Pastoral Commentary for Esther 2:19-4:17
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Esther is the only book of the Bible that never mentions God. This was a deliberate omission, intended to help us see God at work in our lives, even when His presence is not obvious. Throughout the story of Esther God is clearly at work to rescue His people. Just as God was at work to have Esther chosen as queen, so He was at work in strategically placing Mordecai so that he could overhear a plot to assassinate King Xerxes. Mordecai informed Esther who warned the king, giving credit to Mordecai. An investigation was conducted and the conspirators were executed. At this point the villain of the story is introduced. Haman was an Agagite, which may explain his hatred for the Jews. King Saul destroyed the Amalekites and took their king, Agag prisoner before killing him. (His title may also refer to a Persian district identified as Agag.) When Haman was exalted to the highest office below the King, he demanded homage be paid to him that Mordecai's conscience would not permit him to give. It may have involved an act that implied worship, which the faithful Jew Mordecai would render only to the LORD. Haman was incensed and determined to kill not just Mordecai but all the Jewish exiles in Babylon. Lots were cast and a day was chosen to eradicate the Jews. Haman then went to King Xerxes on his xenophobic mission and sought the king's approval. He even offered a huge reward from his own wealth to those who would carry out the king's edict. Xerxes didn't care about the exiles, and by giving Haman his signet ring, authorized him to order the destruction of the Jews. The decree was written as law in the language of every province and sealed with the king's ring. When the decree was issued King Xerxes and Haman celebrated, but the citizens of Susa were puzzled by such a pronouncement. Mordecai went into mourning as soon as he learned of the edict. All the Jews fasted and prayed. Queen Esther was still unaware of the decree when she heard of Mordecai's mourning. One of her attendants went to Mordecai and returned with news of the plot to annihilate the Jews. He told Queen Esther that Mordecai wanted her to go to the King and plead with him on behalf of her people. In response, Esther reminded Mordecai that no one could approach the king unless summoned by him. If he did not extend his royal scepter to welcome that person, they could be put to death. Mordecai warned Esther that she would not escape just because she was a member of the royal household. Confident that God would rescue His people in some manner, Mordecai warned that if she kept silent, Esther and her father's family would surely perish. Then Mordecai reminded her, "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Queen Esther asked Mordecai and all the Jews in Susa to join her and her attendants in three days of fasting and prayer, "Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish." Esther decided that she should fear God, rather than man.