plotting treason. Just as he punished treason, he rewarded loyalty in order to ensure its multiplication.

“Who is in the court?” the king asked (Es 6:4). And one of the greatest ironies of the book of Esther surfaces in these next verses. “Haman is standing in the court” (Es 6:5). Note why Haman was there—to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai. But the man plotting Mordecai's death would unwittingly design his honor.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Today's key verse foreshadows Haman's fate and reminds us of how we suffer when we're proud. For example, pride destroys relationships. In our pride, we sever relationships by stubbornly refusing either to confess or to forgive. Humility, however, makes way for reconciliation because of its mercy. Humility is the exact opposite of stubbornness and self-justification. Are any of your relationships suffering because of your pride? Make an effort first to make restitution with that person and then with God (cf. Mt 5:23, 24) MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 6:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 x

The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked the Lord will destroy. - Psalm 145:20-note

TODAY IN THE WORD Shopping malls welcome frenzied crowds in the month of December. Some come to shop; parents bring their children for a short visit on Santa's lap. The long lines snake around holiday displays to accommodate all the eager children who can't wait to tell Santa all they've been wishing for!

“What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” (Es 6:6). Haman treated the question as if the king had just asked him to fill out his Christmas wish list. He hardly knew where to start! Just two days ago, we learned how Haman's vanity left him dissatisfied and craving more. His pride persuaded him to believe that he deserved more power, wealth, and public acclaim.

We might have guessed what his requests would be: “A royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head” (Es 6:8). So far, Haman had carefully chosen distinct symbols of power. Here Haman showed less interest in actually exerting power and greater interest in the trappings of power. The robe and the horse wouldn't really give him more authority in themselves, but they would elevate him to the image of royalty. If Haman couldn't be king, at least he could pretend for a moment.

But pretending to be king is only a thrill when there is an audience. So Haman added the final element to his wish list. “Let [the king's most noble princes] robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ”˜This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor' ” (Es 6:9). Haman was lost in the reverie of imagining himself in the middle of a Persian parade. The king interrupted his day-dream with some shocking news: “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended” (Es 6:10).

Here we start the cycle of reversals in the book of Esther. What Haman imagined to be his good fortune was now the good fortune of his arch-enemy, Mordecai. His “Christmas list” had been delivered to the person whom he hated most.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY We're just beginning to see how God executes justice in the book of Esther. As we learned from the very beginning of our study (see Ps 145:20-
note), God is just, punishing the wicked and rescuing the righteous. Sometimes we don't see this justice here and now. We can wonder why those choosing to disobey God seem prosperous and carefree. It can even cause us to question whether living for Christ is really worth it. Read Psalm 73:1-28-note as an encouragement to persevere in your faith and obedience. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 6:12, 13, 14;
xLuke 14:7, 8, 9, 10, 11

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. - Luke 14:11

TODAY IN THE WORD Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, otherwise known as “Baghdad Bob,” served as Iraq's Minister of Information as the coalition forces began attacking Iraq in early 2003. He boasted about Iraq's great military prowess. “[The Americans] can penetrate our borders but they cannot reach Baghdad. They will try to pull our army and troops out but we are well aware of their plans and they will fail.” How quickly his public boasts gave way to humiliation.

Haman, boasting to friends and family just days earlier about his success (Es 5:9) now faced public embarrassment. Mordecai, not Haman, received all the honor Haman had proposed to the king. At first, the text doesn't provide a description of Haman's mortification. But we can imagine Haman's sullen expression when robing Mordecai with the royal robe and the acrimony in his voice when calling out, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor” (Es 6:9). Haman dutifully carried out the king's instructions, and it's only afterwards that we glimpse his humiliation.

In Es 6:12, Haman rushed home, “his head covered in grief.” His grief contrasts with Mordecai's earlier grief. In the early verses of chapter four, Mordecai grieved the king's murderous edict. His grief resulted from the evil intentions of another. Haman's grief, on the other hand, has been self-inflicted. His pride, his boasting, and his vanity have all resulted in myopic vision. He never dreamed that the king would want to honor anyone other than him. This led him to concoct a grandiose vision of glory for himself—only to see the honor and accolades go to Mordecai. And indeed, no pity would be shown to Haman.

The prediction made in Es 6:13 regarding Haman's misfortune proves the truth of today's key verse. “You will surely come to ruin!” they announce. Haman's wife and advisers offered no words of solace to Haman, foretelling instead his demise. And this follows exactly the law of the kingdom of God, about which Jesus teaches in our reading from the Gospel of Luke.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY  Jesus taught His followers not to assume places of honor, lest they be humiliated. Rather He instructed them to “take the lowest place” (Luke 14:10).  To exalt ourselves, as Haman did, will bring humiliation. To humble ourselves, as Mordecai did, elevates us. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; He 10:19-36
x

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. - Hebrews 10:22-note

TODAY IN THE WORD Frequently people are fascinated by the facial expressions of an accused person when the final verdict is read. On fictional television shows or publicized trials, the cameras focus on faces of the defendants, hoping to capture their reaction to hearing the sentence that determines their future.

Today's reading provides one final look at Haman before the verdict of his guilt was read. Esther hosted a second banquet for the king and begged that he spare her life and the lives of the Jewish people (Es 7:3). The king didn't waste words reassuring her of rescue, but it was implicit in his outburst of anger. “Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” (Es 7:5).

At last, Haman was exposed for his “vile” intentions and character (Es 7:6). From our first glimpses of him in chapter three, Haman plotted evil with impunity. In these final moments, Haman was in danger of losing everything. All of his boasts of family, wealth, virility, and power promised to evaporate in a single moment should the king choose to end his life. In these last desperate moments, this man starkly depicted the consequences of evil choices.

He was hopelessly guilty. He could make no appeal or justification for his crime. He chose his only recourse: to beg for mercy! This merciless man who had carelessly plotted the annihilation of the Jewish race was reduced to a sniveling heap beside Queen Esther. He could not hope for mercy from King Xerxes. The king's anger, well-renowned after Queen Vashti's banishment, hardly seems subdued in this scene (Es 7:7,8).

In contrast to our passage from Esther that illuminates the plight of the evildoer, our text from Hebrews highlights the blessings of those in Christ. Like Haman we were once guilty. We had no appeal and no justification for our offense against God. But here the stories diverge. Though we were once guilty, through Christ's blood, we were cleansed from a “guilty conscience.” We have the privilege of drawing near to God, rather than shrinking back in fear. Most importantly, our position in Christ promises the reward of eternal life (He 10:35, 36-
note ).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Today's readings illustrate the crucial choice each of us must make in our lifetime, a choice not only about life but also about death. If we live like Haman, we will face our death as Haman did, in fear and desperation, knowing that all we've sought to build we will lose. But if we live lives of faith in God, we will fear neither death nor judgment.  Can we look forward to something greater in the life to come? Haman put self on the throne. Did you put Christ on the throne of your life? MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 7:1-10; 8:1-8; 9:1-10 x

TODAY IN THE WORD - Lucie Lipas of the Czech Republic is a good example. While in high school, she felt God calling her to become a Christian counselor. She started looking for good Bible colleges, and a missionary recommended Moody. Lucie applied and was accepted, but where would the money come from? Her family prayed for guidance.

Meanwhile, a friend of the Institute had donated funds specifically for students such as Lucie. That special gift answered her family's prayers! Working behind the scenes, God had orchestrated circumstances perfectly.

Even when we can't see the big picture, we know that God in His sovereignty is always working behind the scenes. Esther's story is another example of this truth. This dramatic book of the Bible, famous for its omission of the name of God, unfolds the story of a woman who not only finished well herself, but also helped to save her people in the process.

Esther and Mordecai were Jewish exiles in Persia under King Xerxes. Esther's beauty won her a place in the royal harem, where her nationality was apparently not known. She quickly came into favor with the king, putting her into position to counter the plot of the Jews' evil enemy, Haman, to destroy God's people.

We don't have space here to recount the entire intrigue. Since our focus is on ending well, we bring your attention especially to the demise of Haman, Esther's plea for a new decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves, and the success of that plan.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Perhaps nothing we will be called upon to do will be as dramatic as Esther's nation-saving act of courage. But that's alright because the size of our responsibility is God's concern, not ours. Where has God placed you at home, at work, at church, and in your neighborhood? Is He preparing you for a new or an expanded sphere of influence for Him in 1997? Or perhaps He wants the kind of day-to-day faithfulness that may be less spectacular but that requires the same spiritual fortitude.

Esther 7:8, 9, 10, 8:1, 2 x  x

The Lord tears down the proud man’s house. - Proverbs 15:25

TODAY IN THE WORD Bastille Day commemorates July 14, 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution. Until the storming of the Bastille, Louis XVI and the nobility enjoyed luxurious living at the price of the peasants' hard labor in the fields. The French Revolution was a bloody era that reversed the fortunes of nobles and peasants.

Today's reading records one of the greatest reversals of fortune in all the Bible. Haman lost everything. However, it's not only that he lost all that he's worked to gain, but he lost it to his arch-enemy, Mordecai. At every turn, Haman endeavored to destroy Mordecai and even his entire race. He even went to the extravagant lengths of having a gallows built for Mordecai's execution.

That death sentence was served to Haman in today's passage (Es 7:9, 10). Haman would be hung on the very gallows built and designed by his own hands! Not only would Mordecai be spared his life, he would assume Haman's governmental position. The signet ring, a sign of absolute power, once fatefully in the hands of Haman (Es 3:10), would now be worn by Mordecai. And for final effect, Mordecai was rewarded with Haman's wealth and estate (Es 8:2). No doubt the Lord had torn down the house of this proud man.

What played out here on this historical Persian stage prefigures the heavenly drama soon to be completely fulfilled at Christ's return. Everything that has happened so far in Esther reminds us of the realities of God's kingdom. Things aren't always what they seem. At the beginning of Esther, evil seemed to be prevailing. Mordecai and his people faced unjust suffering at the hands of evildoers. Haman prospered, while Mordecai and the Jews grieved the prospect of death. The “seen” realities of that situation would have convinced anyone that the Jews were sitting ducks for a tragic fate.

While this was the “seen” reality, an unseen reality prevailed. It's the reality of God at work in any and every situation, no matter how bleak. It's the reality of God keeping His promises to His people. It's the reality of vindication for the righteous and punishment for the wicked. It's the reality of faith.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Mordecai provides a great example of faith. He didn't focus on the problem but believed in God's goodness.  Here is one sure-fire way to increase your faith: spend time studying Scripture. For example, find passages describing what heavenly rewards are promised for those in Christ. This will not only increase your faith but your devotion to living for God's kingdom. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 8:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 x

The Lord is a God of justice. - Isaiah 30:18

TODAY IN THE WORD “Justice is a certain rectitude of mind, whereby a man does what he ought to do in the circumstances confronting him,” said Thomas Aquinas. The story of Esther teaches us much about God's justice. We worship a God who is just, who always chooses the right and reasonable action in every circumstance. Today's reading illuminates this for us.

The first example comes through contrast. In Es 8:5 through Es 8:8, King Xerxes corrected the unjust edict written earlier for the destruction of the Jews. This action was unreasonable and unfair; it was unjust. Accordingly, he overrode it with a new edict. What a sobering look at human justice! Unlike God's perfect justice, human justice is subject to error. It usually needs corrective measures for its oversights and excesses. God, however, will never have to override Himself or retract a decision. “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind” (Nu. 23:19). While humans might have 20/20 vision in hindsight, even foresight is always 20/20 with God.

Another example begins with Es 8:11. Here we discover that God is just because He never executes a punishment that is too harsh or unfair. Some find these next two chapters of Esther difficult to understand. How is it that God could permit His people to kill their enemies? It's clear, however, that God didn't intend for the Jews to take excessive vengeance upon their enemies. Their motive was not to be one of ruthless vengeance but of self-defense (Es 8:11). They were strictly confined to “protecting” themselves.

A final example demonstrates God's justice accompanied by God's mercy through the timing of God's rescue. Es 8:9 tells us that the second edict was written on the twenty-third day of the third month. Remembering back to the first edict, which was written on the thirteenth day of the first month (cf. Es 3:12), we see that only two months have elapsed between Haman's murderous plot and God's rescue. This was a full nine months before the date of destruction set by Haman was scheduled to take place (cf. Es 3:13). God demonstrated not only His justice but also His great mercy.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Have you at times questioned God's justice? Do you feel that your circumstances are too hard? Do you question whether God is demanding unreasonable things from you? Even when experience seems to contradict your belief, God is just . . . and merciful! Hebrews 12:6 provides hope for times of suffering and discouragement: “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Read Hebrews 12:1-11 to learn more about God's just and merciful treatment of His children. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 8:15, 16, 17
x

The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor. - Proverbs 15:33

TODAY IN THE WORD J. R. R. Tolkien, a Christian and author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, never defended his stories as biblical allegory. Instead, they were what he called “true myth.” By this, he was emphasizing the mythological nature of the plot and characters and the “truth” of the themes. One such theme in the Lord of the Rings is the triumph of good over evil, a clearly Christian idea.

This theme resounds in the final chapters of Esther, helping us to see the place of this book in the canon of Scripture. Early on, we noted that many people question the relevance of Esther. Why would a book that never explicitly mentions God be included in the Bible? Now we begin to see that its themes of the triumph of good and the blessings of obedience are essential for strengthening our Christian devotion.

Today's key verse reiterates this theme and provides a framework for today's reading. This proverb compares two synonymous phrases to say that the fear of the Lord is, in essence, humility. Just as the fear of the Lord teaches wisdom, it also assures honor.

It's helpful to think back to the stark contrast between the two characters, Haman and Mordecai. Haman followed the road of foolishness, not the path of wisdom. He lived for himself, pursuing his pleasures and ambitions. He was greedy for his own honor. In the end, all that he had desperately wanted and aspired to was taken from him. Mordecai, on the other hand, went the way of wisdom. He feared the Lord with humility and faith. He did not seek his own honor. He was never climbing any ladders of personal fame or prominence. And look at his reward in today's reading!

Mordecai was dressed like the king. He was wearing “royal garments,” a “crown of gold,” and a “purple robe” (Es 8:15). This regal picture of Mordecai echoed Haman's earlier ambitions for his own personal glory (cf. Es 6:7-9). And now Mordecai enjoyed not only the king's favor but also the favor of the entire kingdom. Ultimately, however, the favor Mordecai received served to glorify God, causing many to become “Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them” (Es 8:17).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Read Acts 5:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and note the similarities between the Jews in Esther's day and the early Christian church in Acts. Both groups inspired others to put their faith in God. We've already learned that we will suffer for Christ and His kingdom. Here we learn that at times we will be honored for our Christian devotion and lead others to God! How many people have seen God's work in your life and placed their trust in Christ? Pray for God's glory to be seen in you, as well as the boldness to declare His glory. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 9:1-16;
x Ro 12:17, 18, 19, 20, 21

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. - Ro 12:19-note

TODAY IN THE WORD “The Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe or whether any,” accused Thomas Paine, political pamphleteer during the American Revolution. He wasn't the first to criticize the reliability of the Bible, nor will he be the last. Today's two readings are certainly two difficult passages to reconcile. But this doesn't mean that the Bible contradicts itself.

In the reading from Esther, we see the Jews taking vengeance on their enemies and killing them. In Susa, the killings numbered to little more than five hundred men (Es 9:6). On the following day, another three hundred men were killed (Es 9:15). Yet in the rest of the provinces, the numbers are more staggering: 75,00 men die at the hands of God's people.

This seems to contradict all we as New Testament believers understand about retribution. Ro 12:17-
note couldn't be clearer: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” Ro 12:19-note continues, “Do not take revenge.” Were the Jews disobedient to God's law? Had Mordecai and Esther been extreme in proposing this bloody plan (cf. Es 8:8)?

What is clear from both passages and from the entire biblical testimony is the reality of God's wrath and judgment. In the Old Testament, the Jews were instructed to kill their enemies as a way of executing God's wrath (cf. 1Sa 15:8, 9, 10, 11). Today's reading from Esther complies with Old Testament law (cf. Ex 21:23, 24, 25). The language of this passage clearly states that the killings that took place were not random. They targeted the enemies of the Jews (Es 9:2, 5, 14). The Jews took up arms, not to satisfy their own bloodthirst, but to defend themselves. They were not motivated by greed because they specifically did not lay hands on the plunder of their enemies (Es 9:10, 15, 16). These killings were a righteous expression of the wrath of God against His enemies.

Jesus redefined our position towards our enemies: love them and don't seek revenge (cf. Mt 5:38, 39-
note, Mt 5:40, 41, 42-note). This doesn't mean that God no longer executes His wrath against the evildoer. Ro 12:19 promises that God Himself will repay the wicked their due. What initially might have appeared to be a contradiction is now the fullest picture of how God treats sin and the unrepentant sinner. Evil will not be ignored! Injustice will never escape God's judgment.

This can certainly inspire our prayers today for the cruelties and oppression we see around us. To be like God means to despise such injustice and to hope prayerfully and expectantly for its end. Pray today for God to correct an injustice you see continuing in the world, such as racism and materialism. MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 9:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22,23; x Ps 78:1-39-note,

They would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. - Psalm 78:7

TODAY IN THE WORD Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, as a day to commemorate the sacrifices of American soldiers. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared at that time the importance of such days of national remembrance: “Let . . . no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

Mordecai's commemoration of the festival of Purim provided a means for the Jewish people to remember their deliverance. He deliberately prescribed that this festival would be celebrated annually (Es 9:21). Year after year, generation after generation, the story would be retold of God's miraculous rescue of His people.

The festival would include terrific celebration. The Jews would feast and give gifts to one another and the poor as expressions of joy (Es 9:22). This wasn't to become a solemn celebration confined to the quiet halls of the temple. Purim was sure to become one of the favorite festivals of the Jewish children for its gaiety and gifts! The Jews would dance and sing and eat as they remembered God's amazing love and power.

This holiday provided a safeguard for God's people against the perils of spiritual forgetfulness. Psalm 78 provides a haunting look at the dangers of forgetting God's power and provision. Today's verse teaches that remembering what God has done in the past helps us to trust and obey for the future. Sadly, the Israelites after the Exodus fell into sinful spiritual amnesia. They forgot God's power displayed in the ten Egyptian plagues (Ps 78:11). They forgot God's miraculous parting of the Red Sea (Ps 78:13). They didn't remember His guidance by the pillars of cloud and fire (Ps 78:14). Nor did they recall His provision of water from rocks and bread from heaven (Ps 78:15, 24).

This forgetfulness led them into rebellion and disobedience (Ps 78:9, 10, 11). They cowered at the borders of Canaan, fearing that they could not take the Promised Land (cf. Nu 14). If only they had remembered God's power from the past, they may have had the courage they needed!

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Decide today how you can protect yourself from spiritual amnesia. Maybe you'll begin a journal in which you'll record times when you've personally seen God's miraculous power and love. Maybe you'll commemorate days throughout the year to remember specific times of God's deliverance and help. Let these be holidays of great celebration and most importantly, of a time to retell the story of God's working. As Psalm 78:4 declares, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.” MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 9:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 x

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. - Proverbs 16:33

TODAY IN THE WORD The author of the book of Esther cleverly uses many literary devices to emphasize certain themes and ideas in the book. Today we see the use of irony, a word used to convey a meaning opposite to its literal sense. Its impact can be either humor or sarcasm.

Our reading from chapter nine teaches us the origin of the word Purim, the name given to the festival instituted by Mordecai and Esther. Es 9:24 tells us pur means “lot.” This takes us back to the ominous scene of Esther 3:7: “In the twelfth year of King Xerxes . . . they cast the pur in the presence of Haman to select a day and month [for the destruction of the Jews].” Casting lots was a practice used for decision-making. It was meant to be as random and impartial as rolling dice. In the scene from chapter three, the lot was cast for the fate of the Jews. The date of their destruction was fixed, by chance so it seemed.

But was this really the story of random happenings or chance coincidences as the word, lot, might suggest? Or was this in fact a story of God's providence and sovereignty? The evidence stacks up in favor of the latter, and the name, Purim, therefore, serves a note of irony.

The summary provided in Es 9:24, 25 of today's reading hardly does justice to the details of the story. No mention is made of Mordecai or Esther's heroism and courage. Instead, we have only the mention of Haman and King Xerxes. First, Haman, “the enemy of all the Jews,” who, with all his wits and wealth, plotted the death of the Jews (Es 9:24). Despite his willful and purposeful scheming, he did not succeed. Next mentioned is King Xerxes, who issued written orders against Haman, (Es 9:25). But he hardly deserved the real credit for the rescue of the Jews.

Because the author chooses to emphasize the two minor characters and de-emphasize the two major characters, our focus now rests securely on God. His invisible hand was unmistakable throughout the story. Just as our key verse suggests, lots may be cast, the rudder of human will may be determined, but nothing can keep God from doing as He chooses.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY The Bible is obviously filled with stories of God's heroes, people like Moses and Daniel and Esther and Paul. But the emphasis in the Bible remains upon God. So should it be in our lives today. God works through His people, yes—but we do well to remember they are simply human. The glory rests with God. Pray for the people through whom you see God working, thanking God for their devotion and influence. But don't neglect to glorify God for what is ultimately His work! MBI - Today in the Word

Esther 10:1, 2, 3; x Ps 39:4, 5, 6, 7

Show me, O Lord, my life’s end. - Psalm 39:4-note

TODAY IN THE WORD A look at Time's most important people of the twentieth century produces a few not-so-common names: Emmeline Pankhurst, Leo Baekeland, and Louis B. Mayer. Only the Trivial Pursuit buffs are likely to know that Pankhurst was responsible for women's suffrage in England, Baekeland for designing the first plastic, and Mayer for founding MGM. Their accomplishments, while noteworthy, don't guarantee that their names have an indelible place in our memories.

And so it is with human greatness—quite often limited to an era and then left at the mercy of the historians. King Xerxes and Mordecai are no exceptions to this rule. King Xerxes was the greatest man of his time, ruler of the world's largest empire. He raised extravagant wealth for himself and the kingdom (Es 10:1) and his “power and might” were undisputed in his time. Mordecai enjoyed the power and prominence of being his right-hand man. He was esteemed by his people and held in high regard (Es 10: 3). The book of Esther doesn't even claim to have recorded all their acts of greatness, so notably vast they seemed. But other world leaders and advisers have come along with greater, more impressive kingdoms and exploits.

Their moment of glory lasted but for a fleeting moment, fulfilling what the psalmist noticed: “Each man's life is but a breath” (Ps 39:5NIV-
note). It can be dismal to look at life in this way. In fact, each of us fears the brevity of our lives, wondering if we're the fool who “bustles about, but only in vain; [who] heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it” (Ps 39:6NIV-note). To acknowledge our lives as but a blip on the screen of human history sobers us to ask one question: will I have lived a life of purpose?

The only purposes that stand eternal are God's purposes. The only kingdom to last forever is God's kingdom. The only rewards to outlast our life here on earth are heavenly ones. All of this the psalmist knew, so he makes his declaration clear: “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you” (Ps 39:7NIV-
note).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY One man conquered death along with its curse of personal irrelevance—Jesus Christ. The apostle John put it this way: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (Jn 21:25). Have you trusted Him to save you from your sins and eternal death? Have you surrendered your life to living for His kingdom? It's the most important decision that you could ever make. MBI - Today in the Word

 

DEVOTIONAL
C H Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Esther 10:3 (Morning and evening)

“Seeking the wealth of his people.” — Esther 10:3

Mordecai was a true patriot, and therefore, being exalted to the highest position under Ahasuerus, he used his eminence to promote the prosperity of Israel. In this he was a type of Jesus, who, upon his throne of glory, seeks not his own, but spends his power for his people. It were well if every Christian would be a Mordecai to the church, striving according to his ability for its prosperity. Some are placed in stations of affluence and influence, let them honour their Lord in the high places of the earth, and testify for Jesus before great men. Others have what is far better, namely, close fellowship with the King of kings, let them be sure to plead daily for the weak of the Lord’s people, the doubting, the tempted, and the comfortless. It will redound to their honour if they make much intercession for those who are in darkness and dare not draw nigh unto the mercy seat. Instructed believers may serve their Master greatly if they lay out their talents for the general good, and impart their wealth of heavenly learning to others, by teaching them the things of God. The very least in our Israel may at least seek the welfare of his people; and his desire, if he can give no more, shall be acceptable. It is at once the most Christlike and the most happy course for a believer to cease from living to himself. He who blesses others cannot fail to be blessed himself. On the other hand, to seek our own personal greatness is a wicked and unhappy plan of life, its way will be grievous and its end will be fatal.

Here is the place to ask thee, my friend, whether thou art to the best of thy power seeking the wealth of the church in thy neighbourhood? I trust thou art not doing it mischief by bitterness and scandal, nor weakening it by thy neglect. Friend, unite with the Lord’s poor, bear their cross, do them all the good thou canst, and thou shalt not miss thy reward.


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