Series: Shaped by Environment
Preacher: Jessyka Albert
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 69:7-12.
Read: Esther 1-4 (Message). Note 1-3 insights/questions that arise from the paraphrase.
Reflect: The beginning of chapter two tells us that after the king’s anger subsided he began to feel lonely. What better way to cheer him up than to gather every beautiful, young virgin in the kingdom? One of these women could certainly take the place of Vashti while the others could make nice additions to the harem. At this point in the story, we are introduced to two Jews: Mordecai and his orphaned cousin Hadassah. We know Hadassah by her Persian name, Esther.
As the story unfolds, the peripheral environment that Mordecai and Esther live in becomes clear. Esther was rounded up with all the other beautiful, young virgins, understanding the significance of her fate in being added to a pagan king’s harem. The first chapter of this book mentions nothing about God, but we are able to dismiss that on the premise that the chapter is about ungodly rulers. Now two Jews enter the story, but nothing except their heritage defines them as people of God. In fact, Mordecai instructs Esther not to let anyone know she is a Jew.
After an entire year of beautification, one by one the women spend a night with the king. They are then added as an insignificant number to the royal harem unless the king summons on of them by name. We are told Esther is extremely beautiful—but so are all the women. Still, verse 15 of chapter 2 notes that, “Esther found favor in the eyes of all who encountered her.” She was more than just a pretty face. Although she was immersed in an overwhelming peripheral environment, she didn’t completely blend in.
Esther continues to find favor with Hegai, who was in charge of all the king’s women, and then obviously found favor with the king himself. The royal crown is set upon her head, and, as he seemed to do for all great celebrations, the King throws another banquet. All the while, Esther keeps her lips sealed and does not reveal a word about her true identity.
Respond: Pray for significance.
Research: Research Esther and Mordecai’s family tree in the Bible.