Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Devotional Thoughts - Esther

While studying Esther, I've had a couple of interesting thoughts. These thoughts don't impact the story, but I've just wondered about a couple of things.

First, Hegai, the eunuch favored Esther as she was getting her beauty treatments before being presented to Xerxes. Beth Moore stresses that the Hebrew word for how Esther gained favored meant that she actively did something that impressed him. It wasn't just given to her (a finding vs. gaining idea.) Beth had us think about Esther's orphan status during part of our study and it got me to thinking that there had to be young girls that had been taken away to the palace who did not want to be there. Maybe they didn't want to leave family, maybe they had been promised to another young man and they were looking forward to beginning their own life with husband and children. Whatever the reason, I believe there were girls there who needed someone who had already faced loss (being an orphan.) I think we can surmise that Esther had wisdom and she possibly had compassion, as well. Maybe Hegai wasn't as impressed with her manners, speech or look as he was by her kindness and wisdom. What makes a physically beautiful girl even more beautiful? A beautiful spirit. How rare in any age!

Then two days ago I was studying the part of the story where Mordecai wouldn't bow down to Haman, even though it had been decreed by the King. Haman tolerated this behavior for some reason and we know this because it says "day after day" the guards ask him why he won't bow down. If Haman had the King as his back up why didn't he throw Mordecai in prison or have him killed at the first instance of "disrespect"? There had to be something that Haman was afraid of, so to speak. At first I thought, "Wow, Mordecai must have been pretty important - maybe they were equals to some extent," but the Scripture clearly states that Haman was put ABOVE all the other nobles. Then why was Haman hesitating? Did he notice that Mordecai had the ear of the queen? Maybe. But I'm guessing that Haman didn't have a whole lot of worry about the Queen's influence - look what had happened to Vashti. Women were not equal. "What else could it have been?" I wondered. Then it struck me that maybe HAMAN had NOT FORGOTTEN that Mordecai had saved the King's life. It's kind of hard to go into the King whining about someone who won't bow down to you when it's the guy who saved the King. I thought how ironic it would be if that were his reason for tolerating Mordecai's behavior.

Once Mordecai "shows his hand" and reveals that he's a Jew, then Haman must have thought he hit the jackpot. He schemes a way to be oblique with the King and take out not only the Jews, but also Mordecai. Problems solved! Later Haman builds the gallows specially made for Mordecai and the king has him lead Mordecai around like a noble for saving the King's life. I can just imagine Haman thinking, "NOW you just thought of it!" It was just adding insult to insult in Haman's mind, even just by the facts we actually know in the story. I know there are other details that have been left out and certainly we don't NEED to know them or they would have been given to us, but either way God's justice was fully born out on Haman in the end.

We think we can be so clever sometimes scheming for our own way. I had to admit in our Bible study group last week that I had been mean to someone by ignoring them. I had justified in my mind that it was better that I NOT stop in the church foyer to talk to that person when my husband stopped (and by the way, Mark was the one actually hurt by the person, not me directly), but actually, MORE GODLY to not stop and say something that would be wrong. I would use the excuse of going to pick up one of my children from their classes, but it was an excuse. In essence, I was just giving room for that hurt and bitterness to fester and grow and not being kind by walking away. I didn't realize what I was doing until Beth said, "What are you feeling threatened by?" Bingo! I knew I felt threatened by this man's influence over my husband. It took Beth asking me to look for a deeper answer and actually a friend calling it sin before I could even see it. Amazing how blind we can be, isn't it?

I don't know about you, but I'd like to be more like Esther. A beautiful creation of God whose spirit only makes me more beautiful. I want to be brave enough to have the Holy Spirit so transform my life, that I am not longer seen, but Christ who lives in me. Thank goodness He keeps working on us and never gives up!

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