The Plans of Men and the Sovereignty of God

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One of the neat literary features of this book are the strong allusions to the story of Joseph in Genesis. And I mentioned that last week, but I thought I would start by looking at Joseph briefly. Moses in his own way showed how God was working out every detail of Joseph's life even though it seemed as if God was absent and had totally abandoned Joseph. I'm sure that Joseph must have wondered, "Where are you Lord? Don't you care about me?" And yet, looking from hindsight, we can see that God was in every detail ofd that story and that absolutely nothing was by chance. The sinful favoritism of Jacob toward Joseph, the lack of pasture in Shechem, the timing of the Midianite caravan, Potiphar needing a servant right when he did, the manipulations of his wife, and many other details all had to be perfectly in place and perfectly timed for any of it to happen. Yet God says that He had determined to send Joseph down to Egypt long before in order to preserve life.

I often wonder what the diggers of that dry well must have thought. Remember that Joseph was thrown into that dry well while they were trying to determine whether to kill him or not? I have helped to dig wells out in Ethiopia, and it is hard work. And you dig down so low that the opening at the top looks just like a tiny speck– you don't want to go any deeper. And whoever dug that well must have been extremely frustrated that they couldn't find water. It was dry, and every bit of that work was wasted. Or was it? If it hadn't been for that wasted work, Joseph's life would have been wasted. It was that dry well that bought Joseph enough hours of life to let the Midianites arrive. And of course, Reuben who wants to rescue him, just happens to be away when the other brothers sell him. If there is one thing that the Joseph story tells us it is that God's providence is constantly in control of all things (yes, even the sins of men) for the good of His people,. Now, when you are in the midst of it, it doesn't always seem that way.

And Mordecai the inspired prophet in a number of ways helps the reader enter into this profound illusion of the silence of God. For example, he hints that this is an illusion when he keeps bringing in these phrases from the Joseph story to remind the reader that God is in control. Do you know why Mordecai didn't put the name of God into this book one time? The king is mentioned 192 times, and his name "Ahasuerus" is given 29 times, but God's name does not appear once as a word. You know why? It's because God seems to be hidden. And yet, as you read the book, you see God everywhere. This is the paradox. In this book God doesn't work by way of miracles. He works by way of Providence. Miracles are God's fantastic power in the extraordinary. Providence is God's fantastic power in the ordinary. And it is fantastic when you realize that Scripture says – not a detail of life is outside of God's predestination. This book helps us to take delight in God's providence, and to gain a trust in God's providence as being just as fantastic as miracles. Actually, more fantastic. In your desire for miracles (which is legitimate), never downplay the importance of Providence or of the ordinary. It is a far more important doctrine than miracles, and it is far more pervasive. Once you see God in providence, you see Him working everywhere.

So - God is hidden in this book, yet He is powerfully present. And there are a number of ways that the author shows that theme. One that I used to be skeptical of, is the Jewish tradition that Mordecai deliberately hid God's name four times in this book by way of an acrostic. But as I took the time to study what they had to say, (skeptical as I was) I realized that these acrostics are marvelously and strategically placed in this book. Two of the sentences where God's name is hidden are spoken by Gentiles, and two by Jews. Two are by women, two are by men. Memucan gives the first acrostic, then Esther, then Haman then the writer of the book. And there are sixteen features of these acrostics which show that they were not accidental.

And interestingly, some ancient Hebrew manuscripts make these letters larger than the other letters so that they are very noticeable. Here's how the name appears in one of the examples. You read Hebrew from right to left, and so the first letter of each word forms the name Yahweh:

Mwø¥yAh NDmDh◊w JKRlR;mAh awøbÎy

And these enlarged letters are exactly how they appear in these Hebrew manuscripts Four times you find this in the book. And so, that is one of sixteen reasons why I think these letters aren't accidentally, but were truly meant as an acrostic. It shows God hidden, and yet God so powerfully present that even the pagans can't speak apart from God's presence. All men live and move and have their being in God. Their very breath comes from God. That is the fantastic power of God hidden in providence.

Another way in which God shows this theme of providence is in the word "purim," which occurs 10 times. Purim is a pagan word for dice. It was the symbol of chance or luck. Haman cast pur or dice to determine what was a lucky day on which he should kill the Jews. And he started on his day, and it got ruled out, then the next day, then the next. He practically went through the whole year before he found his supposedly lucky day. Well, any Jews reading through that would know immediately that God wouldn't let it fall on just any day. The timing was perfect for God's people. God was in control of the dice. And isn't that exactly what Proverbs tells us?

Proverbs 16:33 "The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD."

In other words, there is no such thing as chance. God controls all.

And with that as a background, I want to start mining the gold field of chapter 2. Chapter 2 deals with the plans of man and the plans of God. Which will stand? If the reader is a student of the Bible, he will instantly know. Proverbs 19:21 says, "There are many plans in a man's heart, Nevertheless the LORD's counsel — that will stand." Amen? We've already seen the frustration of the king's plans in chapter 1 as God shows Darius that Darius is not god. God is God and I am not.

The Plans of the King

Lust Aroused (v. 1)

But in verse 1 and following, we are looking at the seamy side of life. Surely God isn't in control there, is He? Verse 1 says, "After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her." There is a hint here that Darius is sorry. He is sorry that he listened to his friends, that he got drunk, that he got angry and that he had Vashti killed or (as some say, that he divorced her). Chapter 1 didn't say what happened to her, only that it was impossible for her to ever come to him again. I assume that leaves only two options: killed or divorced. Analysis of the Babylonian archives by Brosius shows that Darius's first wife died well before 515 BC. Which, by the way, should have been included in your first point. Well, 515 is the year Esther becomes queen. So the assumption by many commentators that she was killed is not without evidence. But at the very least she was divorced.

But this text says that eventually his wrath subsided, and he remembered her. Several scholars point out that the remembering of her is an amorous remembering. And on the phrase "what she had done," Niditch says, "king remembered what Vashti used to do" – erotic overtones?"1 Both those phrases seem to indicate that he misses either her companionship or at least her eroticism. One commentator said, Ahaseurus misses not a person but a function! So I have labeled this in my notes, "Lust aroused." King Ahasuerus has a harem full of women, but he is not satisfied. And that is so true of lust. It seeks but never finds, and he must have mentioned something out loud because the servants immediately try to say something that will please him. What's the solution to his lack of satisfaction? More of the same. And unfortunately that is the repeated failure of the world today.

There are both men and women in the world today who are on a constant search to satisfy their lusts. They don't have the carnal recources that Darius had at his disposal, but their lusts are aroused and yet never satisfied. Polygamy is outlawed in America, so some men and women have tried serial polygamy (and most divorces and remarriages are serial polygamy). Or it may be through adultery and numerous one night stands that never satisfy. It may be through an undisciplined mind that wanders where it ought not. The text says that he kept remembering Vashti. Some people lose their delight in their husband or in their wife because even while they make love they are imagining things different or even imagining different people. That is a disastrous mistake to make. It leads to dissatisfaction, and envy and can become a breeding ground for lust. The mind is a friend or an enemy depending on how it is used.

Though this passage only describes the problem of lust aroused, and not the solution, I want to spend a little bit of time going over how you can get rid of memories that plague you. For women, it frequently is relational porn like soap operas and romance novels where there is a voyerism of feelings and relationships that set up unrealistic expectations of their husbands. With men it is frequently pictorial porn where there is a voyerism of acts – again setting up unrealistic expectations. But both need to be cleaned completely from the mind. The mind is a horribly undisciplined thing unless we bring it into reign with Biblical disciplines. And there are many Biblical disciplines that we can avail ourselves of. God has given you resources to resist that Darius couldn't even dream of. He can enable the Christian to be contented in any circumstance. Amen?

And one of the most important Biblical disciplines is meditation. Meditation is more than just memorizing Scripture. Meditation involves:

  • Memorization
  • Thoughtful contemplation and understanding of all the in's and outs of the verse
  • Appropriating God's thoughts as your thoughts
  • Ability to use the Scripture as a sword or as a healing agent at a moment's notice
  • Continual review over a period of days and weeks (ie. practice)
  • Application to your situation.

That's all involved in meditation. And I have in the past used the illustration of a cow chewing its cud.

In connection with lust it would be helpful to memorize a series of verses and do the following with them: If an image of a sexually secuctive person or a lustful thought comes to your mind, don't try to get rid of it without replacing that thought with something positive. That was a mistake that I made when I was younger, and it didn't work. You can't just throw images out of your mind - they will keep coming back. Your mind can't operate on a vaccum. Nor can you resist Satan in your own strength. When Christ was tempted, what did He do? Every time he said, "Get behind Me Satan, for it is written." And he would quote the Scripture. The Scripture has a power and an authority that we do not have. The Scripture portions are like a sword that forces the enemy to flee. So in resisting these thoughts of relational or pictorial voyerism, Say something like, "The Lord rebuke you Satan, I will not think upon lustful thoughts because God's word says, "Finally bretheren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do and the God of peace will be with you." (Phil 4:8-9). And for the next few minutes silently quote this and other similar Scriptures to yourself that are replacing your thoughts with God's thoughts. No vacuum, no mere human authority, not trying to beat something with nothing.

It is important that you replace what you are thinking about with its opposite. Don't meditate on passages that describe the sin. Think on passages that deal with purity, discipline, holiness, love to God, fellowship with God, etc. Have a whole repertoire of verses that you can use. You may be tempted a hundred times, and a hundred times come back to these verses until these verses have worn such ruts in the road of your mind that they have obliterated the wicked thought tracks that you used to have. I know from experience that meditation and rebuke on the basis of Scripture can completely rid you of wicked thoughts.

Now obviously you need to flee, and not listen to the advice of the world, but let's move on. We see here lust aroused. But second, we see lust frustrated.

Lust Is Often Frustrated (v. 1)

But you know, built right into life are God's frustrations when we don't do things His way. Though there is delight in sin for a moment, God makes sure that sin let's people down. So you see in verse 1 not only lust aroused, but lust frustrated.

By Our Emotions - His Anger

Obviously his desires toward her had been frustrated by his emotions; his anger. It was his anger in part that lost him his queen. How many good relationships are broken up because of unrestrained ange?. If you have difficulty controlling your anger, get help. Lustful people tend to become more angry because anger flows out of a self-oriented pursuit, and angry people can be easily set up for lust because of this self-orientation. Relationships that are grounded on selfish taking, taking, taking without serving will not last.

By Dwelling on What Is Not Available ("he remembered")

His lusts were also frustrated by his dwelling on what was not available. He remembered, but memories can't satisfy lust. They just spur it on. This is why pornography never aids marriage relationships but rather destroys them. It sets up false criteria for love, false expectations, envy, dissatisfaction and a constant desire for more, and often for weirder experiences. But worst of all, it gives memories that are hard to get out – memories that distort the relationship. Get rid of all forms of porn including soap operas and romance novels that appeal to a woman's weak side every bit as perniciously as pictures do to men.

By the People we Seek to Control (Vashti)

Another thing that lust was frustrated by was people. He couldn't control Vashti. How do you make a person love you or respect you? You can't. Respect can't be commanded. He had lots of women, but no one to relate to as a friend. So it left a hole that couldn't be filled. In fact porn addicts and fornicators become more and more lonely.

By the Stupidity of our Actions ("what had been decreed against her")

And his lust was frustrated by the stupidity of his actions. The phrase "what had been decreed against her" probably grated on him. His previous actions limited his present actions. And that too is what frequently happens with the plans of men. One sinful action closes many doors, while opening others.

Lust Can Find Approval in Others (vv. 2-4)

In this case, lust finds approval in others. There are always people who will market for the lusts of others. These servants knew their king. They knew how to advance – please his every lust. Verses 2-4 say, "Then the king's servants who attended him said, 'Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women's quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king's eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.'" So here are the plans to satisfy his desires and his loneliness. But anybody who has gone down that road knows that it just leaves men emptier. In a sense the porn craze of our society is doing the same thing as this beauty contest was doing for Ahasuerus. It was a search to fill the void of loneliness, emptiness, longing for love and affirmation. But Satan is a liar and the father of lies. It never works.

Lust Deceives (v. 4)

It pleases him. He is deluded into thinking that depersonalized sexuality can satisfy his loneliness

Verse 4 says "this thing pleased the king, and he did so." He is deluded into thinking that depersonalized sexuality can satisfy his loneliness. And over time God prepares this king to want more than sex. Ancient authors tell us that Darius truly loved his second queen – enough to give her tremendous liberties, lands to manage on her own. He made a large, pure gold statue of her. He honored her and showed respect to her. He definitely softened the rules of how wives could relate to him. She reminded him of something that he did not have. And Esther no doubt was of a totally different cut than the other women he knew. In fact some people believe that Darius became a Christian based on Ezra. I'm skeptical, but that is a possibility.

He is deluded into thinking that he is honoring women (v. 4) But think of all those who didn't please the king.

Were their needs met? No. He wants to elevate a woman to queen, and no doubt thinks he is honoring all these women. But it is deception. Porn deceives men by making them think that women want to be treated as objects, want perversion. Verse 4 says he was pleased, but think of all the poor women who were robbed of a husband. They didn't have him as a husband. They were in seclusion unless he happened to remember her name. They were at his disposal, not under his servant leadership.

Lust Depersonalizes (v. 3)

Lust depersonalizes. He was just gathering bodies. He didn't know who they were. They were just virgins to him. And that's all some people can think of when they think of women – a certain function. For Christians that ought not to be. Women should be honored as people. The wife should be elevated, honored, cherished, nurtured, befriended. The bride of the Son of Solomon could say, "this is my friend," because of the way she was treated. But friendship requires investment of time, conversation, nurture. Sexuality must be part of it for it to be healthy, but it should not be alone.

Such were the plans of man. Was God in that? You wouldn't think God could be. He neither sins nor is even tempted to sin. He hates all workers of iniquity. Why would God even be present where sin is present? Yet we know that God also governs iniquity. He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind. God has guaranteed that you reap what you sow. David sowed adultery and he reaped sexual problems in his kids. He sowed murder, and he reaped the murderous tendancies in his children. Listen to what God says to David and tell me whether God's providence can function even in sin. He tells David, "Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun." That's 2 Samuel 12.

God controls by guaranteeing that there is a law of harvest. Remember the illustration that I gave some weeks ago of gravity. The power of my hand restrains a book from falling to the ground. I don't have to slam it to the ground for it to fall. All I have to do is to withdraw my restraining power and it will fall of itself. In the same way, God does not make people sin by slamming them down or forcing them. All He has to do is withdraw His restraining power and of their own accord they will sin. Romans 1 speaks of God giving them up to vile passions. By withdrawing His hand, by giving them up, God guarantees they will fall. Don't think that God's providence is dead in the realm of America's eroticism. The laws of harvest continue to function and to overrule.

The Plans of God

God doesn't react.

His plans were in action long before (v. 5) Some of the plans of God may have seemed like a lack of plan and disaster and confusion. But in hindsight, we can understand (tapestry).

Mordecai had been summoned back to Persia

Well God is going to bring something marvelous out of this seamy situation. God's plans go way back in verses 5-6. You see, unlike king Ahasuerus, God doesn't react. It may sometimes appear like God lacks a plan and is constantly blindsided by disaster and confusion and sin. "Openeness of God Theology" thinks that God doesn't know the future, and as a result is constantly reacting, developing, growing in experience and sometimes being frustrated. Otherwise, why the apparent meaninglessness of life? but nothing in life is meaningless.

If you want a good illustration, think of the tapestries that you see hanging up at Nebraska Furniture Mart. Those huge woven carpets or tapestries are beautiful on the top side, and ugly on the underside. The underside shows no order and arrangement. It is threads of different colors in apparent random. We many times see the under side of history, and it looks like a meaningless jumble of threads. It doesn't seem like God could possibly be in it. But God is weaving for eternity. And the top side of history shows that every thread is being woven to make a beautiful tapestry.

As we saw last week, God's plans started way back in Mordecai's life.

Esther 2:5 "In Shusan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite."

Mordecai probably wished that he had never come back to Persia. "Why didn't I stay in Israel?" But God had developed skills in Mordecai that would be needed not only by God's people, but would be needed by Darius. And God made sure that they were needed at just the right time. He could have been a prophet in Israel. He had been prophecying for at least five years. But God needed him at the palace, and so at the palace you find him.

Shimei was spared the sword.

But God's plans go way earlier. His ancestor Shimei is mentioned because Shimei has a place in 2 Samuel 16. He was a brash young man who took advantage of David when David fled for his life. Shimei threw stones and dirt clods at David and his men accusing them of being bloodthirsty and of killing his relative Saul. The text says, "Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, 'Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!' But the king said, "What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.' Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so." David did not give in to revenge. And if God had not restrained him, Mordecai and Esther would not be alive to save the entire nation at a later time.

Kish, the father of Saul becomes a factor in this story.

Though Saul dies, the other brother lives so that Mordecai and Esther can serve God's purposes (and you too need to be praying for your descendants).

Kish and his descendants is another factor that God has to weave into his tapestry. God made Jonathan, Saul's son, and David become such friends that David promises never to exterminate the seed of Jonathan. God's hand had to be on Kish, Saul, Shimei, Jair and all the people in between. To control anything, God has to control everything. I look back on the ancestry of my mother and my father, and it is fascinating to see the times that God providentially intervened – and marvelously intervened, or we would never be here. Hundreds of stories. One time my mother was waiting on the plane in Detroit, and they were trying to de-ice the wings. Finally they told everyone to get off because the flight had been cancelled. She immediately got her ticket redeemed, dashed off to the train station to catch the train, and as she was leaving heard the speaker saying that they had changed their minds, and that they would take off anyway. She was kicking herself, because now she would be needlessly slowed down. But my father was mysteriously driven to prayer for her at that precise time that God would intervene on whatever danger she was facing. As it turned out, the plane crashed, and everyone aboard was killed. I have a heritage of stories like that going back many generations, and during the time they experienced those things, all my ancestors could see was the ugliness of the underside of the tapestry. That is what providence often looks like from our vantage point. But God was busy weaving something beautiful. And you need to have confidence that God has done so in your ancestry, childhood and he is doing so for your children's future spouses, and for your great grandchildren yet to come. Nothing in your life is a needless thread.

The captivity was a judgment, but it was also a blessing.

Jeremiah 24. It was God's means of spreading the kingdom. But the more fundamental issue is God's control of those wars. God caused Jeconiah to lose and Nebuchadnezzar to win. Daniel 1:2 says, The Lord gave Jehoiakim iking of Judah into his hand..

Let me hurry on. We obviously don't have time to meditate on everything. But God's plans included the captivity of verse 6. God had timed the captivity. But unless Jeconiah had been such a jerk in his relations with Nebuchadnezzar, there would have been no need for that captivity. Ah, but God wanted Mordecai protected in exile rather than being killed in Jerusalem. So there had to be a second captivity. And a third, fourth and fifth one, staggered to fit God's plans.

Scripture says that the exact day that his uncle Abihail died was determined by God's plan

Verse 7 mentions the death of her father, and verse 15 mentions that his name was Abihail. The death of parents is a very sorrowful thing, especially when you lose them in your youth. And some people have wondered why God was not there for them. Scripture affirms that God was indeed there, if they would have eyes to see. The death of every person is ordained for a specific time. And for saints, it is a home going that is precious to God. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

Perhaps there could have been other families to raise Hadassah, but God laid on the heart of Mordecai to do so.

If he hadn't done it, she would have been in Israel, and the likelihood of her being taken would have been greatly reduced.

There could have been other families to raise Esther, but God chose Mordecai. God knew that Mordecai would be returning from the new community in Israel, and God needed Esther in Persia. There are no chances in life.

Her beauty may have seemed like a curse to her.

There are many women who have felt that way. But this too was part of God's plan.

Her beauty at times may have seemed like a curse to her. There are many women who feel that way. "Why did I have to be noticed by this king?" But this too was part of God's plan.

Even the evil of the king's plans were part of God's plan. Shall evil befall a city and the Lord has not done it?

Amos 3:6 says, "If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?"

God Exercises His Will Through Men's Plans

God catches Esther in this dragnet. But while they intend evil, God intends good.

When you first read through the story you may think that it is simply Darius who catches Esther in his dragnet. But the second time through, you know the end of the story, and you know that God catches Esther in this dragnet. As Joseph told his brothers, "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save" "many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones. And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." He was able to avoid bitterness, hatred and revenge by trusting in God's providence. God can guide even pagan men to serve His kingdom purposes and your good.

God prepared Hegai to watch over her

God positioned Hegai into this court to look out for Esther. Those harems were places of intrigue, revenge and turf protection. Sometimes the women were cruel to each other. She would have been on the bottom of the pecking order if it hadn't been for Hegai. Verse 8 ends with "into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women." And verse 9 begins, "Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided her from the king's palace and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women." God was looking out for her even in that pagan court. He provided for her, though He seemed absent.

God gave her favor in his eyes.

She might have been tempted to try to get better treatment by mentioning her royal blood. But Mordecai, perhaps prophetically, had warned her not to (v. 10)

Verse 10: "Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it." She might have been tempted to reveal her royal ancestry to try to receive better treatment when she is being picked on. As a scared young girl it would have been easy to hang on to something like that for security. "Hey, I'm the daughter of a king. You can't do that to me." But Mordecai wisely warned her not to do so. With Haman hanging around, that could have been disaster in the making. Her great, great, great granddaddy had killed almost all of Hamaan's great, great, great ancestors. God used Mordecai's fears to spare her trouble.

Yet despite ignorance of her royal blood, Hegai likes her so well, that he gives her royal treatment.

Yet despite the fact that she can't reveal her royal background, she gets treated royally. She is given the best. Again, it shows God elevating her and giving her favor.

But God doesn't always reveal His will to us. Mordecai wished that he knew more. (v. 11)

But as I have said, God doesn't always reveal His will to us. Mordecai was a prophet, and God had already told him much. But some things were just as much a mystery to him as they were to others. And so verse 11 says, "And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women's quarters, to learn of Esther's welfare and what was happening to her." Do you parents inquire daily into your children's affairs? We need to know what is happening to them. We need to pray for them and seek their welfare as Mordecai did. Trust in God's providence does not mean being careless about our responsibilities. The hymn writer said, "Trust and Obey."

The preparations for King Darius.

In verses 13-14 we aren't told if the women looked forward to this encounter with the king or if they dreaded it. We are just told of the king's likes and dislikes. Nor are we told much about Esther's desires in this matter. We aren't told if her desires were sinful or pure. We aren't told why she didn't ask for anything special for herself when she went into the king. There has been a lot of debate on that. Some have thought that it shows that she wasn't trying out for the position. But whatever the case, whether her desires were sinful or pure, God orchestrated it that Hegai picked out her clothing, jewelery, makeup and everything. Maybe he knew what the king liked. Anyway, verse 17 says, "the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti." Though the king has engaged in multiple sins: polygamy, using women rather than pleasing them, the isolation of these women, the lack of servant leadership, anger, self-centeredness, lust, etc. God irrisitably moves Esther into the position of Queen, for which she was needed. And it seems that He limited her exposure to the evils that she could have faced there.

In any case, Darius makes a huge deal over her. Verse 18 says, "Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holidly in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of the king." In God's providence, he did have a nice side. The nice side was seen in his generosity and his kind disposition to his wife. It wouldn't surprise me if his grief over his actions toward Vashti made him less of a tyrant toward Esther, so that she could approach him when needed. But this lesson is primarily on the providence of God covering even the dark and seamy side of life. He can't control anything if He doesn't control everything. And so this is a story that fills out Ephesians 1:11 which says that He "works all things according to the counsel of His will."

Do you believe that? This chapter is a call to believe that God is just as powerfully and personally present with us in silent Providence as He is in loud miracles. He is just as in control when all you can see is the underside fo the tapestry as when you are looking down from the top. He is just as much on your side when you don't hear His voice as when you do hear His voice. The Lord's providence must be a precious doctrine to us. Let's trust Him to know how to rule. Amen.


  1. Niditch, p. 134

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