Esther – intro

It’s an odd thing… there are at least 2 books in the Bible that don’t mention God at all… One of them is the Songs of Solomon, the other is Esther.

It makes you wonder why a story that doesn’t mention God would be included in a book that is all about God…?

But, just because God isn’t mentioned in Esther doesn’t mean it isn’t about God. In fact, the book of Esther assumes that you are already familiar with who God is, how he works, and what he values. It assumes you already know about wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).

I’m guessing that not many of us are really that familiar with the book of Proverbs which gives guidance for making the wise decisions that God would approve of… So let’s get familiar with some of the bakground to Esther so that we can appreciate the story in all it’s fullness.

Like all good action-drama stories the Esther story has a background setting: in this case, Esther is set in the royal Babylonian/Persian city of Susa (about 486-465BC) while Israel was still exiled there. There is also a King whose decisions provide the catalyst for the story.

Like all good action-drama stories the Esther story also has some villains and some heroes: The main villain is Haman, and there are some small time villains on the side like Bigthana and Teresh (Esther 2:21).

The Heroes of the story are of course… Esther, and Mordacai. But wait… we have missed the real Hero of the story… The real hero of the story is actually God himself. For he is the one who is in complete control throught all the drama and suspense of the story.

Given that this is how the story and the characters are set, here are some Proverbs that will give us a hint of what to expect in this Esther story.

About the King:
14:35 “A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury.”
19:12 “A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.”
20:2 “A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives.”
20:26 “A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them.”
21:1 “In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.”
25:15 “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.”
29:26 “Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the LORD that one gets justice.”

About the Villains:
10:27 “The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short”
29:23 “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.”
11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
11:5 “The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.”
11:6 “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.”
11:8 “The righteous are rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead.”
11:10 “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.”
25:6-7 “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.”
29:27 “The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.”
28:28 “When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.”
24:21-22 “Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials, for those two will send sudden destruction on them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?”

About the Heroes:
22:11 “One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.”
27:18 “Those who guard a fig tree will eat its fruit, and those who protect their masters will be honored.”
29:27 “The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.”
16:1-3 “To human beings belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue. People may think all their ways are pure, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
16:9 “In their hearts human beings plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”
16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”
19:21 “Many are the plans in a human heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

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