Esther 1: A Smiling Face
August 20, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
We begin the famed, beautiful, astonishing story of Esther. Chapter 1 sets the stage. The king has a feast for his officials and servants (1:3), showing his riches and greatness for 180 days (1:4). It is followed by a feast for all the people in Susa—a massive, expensive, exuberant, no-holds-barred, alcohol-infused party (1:5-8). It goes on for seven days (1:5).
At the end of those seven days, the king, in good spirits (a somewhat amusing euphemism for someone who presumably now has been drinking non-stop for a week) ordered that his wife appear before them all (1:11). He wanted to show off her beauty. For some reason, the queen refused this request (1:12). We can speculate—and it is not hard to do—why she would refuse. It would have seemed demeaning perhaps, embarrassing, lecherous, undermining of her royal status to be so paraded like a show horse.
Whatever her reasons, her refusal was disastrous for her position. The king was angry to have his will so publicly slighted, and he calls his “wise men” to give him counsel as to the right course of action (1:12-15). Understanding that the queen had a public role, they believed that her action would encourage other women to behave in the same way, and so it was necessary that the king equally publicly banish her from his presence (1:16-22).
End of chapter 1. Esther is a great story, and in some ways it is almost better to read from start to finish in one sitting to get a sense of the drama. This chapter, like all the other chapters, has no mention of the name of God. And yet throughout this chapter, as all the others, God is working through all the circumstances and events. Even this argument between the king and his wife was used by God to bring Esther herself into a position of critically timed influence, as we shall see.
At this point in the story, though, it is well to remember how important it is to see beyond the veil of human events to the hand of God in all. We can too easily view the lives of the rich and famous, the celebrity, the powerful politician or business leader, as outside the control of God. But not at all—even a king’s tiffs with his wife are all part of God’s plan and for his purpose.
Take comfort then, Christian, in the sovereignty of God. He moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform, and rides upon the storm, behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.*
*God Moves in a Mysterious Way by William Cowper
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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