By Rosco Brong, 1968
A Queenly Queen
Scripture: Esther 4:8, 13-16; 7:1-7
Related Scripture: Psalm 46
Esther was the younger cousin and foster daughter of the Jew Mordecai, brought up in Babylon captivity. (Esther 2:7, 15). Dutifully obeying Mordecai’s instructions, Esther won over other contestants for the position of queen to replace Vashti, who had been divorced for disobeying the king, Ahasuerus. The king did not know that Esther was a Jew, but apparently Mordecai had brought her up well to be a good wife, even for a king, with the result stated in 2:17.
“And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashta”
Meanwhile, a man named Haman became the king’s favorite official, though Mordecai the Jew also enjoyed some royal favor. When Mordecai, however, refused to bow to the current favorite, he earned the mortal hatred of Haman, who sought revenge not only on Mordecai but on the whole Jewish race.
Taking advantage of the king’s confidence in him, Haman obtained royal authority for a decree of his own wording to destroy all the Jews in the Persian empire. That he was able to get such authority and that Ahasuerus was in a position to give it is just one of a multitude of historical illustrations of the folly of men in permitting the concentration of power in the hands of a few mortal rulers.
Beginning our printed lesson with Mordecai’s message to Esther concerning this decree, we may note:
Need for Intercession, Esther 4:8Notes on the Printed Text:
Death or Destiny, 13, 14
Choice of Faith, 15, 16
Promises of Grace, Esther 7:1, 2
The Burden Lifted, 3-5
The Enemy Defeated, 6, 7
Need for Intercession, Esther, 4:8
The “he” at the beginning of this verse was Mordecai. The “him” to whom Mordecai gave a copy of the decree was Hatach, an official attendant to the queen. Although royal presumption and pride forbade the “reversal” of a royal decree, a later decree could change the effect of an earlier one (8:8); and Esther was in a better position than anyone else in the kingdom to nullify Haman’s wicked plot. Mordecai therefore called upon Esther to use all her queenly influence in intercession for her people.
Death or Destiny, 13, 16.
Faced with a terrible dilemma, Esther reminded Mordecai (verse 11) that she would be risking her very life to come into the king’s presence uninvited. Mordecai’s answer was quite simple: her life was in danger also if she refused to intercede; she herself was of Jewish blood and could no expect to escape when this became known.
Verse 14 is a magnificent statement of Mordecai’s faith which Esther came to share and act upon. Human failure does not mean that the eternal purpose of deliverance for God’s chosen people can be defeated; if one human instrument fails, another will serve the purpose. Our failure, however can mean our own destruction. And who knows but that, if we rise to the challenge, this may be our opportunity for greatness? So did faithful Mordecai challenge his dear cousin, his foster daughter and noble queen, and like a proper queen she nobly rose to her appointment with destiny.
Choice of Faith, 15, 16
In the courage of that faith exemplified by Mordecai, Queen Esther made her decision. She needed all the moral support, all the encouragement of fellowship, that she could get; and so she called upon her fellow Jews and her personal maids to join her in three days of fasting in preparation for the ordeal. She would do what she could, though it cost her life: and if I perish, I perish.”
Promise of Grace, Esther 7:1, 2
Esther laid her plans well, carefully leading the king to a three-time promise before starting her request. The other statements of the promise are in 5:3 and 5:6. She left no excuse of haste or misunderstanding for the king. His promise of grace was clear and unmistakable. The royal honor was now involved, and the time finally came to state her request.
The Burden Lifted, 3-5
What wifely tears, what womanly emotions, what queenly indignation found expression with Esther’s words we can only imagine. The king had promised her half the kingdom: she asked only that he spare her life, and the life of her people. If the enemy had only plotted to enslave them, she cried, she would have kept quiet.
And then she showed how she understood the character of her husband, the heathen king. He had made a bad bargain, she declared in effect; the silver offered by Haman )3:9) could not balance the damage done to the king by removing the Jews from his kingdom.
So the burden was lifted at last from this queenly queen as she laid it upon the shoulders of her king, who had three times promised to grant her request. It was his problem now.
The Enemy Defeated. 6, 7.
Where there is a radical and deadly conflict, the deliverance of one side necessarily involves the defeat of the other. This is a simple matter of logic and a simple lesson of history which some people refuse to face. But the king and queen of our story understood reality, as did even Haman and wise men (6:13).
Some conflicts, like this one, are so radical that the ultimate question if, quite simply, who is to hang on the gallows?
Who knoweth whether thou art come to this kingdom for such a time as this,
Granted that we may not know much about the hidden purposes behind events; this does not mean that any events are accidental. To discover something of divine purpose, and how we may fit into that purpose, is to fulfill the purpose of our own existence.
[From the Ashland Avenue Baptist newspaper, September, 13, 1968, p. 2. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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