Scripture reading – Esther 4; Esther 5

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Our chronological study of the Bible continues with today’s Scripture reading, Esther 4 and 5. Our prior study pitted a wicked usurper named Haman, an Amalekite living in Persia (Esther 3:1), against Mordecai (a godly, influential man of Jewish descent, Esther 2:5-6). Providentially, it was this same Mordecai whom the LORD chose to adopt, raise, and prepare Hadassah (Esther) to be queen of Persia (Esther 2:7-11).

Haman, a proud and vengeful man, was promoted by Ahasuerus, king of Persia, to serve second to him over Persia (Esther 3:1). Though the king decreed for all his servants to bow before Haman, Mordecai, a man of spiritual integrity, “bowed not, nor did [Haman] reverence” (Esther 3:2). 

Haman was enraged. Not only did he despise Mordecai, but he determined to kill all the Jews of the realm (Esther 3:6). Haman, courting the favor of the king that he might seek to avenge the slight he suffered, convinced King Ahasuerus that the Jews were a danger to his kingdom (Esther 3:8). Lacking discernment, the king sealed an edict penned by Haman that set the day for the destruction of the Jews. Couriers took copies of the king’s genocidal decree to the provinces of Persia. Apart from divine intervention, all the Jews were to be killed (Esther 3:13-15).

Mordecai’s Grief

Esther 4


Mordecai’s Grief (4:1-3)

When news of the king’s decree reached Mordecai, he despaired and realized his refusal to bow to Haman was the catalyst for the evil that was sworn against his people. Overcome with sorrow too great to be concealed, Mordecai rent his clothes, put on rough sackcloth, and heaped ashes on his head (Esther 4:1b). He wailed as he walked through the city and came before the king’s gate (Esther 4:2).  Mordecai understood that all was lost without the LORD’s intervention. So, the news of the king’s decree spread until “there was great mourning among the Jews…and many lay in sackcloth and ashes” (Esther 4:3).


Esther’s Distress (4:4-14)

Queen Esther, sheltered in the safety of the royal palace, learned of Mordecai’s distress and sent him new clothes, which he refused (Esther 4:4).  When she sought to know the cause of the great lamentation among the Jews, Mordecai sent her a copy of the king’s edict (Esther 4:5-8). He appealed to Esther that she must “go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people” (Esther 4:8).

Mordecai’s challenge to Esther, the queen (his adopted daughter), was a crisis of faith. She responded to Mordecai’s appeal that there was a law that anyone who entered the king’s court uninvited would risk their life (Esther 4:11). Mordecai, however, warned Esther that when her Jewish ancestry was divulged, not even her throne would spare her life (Esther 4:12-14).  Mordecai then appealed to Esther: Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)


Esther’s Courageous Decision (4:15-17)

Esther heeded Mordecai’s counsel and requested, “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day” (Esther 4:16a).

Notice also the profound influence Queen Esther’s testimony had in the palace. We read that her attendants (“maidens”) also fasted and prayed, even as she set her heart to risk her life and go before the king unsummoned. With the words, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16b), Esther moved to face the king and her fate.

Esther’s Danger and the King’s Devotion

Esther 5 – A Courageous Queen


Esther’s Danger and the King’s Devotion (5:1-8) 

Risking her life, for not even the queen was allowed to enter the king’s court without his invitation, Esther came before the king (Esther 5:1). Seeing his queen, Ahasuerus greeted her and invited her to approach his throne (Esther 5:2a). In the LORD’s providence, the king extended his scepter to Esther. He then offered to grant her whatever she desired, “even given thee to the half of the kingdom” (Esther 5:1-3). 

As wise as she was beautiful, Esther set her plan to save her people in motion. She requested that the king summon Haman for a private dinner with her and the king (Esther 5:4-8). Haman gleefully accepted the invitation for a private dinner with the king and queen (Esther 5:5, 9). Knowing the trap for Haman was not yet ready, Esther delayed her petition to the king and requested a second dinner with the two men (Esther 5:6-8).


Haman, A Proud Fool (Esther 5:9-14)

Blinded by pride, Haman left the dinner “with a glad heart” until he came to the king’s gate, and there he spied Mordecai, who refused to stand or greet him (Esther 5:9).

Haman returned home and boasted to his wife and friends how he had been honored and dined with the king and queen (Esther 5:10-12). Nevertheless, it was Mordecai’s refusal to acknowledge or revere him that burned in his soul (Esther 5:13). Rather than urge him to be cautious, Haman’s wife and friends encouraged him to construct a great gallows (one that would stand 75 feet tall), upon which Mordecai might be hanged (Esther 5:14).


Closing thoughts –

In our study of the Book of Esther, we have seen several instances of divine providence: “The LORD’s sustaining oversight…and His direction of all things to His appointed end and purpose.” Yet, our understanding of the LORD’s providence in Esther’s life comes from the advantage of God’s revelation. Esther and Mordecai, however, had only their faith in the LORD to guide them through the perilous waters of those who meant to harm them and plotted to kill their people.

Think about it: The LORD might have chosen any means to save His people; however, Mordecai believed the LORD had chosen Esther “for such a time” (Esther 4:14). Confident in God’s sovereignty, he believed the LORD would providentially save His people, but it required that Esther trust the LORD and risk all. Mordecai warned that her failure would be catastrophic for her and her people (Esther 4:14)


Closing Challenge –  

The same LORD who led and directed Mordecai and Esther works in our lives. He desires to guide and use us for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28-29). He blesses and promotes His people that they might serve Him. Yet, as Mordecai warned Esther, should we fail to serve Him, the LORD will turn to others, and we will reap the sorrow and consequences of refusing to obey Him and walk by faith (Esther 4:14).

Luke 12:48 “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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