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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Esther - The Study of Providence

Don Smith :: The Study of Providence - Esther 2

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Exposition of Esther - Chapter Two

How Was God’s Providence at Work Selecting a New Queen?

  1. God used the enmity of a king and queen to position His queen into the court.
    1. Esther 2:1-4
      • “After these things,” the king became remorseful for his quick temper that banished his wife from his court.
      • He remembered fondly her presence seated next to him.
      • Alone and regretful, the king could not rescind his royal edict as one of the unalterable laws of the Persians and Medes.
      • Trapped by his impetuousness, he lamented being alone.
      • The king’s servants, however, were careful to remind him that his edict also put into effect a call to begin an international search for the most beautiful, young virgin to be his next queen.
      • He was “pleased” by the prospect of finding a “pretty young thing” to fill his void.
      • The court officials put into action a plan to identify, gather and prepare young girls for a Miss Persia beauty contest.
      • God in His providence was working behind closed palace doors to position His chosen woman to become the next queen.
      • He can and does use the enmity of the serpent, as well as the enmity between men and women, to bring about ultimate good for His glory and the glory of His Seed.
  2. God used the captivity of a “certain Jew” to raise up a beautiful young Jewess to be God’s chosen woman as the next queen of the world’s most powerful nation.
    1. Esther 2:5-7
      • The identity of Mordecai as “a certain Jew” is another biblical way of describing God’s chosen and appointed man and messenger.
      • This “certain Jew” seems to be renamed “Mordecai,” a Persian name likely taken from the Persian deity named “Marduk.”
      • Mordecai was of the tribe of Benjamin, a son Jair, the son of Shemei, the son of Kish.
      • This made him of royal blood through the seed of King Saul.
      • Kish and his family, including Mordecai, were taken captive to Babylon in BC 597, when Nebuchadrezzar deported the King of Judah, Jeconiah (2 Kings 24:12), as well as many other Jews living in Jerusalem.
      • Mordecai’s uncle Abihail and his aunt died, perhaps in the destruction of Jerusalem, leaving their young daughter orphaned.
      • Mordecai assumed the duties of a kinsman redeemer and adopted his cousin as his own daughter rather than making her his wife, as Boaz did in purchasing and marrying Ruth.
      • Hadassah (Esther) was Mordecai’s cousin, adopted to be his daughter.
      • Her name Hadassah in Hebrew means “myrtle.”
      • In biblical typology, the myrtle tree was symbolic of God’s lovingkindness and forgiveness in exchange for the thorns and thistles that resulted from Israel’s sin. (Isaiah 41:19; 55:13)
      • Hadassah would be a reminder of God’s covenantal faithfulness to His people.
      • This would become evident when God’s providential plan was fully revealed for her.
      • Her name was changed in Persia to “Esther” which means “Star” or “Light.”
      • She would become a radiant star in the eyes of both Jews and Gentiles.
      • We are reminded that God used the tragic death of Esther’s parents, the captivity of Benjamin’s tribe in Babylon, and Mordecai’s willingness to adopt Esther for a greater good, as the preservation and propagation of the woman’s Seed.
      • Mordecai was also placed in a position to be used by God for things he could never have imagined.
  3. God gave Esther favor in the eyes of the king’s custodian of women.
    1. Esther 2:8-11
      • Beauty contestants from around the kingdom gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the supervision of Hegai.
      • The Lord gave Esther “favor” (hesed or lovingkindness or grace) in his eyes, even as Daniel found favor in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar.
      • Hegai gave Esther personal attention, inside advice and special preparation so she could come before the king wearing his favorite perfumes, jewelry and hairstyle.
      • This would become a huge advantage for Esther, even though her beauty was extraordinary.
      • She was given seven choice handmaidens to care for her every need.
      • Her accommodations were the finest in the palace.
      • Out of respect and obedience to Mordecai, Esther did not disclose to anyone her national and racial identity as a Jewess.
      • Esther and Rahab (one a virgin and one a harlot), used secrets to their advantage.
      • Esther protected her identity as a Jew, while Rahab protected the Jewish spies.
      • In both cases they were women called upon to protect the Seed.
      • Esther apparently was not hindered or bothered by eating unclean Gentile foods prohibited in the Mosaic Law like Daniel and his friends, who lived in the court of Nebuchadnezzar.
      • Also, she didn’t or couldn’t keep the law that prohibited the marriage of a Jew to Gentiles.
      • Esther followed the advice and counsel of Mordecai.
      • She lived by faith in God’s providence that this was an opportunity made possible by Him.
      • Everyday while Esther primped and prepared for the Miss Persia contest, Mordecai was outside the women’s court pacing back and forth.
      • He paced like all anxious fathers who want the best for their daughters but don’t know how they are doing.
      • It must be remembered that there is little evidence to support the idea that Mordecai placed his daughter into the pageant.
      • Instead, it is very likely Esther was chosen, in God’s providence, by the king’s officials as they searched Shushan for beautiful girls.
      • Mordecai knew that once entered into the pageant, every girl became the property of the king.
      • If they weren’t chosen to be the Queen, they were placed in perpetuity as one of his many concubines.
      • So, Esther and Mordecai were dependent upon the Lord to make what looked like a devastating turn of events into good.
      • But how could this evil be used by God for good?
  4. God used the king’s immoral practice of selecting a queen to place His chosen woman on the throne.
    1. Esther 2:12-14
      • Each of the pageant contestants was treated like queen for a day.
      • They were given all they wanted and needed to make them acceptable to the king.
      • They bathed in rare perfume oils, and pampered themselves with expensive jewelry and cosmetics.
      • It is estimated the king entertained at least one girl every night for four years (1,461).
      • If in the morning they hadn’t met his expectations, they were placed into the king’s harem as concubines.
      • The king, as well as men to this day, often quickly judge a women’s worth not as persons of value, but as objects of desire.
      • This is how the king treated Vashti and now he was selecting a new queen on the same basis.
  5. God gave Esther favor in the eyes of the king.
    1. Esther 2:15-18
      • After enduring a four-year preparation process, God in His timing established Esther’s day of presentation before the king.
      • She requested to take with her only what Hegai, the king’s custodian, had advised.
      • When she appeared before the throne, Esther “found grace and favor” with the king, as she had found favor with Hegai.
      • The king not only found her attractive, but loved her more than all other women who had come before Him.
      • The Miss Persia contest had a winner!
      • Ahashueras took the crown worn by Vashti and placed it on Esther’s head.
      • She was his new queen.
      • The king then called another national feast and called it “The Feast of Esther.”
      • The coronation invitations went sent out to all the appropriate dignitaries.
      • In his edict, he not only announced his new queen but proclaimed a national holiday to celebrate the empire’s new queen.
      • The citizens in every province rejoiced because not only was there a queen but they also were given a day off, a remission of taxes, and gifts of food to enjoy the holiday.
  6. God placed Mordecai in the king’s gate to bring him future favor in the eyes of the king.
    1. Esther 2:19-21
      • Mordecai was first introduced in the narrative in verse five as being in the citadel.
      • He is later described as walking back and forth in front of the women’s quarters.
      • It would appear he had been given some kind of clearance or position that enabled him such access to these things.
      • Now Mordecai is sitting in the king’s gate.
      • This may have been an advancement of position made possible by Esther or it may be a more definitive description of the duties he previously enjoyed.
      • Those who sat in the king’s gates were usually men appointed to be judges or elders.
      • They heard the cases brought to them as people entered and exited the citadel.
      • At this point, the reader is also informed that Esther had still not revealed her secret identity as a Jewess.
      • This is to remind us that both Esther and Mordecai each enjoyed prosperity in the king’s court because they hadn’t yet disclosed their identity as Jews.
      • While Mordecai was in his position of honor, he overheard a plot by two of the king’s eunuchs to overthrow the king.
      • The eunuchs were furious with the king, perhaps over the selection of Esther rather than the girls they tried to advance as queen.
      • Mordecai, fearing his daughter’s life, informed her of this political coup d’état.
      • She in turn told the king that this plot had been foiled by Mordecai, giving his name.
      • The king ordered an investigation into these allegations.
      • The men were given the death penalty and hung on the gallows.
      • The case of “Bigthan and Terest vs. King Ahashuerus” was written into the official records of the court in the presence of the king.
      • This bit of information about this public record will later come to play a critical part in God’s providence.
      • No detail is spared, no decision unrecorded and no action is by chance.
      • The invisible hand of God was definitely at work in the life of Esther.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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