Timing Can Be A Beautiful Thing

Categories: God › Sovereign Rule › Providence Life Christian › Attitudes › Influence Life Christian › Attitudes › Trust or Faith

The Puritan writer, John Flavel said, "Some Providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backwards." If you were to read Hebrew from left to right like we read English, it wouldn't make any sense. You've got to read it backwards - from right to left. And there are a lot of things that don't make sense in providence while we are experiencing them. We look at the book of Esther and stand in awe and amazement at the perfections of God's providence. In hindsight it all makes sense, right? We know the incredible story of chapter 6, but Esther doesn't. She has no idea that there is a major set-up that God has already accomplished. By the time we have read chapter 6 we know that all is safe and that Haman is toast. But the king doesn't know it. Esther doesn't know it. Haman might have begun to suspect it.

Lessons of Providence

Three attitudes to God's Providence: oblivious (king), foreboding (Haman), anxious (Esther) (v. 1)

And I think its worth while to stand in the shoes of each of these characters. Verse 1 says, "So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther." The king is not at all preoccupied with Haman's problems. He is curious as all gets out about what Esther's up to, but he is oblivious to the fact that God has been using him as a pawn every step of the way. Now - does the king's ignorance make the providence any less sure? No.

Haman probably has a deep foreboding that he is in trouble. His wife and his counselors have just finished saying that he is headed for a big fall. Probably the last place that Haman wants to be right now is at this banquet. He's feeling terrible, and might be tempted to try to escape. But does his foreboding that he is in trouble disturb God's Providence? No. In 6:14 God guarantees that Haman can't run away. "While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs came, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared." Queen Esther too is probably anxious, but it is an anxiety of not knowing what the next step might hold, or perhaps wondering if she will blow it. And it's perfectly natural to have butterflies in your stomach when you are doing something that has an uncertain outcome. That is not cowardice. Cowardice would have backed out and done nothning. There is a big difference between fear and cowardice. A soldier who is dashing for a hill with machine gun fire going all around him might be plenty scared, but the fact that he is doing the right thing shows that he is brave and has courage. In fact, a person is stupid in such a situation if he doesn't have any fear. You can be brave and still have butterflies in your stomache.

Now here's the point: Just as none of these people affected God's providence at all even though they had wildly different emotional states, our lack of trust in God's providence or a great trust in providence does not affect the providence at all. It simply affects our joy or lack of joy, our angst or lack of angst. I remember a pastor telling me the story of a teenager who was walking across a trestle bridge in the dark when a train came behind him. He knew that he couldn't run fast enough to get out of the way. And he couldn't even see clearly enough in the dark to keep his feet from falling through, so he climbed onto the under side of the bridge and hung on to one of the cross beams. It was so dark that he couldn't see anything, but he expected that he was quite a ways up. He wasn't too concerned because he was fairly athletic and could climb back up onto the bridge after the train passed. The only problem was that this train was longer than he expected, and it was jostling the bridge more than he expected and it was making it hard for to hold on. By the time the train had passed overhead he was so tired that he didn't have the strength to get back up on the bridge. He struggled and struggled and felt his grip weakening by the second. Finally he felt his fingers slip off the bridge and fully expected to fall to his death, but found to his surprise that he only fell two feet to the solid earth. If he had known it was two feet, he wouldn't have had any anxiety at all, would he? In fact, he wouldn't have hung on for so long. But the dsistance to the earth didn't change between the time that he was confident and the time that he was experiencing sheer terror. And in the same way, the reality of Providence doesn't change because people doubt it. What changes is us. The doctrine of Providence is so practical because it produces confidence and boldness in God's people. In fact, I think the doctrines of Predestination and Providence were the two most stabilizing and encouraging doctrines I have ever been taught. Some Christians are oblivious to it, and receive no comfort whatsoever from Providence. It's there. It's working for them. But they aren't comforted by it. Others doubt that God's providence is working for their good. Others trust God's providence completely in their mission impossibles, but they still have butterflies in their stomach. Though God comes through for the one just as much as He does for the other, it is obvious that the one who is firmly established upon this doctrine of Providence is the one who benefits the most. Right? So study God's providence. Make it part and parcel of your daily thinking. You will be surprised how many times this doctrine gives you peace in the face of a storm, gives you confidence in the face of uncertainty, gives you joy in the midst of trial. I cannot emphasize enough the value and importance of having it uppermost in your minds.

What a difference a day makes (v. 2)

A second lesson for those of you who want to rush God's Providence is given in the first phrase of verse 2. Verse 2 says, "And on the second day…" Just imagine the outcome of chapter 7 if the events of chapter 6 had not occurred in the previous 24 hours. It would have been disaster. If it hadn't been for the sleeplessness of the king last night, no one would have known that Mordecai was a national hero – a man who had saved the king's life. If it hadn't been for Haman's sleepless anxiousness to get Mordecai hanged, he wouldn't have appeared on the scene in time. In fact, God has been very busy in the last 24 hours in setting the stage for Esther's safety and Haman's doom. It has gotten the king's curiosity really going. It has given time for Haman to build a gallows to hang Mordecai. In fact, most of the things needed for the ironies of this chapter to unfold were set up in the last 24 hours. What a difference one day makes. 24 hours earlier Haman is one of the richest, most powerful men in the world who had been honored beyond what he could imagine, and the next day he is stripped of his honor, crushed in his pride, has his head covered and is executed on the very gallows that he planned to hang Mordecai.

We might think, "What if Esther had told the king on the first day?" It's possible that she was kicking herself for losing nerve to ask the king earlier. "OHHH! Why didn't I do it?!?" We aren't told why she postpones her answer. But what we do know is that there can be no "What ifs" in God's plan. Too many times we Christians second guess the times we have blown it in the past with groans of "If only I had…" or "What if I hadn't…" And while we do need to learn from our mistakes, its not good to beat up on ourselves about blown opportunities. God's perfect timing can even work through our unwanted foul ups. We will spend some time on the lessons of prudence this morning, but this lesson of Providence is that we shouldn't try to rush God's providence or after the providence has happened, wish that it was different. Whether meditating on God's providence future or past, trust it to be perfect. What a difference a day makes. It's not worthwhile to think "What if Esther had spoken the day before." God orchestrates timing even through our fears and our weaknesses to accomplish His purposes.

The king's promise (v. 2)

Point C - think of the king's promise in verse 2. "And on the second day, at the banquet of wine, the king again said to Esther, "What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!" I've sometimes wondered how often the king made rash promises like this. But God put him in such a state of mind that Esther's confidence was building and the king's ability to back out was diminishing. To fail to do something would be a blow to his pride. Why was this important? Because we have already seen that asking the king to reverse a public decree would be such a blow to his pride that it would be a miracle if he would even attempt to reverse himself. But God is marvelously setting the king's pride against his own pride. Just as God can use pagans against other pagans like at the tower of Babel, God can use the sins of pagans to counter their own sins and make them open to His purposes. I never cease to be amazed at how God's providence works in all things.

To lose such a queen (vv. 3-5)

Another thing that God mollifies this king with is the submissive, quiet and meek spirit of Esther. She is such a contrast with Vashti. I'll comment on Esther's prudence in verses 3-5 later, but if the king regretted his loss of Vashti earlier, God enables the king to see the incredible character, loyalty and wisdom of this queen in her speech.

Esther 7:3-5 "Then Queen Esther answered and said, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king's loss."

No demanding, petulance or manipulative tears. This is not a woman whom the king wants to lose. This is a woman he has already been enamored with. In fact, according to 2:17 the king loved her more than all his wives. Secular history tells us that Darius was deeply in love with his second wife, and honored her in numerous ways, including making a golden statue of her. This was the woman who had communicated Mordecai's message to save the king's life. To lose such a queen was unthinkable to him. And before he finds out that it is his decree that has done this, God makes sure that he knows every reason why he can't lose her.

I left out a point actually. Verse 5 shows the marvelous way in which God has kept the king ignorant of the decree. But I will comment on that later.

Haman was already prepared for this terror (v. 6)

Esther 7:6 "And Esther said, 'The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!" So Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.'"

If this had been one day before, Haman may not have been so terrified. He could have quickly concocted tales of the treason and treachery of the Jews. But too much has gone under the bridge for him to be able to think of any way out. The king himself has honored Mordecai publically for saving his life that very morning. How is he going to believe that Mordecai represents a people at odds with the king's best interests.

The king's absence (v. 7)

That doesn't mean that Haman doesn't try to dig his way out. He is a resourceful person and the king's immediate anger and absence gives him time to use his skill with words to try to change Esther's mind. Knowing the king's pride, the irreversibility of his decree, etc., he still has a chance if he can sweet talk or plea bargain with Esther. After all, the king has promised Esther up to half of his kingdom, and this is going to be very hard for the king to reverse. If she can be persuaded, he may be OK "Then the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stood before Queen Esther, pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king." The king is in a quandary. Here's how Fox's commentary puts questions into the king's mind: "Can he punish Haman for a plot he himself approved? If he does so, won't he have to admit his own role in the fiasco [and lose face]? Moreover, he has issued an irrevocable law; how can he rescind it?" You can see why he left the room in frustration.

But God knows that the resourceful Haman will use the king's absense to to plea bargain, something he would not have otherwise been able to do. But what appears to be a window of opportunity for Haman actually sets him up for even worse.

The timing of Haman's slip and fall provides a convenient excuse for the king to take the focus off of his irresponsible decree and onto Haman for other offenses (v. 8)

Whether an angel trips Haman, or he slips on his own, we aren't told, but if you know Persian protocol, you know that Haman could not have deliberately fallen on Esther's couch. In fact, Harem protocol dictated that when the king left, Haman would leave. He should not have been alone with the queen. . But where could he go? His options were to follow the king who had bolted in anger from the room, or to flee, which would suggest guilt and invite pursuit. His decision to stay and plead for his life is very rational since the king had promised her up to half of his kingdom. If she would pardon him, he would be saved. But falling on the couch was not rational. According to Persian protocol, a man had to stay at least seven steps away from a woman of the king's harem. So, kneeling on the floor (at least seven steps away), yes, but falling on the couch – unthinkable. But the unthinkable happens.

Esther 7:8 "When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was."

Talk about bad timing on Haman's part. I like to think of Esther's angels enjoying every minute of this. "Hey Gabriel. Look what's going to happen now" as he trips Haman. Actually, an early Jewish Targum does say that Gabriel the Archangel shoved Haman so that he sprawled all over the couch and of course over Esther. We aren't told how God orchestrated this timing so perfectly, but the king sees Haman in this inappropriate posture and it gives the king an easy way out of having to deal with his dilemma. He can punish Haman for something unrelated.

As we will find in chapter 8, the king doesn't lift a finger at this point to save other Jews. I'm sure the king is angry at himself for having given Haman so much power, is angry that he can't change his decree, is angry at Haman, is angry at the world. But he is frustrated as well, because it was after all his fault, his decree and his bad judgment. This nice little touch of making Haman fall on the couch gives the king a convenient excuse to charge Haman. I doubt very much that the king really thought that Haman was trying to rape Esther. But appearances are appearances and the king probably finds this providence of God a relief since it takes the attention off of his decree and onto Haman for a totally different reason. In verse 8 he uses this irrational charge of rape to dissipate the tension. "Then the king said, "Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?" As the word left the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face." These servants didn't need to be told to conclude that Haman was condemned to death. They were quick to read the king's desires and they jumped to action.

The timing of Harbonah's words (v. 9)

But, just in case the king might show some clemency and forgive Haman, God's Providence makes sure that Harbonah spills the beans about the gallows. Any possibility of clemency would be ruled out by this revelation because Haman's attempt to kill Mordecai was an attempt to kill a hero who had saved the king's life. A man whom the king just that morning had honored with the highest honor. These words in verse 9 seal Haman's fate.

Esther 7:9 "Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said to the king, 'Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king's behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.''Then the king said, "Hang him on it!'"

The timing of Haman's gallows (v. 9)

Think of the Providence involved even in Harbonah being able to offer this information. First, if the gallows had been erected this morning (rather than last night), Harbonah would have been on duty and would not have known who they were for. But they were built the evening before when Harbonah was no doubt off duty. Second, the suggestion of Haman's friends was not just to stone Moredai, or hang him on a tree. They wanted to make this a grand spectacle. Fifty cubits high is 75 feet high! We're talking about something that draws attention. I've often wondered what Mordecai felt like as he saw those gallows erected. This no doubt prompted Harbonah that morning to inquire who was getting hanged and to get the details. If it had not been for his curiosity, he would not have known so quickly. And finally, because this gallows was so tall and prominent and so close to the palace, Harbonah could say, "Look," and point out the window, and it would be visible to all. Can you see how God's Providence has to control everything to control anything?

Cooling the temper of this king (v. 10)

But it wouldn't serve God's purposes for this king to remain angry. If you remember from chapter 2:1, the king has quite the temper. It took a long time for his anger over Vashti to subside, but God can't have that here. The king needs to be in a mood to talk with the queen in chapter 8, to promote Mordecai, etc. And hanging Haman seems to resolve his anger. Verse 10 says, "So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's wrath subsided." Can you see how even emotions have to factor into God's Providence.

Charles Spurgeon. He said,

"There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God's sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne...for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust."

I would urge you to not only believe in this Calvinistic doctrine, but to spread it wherever you can. It is in the best interests of other Christians that they become convinced of Romans 8:28 and of God's absolute sovereignty over all.

Lessons of Prudence

Belief in Providence should lead to action and responsibility rather than passivity (v. 1-2)

But I want to end by giving some lessons on Prudence. Prudence is not in opposition to sovereignty. It is precisely because we trust God to rule over all of life that we do things his way rather than trying to manipulate life. The doctrine of Providence is not God doing things without human means. That is the doctrine of fatalism. The doctrine of providence is the teaching that God even works through human means and through human free agency. Though God's finger print is all over this book, He works through humans like Esther and Mordecai taking initiative. And one of the interesting things that you will find down through history is that Calvinists are very activist. Calvinistic armies were the most fearless armies and the ones who fought the hardest. Their trust that God was taking care of them led them to not worry about God's part and to focus on being responsible. When you are worrying about chance events messing your plans up, it is hard to focus on your plans. Right? But when you are convinced that all things work together for your good, it is easy to focus on being responsible. Therefore, it is not at all odd. It has been the Calvinistic culture that produced the Protestant work ethic. It has been the Calvinistic culture that promoted science, entrepreneurship, risk management, etc. The history of cultural thought (and there are several secular books even that show this) indicate that the false charge that Calvinism produces passivity is a slanderous and false charge. It's been the exact opposite. The most intensive periods of missions were started by Calvinists. The most pervasive influences in sparking the industrial revolution and free market captalsim have been Calvinistic.

During his days as guest lecturer at Calvin Seminary, R. B. Kuiper once used the following illustration of God's sovereignty and human responsibility: He said, "I liken them to two ropes going through two holes in the ceiling and over a pulley above. If I wish to support myself by them, I must cling to them both. If I cling only to one and not the other, I go down." Now there are problems with this analogy, because it is God's control of all things that enables us to even be responsible. So there is a sense in which God's sovereignty is both ropes. But there is an element of truth in his illustration. If you pull on human responsibility but deny God's sovereignty, you will find eventually that true human responsibility has to be denied. On the other hand, if you pull on the rope of divine sovereignty and deny human responsibility, God will not bless because God will say that this isn't the rope of divine sovereignty at all. Divine sovereignty works through human agency. In that case you are holding onto fatalism, not Providence.

And throughout this book on God's Providence you see that God is controlling every detail, but His people are having to be diligent as well. Since Scripture works through the means of prayer and He guarantees that we will have not if we ask not, they pray and fast. Because kings aren't ordinarily convinced of anything by God giving them a dream, Esther needs to talk to the king. Because governments are ministers of God, we need to make use of governments to do what Scripture has authorized governments to do.

The point is, we need to apply this in our own lives. If you are looking for a job, look. Don't wait for God to plop a job in your lap. It is a denial of divine sovereignty to fail to go out with expectation. It is also a denial of divine sovereignty to fail to go out. Hold on to both sides of the rope. Your children won't automatically turn out right if you pray to God. James tells us that faith without action is dead faith. We need to work hard at training our children. And it is precisely the act of working hard that shows that we really do believe that God is in such control that He can indeed bless our efforts. Does that make sense? Action always flows out of a right understanding of Providence.

Know that you can't manipulate life or fight against providence, but you can profit by aligning yourself with providence.

A second lesson is that if God controls all of life by His Providence, we might as well give up trying to manipulate life. That's not the right kind of action. In this book we see Esther seeking to align herself with God's purposes rather than striving with God or trying to manipulate Providence. And we can violate this in two ways. One way is by trying to invent the future with your planning. I think most church plans are attempts to invent the future – by the end of the year we will have so many converts, etc. – like they can convert anybody. Rather, our planning should be seeking to be sensitive to God's providence and aligning ourselves to the best of our ability with God's purposes and His working. What does God want our church to do?

But a related error is to seek to manipulate life and when we can't to get frustrated or to deny the truth of Romans 8:28. When I think of a person who was constantly trying to manipulate life, I think of Jacob. It took him many years to get this lesson. God had already told Jacob that He would bless and prosper him, but Jacob had a hard time trusting God. Laban his father-in-law had cheated him several times out of his wages, and God turned things around so that it still favored Jacob. But Jacob never seemed to learn that it was God doing it. He was always trying to manipulate the situation. For example, when Laban would say that Jacob could have the speckled and spotted goats for his wages, Jacob would make spotted and striped sticks that he would hold in front of the sheep when they would mate, and he thought this would make the offspring all spotted. He didn't understand genetics. He thought these sticks were making a difference. He worked his tail off trying to manipulate life and failed to realize it was God doing it entirely apart from his manipulations. He could have relaxed a bit more.

Even during the famine later on in his life, God is beautifully and wonderfully providing for Jacob, but he can't see Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good to those who love God. Here's what Jacob says in Genesis 42:36: "all these things are against me." In hindsight we can see that all these things were actually working together for his good to move them to Goshen and reunite him with his son and preserve their lives. And those two things tend to go hand in hand. When you try to manipulate life you will tend to get frustrated with life and lack the comfort you could have gained from providence. While Joseph was able to enjoy God's Providence and trust it, Jacob was constantly struggling against God's Providence.

What about you? If life frustrates you, it is not an attitude against life in general. It is an attitude against God's hard providences. I would highly, highly recommend that you read Thomas Boston's small essay, "The Crook in the Lot.' He was a Puritan writer who marvelously showed how we can best profit from our afflictions. His book takes off from Ecclesiastes 7:13 which says, "Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked"?" If you want a modern translation of it, Curtis Crenshaw updated the English and published it under the title of Profiting from God's Afflictions.

This frees us up to doing the best job that we can without feeling like we have to manipulate or control life – Example: how to appeal to authority (vv. 4-6)

When we have learned the lesson of trusting God to control all things rather than emotionally feeling like we have to control circumstances and life, it frees us up to focus on doing our job to the best of our ability. This is point C. Too many people take God's job upon their shoulders and end up not doing their own jobs well. For example, only God can change our spouses heart, or our friends heart, but how many of us are intent on doing God's job and end up frustrated. Let God do providence. God has called us to serve within the comfort of knowing that He is working all things together for your good. If our focus is not on others and what they are doing wrong (which only God can change), we can concentrate on working on ourselves and what we are doing wrong. And that's where it should be.

And I think we have a great example of this in the prudence Esther uses in her speech. This is a great example of how to disagree with authority in an agreeable fashion without trying to manipulate life.

In fact, what I want to do is make this a separate application to how we should appeal to authority. I think too many of us violate the Scripture in how we contradict authorities in our lives, whther those authorities are parents, bosses, husbands, church or state officials.

The first thing that Esther does is that she lets the king know that whatever his decision, she is willing to submit to it. She will be giving an appeal to a bad decision that he has made, but she does it without in any way showing rebellion. She says, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king," If children would approach parents in this way, the parents might be much more easily convinced that what they have done is wrong. If wives would say, "Honey, I am quite content to submit to your decision, but can I give you five reasons why I think that a different decision might be economically more beneficial?" it will be much more easily received than if you say, "That's a dumb decision. Look at the ridiculous consequences that you overlooked." And while this is true of appealing to authority, it really applies in all of our relationships with each other. Common courtesy would go a long way toward making our speech heard rather than rebelled against.

Next she gives a synopsis of the problem: "let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request." She is explaining the repercussions of his decisions – something that the king himself was not aware of. The king had no idea that his decree had hurt her. But notice that she doesn't phrase it in an accusatory way. She is using prudence to make a presentation that might be more likely received well. She doesn't beat around the bush. She gets straight to the point, but she doesn't intimidate.

Next, she couches her terms in a way that is not a frontal attack. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that he is responsible for this decree and he has loused up, but she doesn't say it in so many words. "For we have been sold, my people and I," [whose the one who sold them to Haman? It's the king. But she puts it in the passive tense to make it more palatable. "For we have been sold, my people and I"] "to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated." The NIV Application Commentary says, "… by using the passive voice, she delays mentioning Haman's name or the fact that it was the king himself who sold the Jewish people for ten thousand talents of silver… This oblique tactic is not unlike that used by Nathan the prophet when confronting David with his sin in 2 Samuel 12. Nathan circumvented David's defence mechanism by first arousing David's indignation and his resolve to see justice done before revealing that David himself was the evil man. The same tactic works for Esther…" (p. 164). She let's him draw that conclusion.

But Esther does not play the Holy Spirit in his life. She even allows him off the hook to a degree by implying that he may have been deceived by Haman. And I am convinced that the king was deceived because in the previous chapter he doesn't have the foggiest notion that Mordecai the Jew was in any danger. I want you to notice something in verse 4 that is picked up by a couple of scholars, 1 but would be missed in the English. Both Sandra Beth Berg and the course syllabus on Esther for the Far Eastern Bible College point out that the Hebrew word used by Haman in chapter 3:9 for "destroyed," is a homonym [homonym's mean "sound the same" – is a homonym] for "servitude." Here are the two words on the overhead:

dbo dba

ahvad ahvad

(sold as slaves) (be destroyed)

Hebrew is read from right to left. This word is pronounced ahvad and this word is pronounced ahvad. And on each of the two words, the first letter is silent. But it is a totally different letter and makes for a totally different word – in writing. But when it is spoken, only the context can determine whether it means sold or destroyed. Sandra Beth Berg very convincing argues that Haman had deceived the king into thinking that he was only selling this people into slavery. This can be deduced from six facts in the story: first, the two words sound identical. Second, Haman offered to pay 10,000 talents of silver for the Jews, implying that he was buying them. Third, we already know from chapter 6 that the king does not know the wording of the decree that Haman had sent out. Fourth, Esther quotes the exact wording of the decree (the Jews destruction), and contrasts it with what the king thought he had authorized (the Jews servitude "if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen"). Fifth, Berg argues, "If only the sale of Jews into slavery were at issue, Esther would have remained silent because such treatment appeared to be the king's own wishes. However she cannot remain silent because destruction was not what the king wished for, and her loyalty to the king makes her reveal this to him. And then finally, support for this suggested interpretation is found in the king's reply: "Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?" This indicates the king's ignorance of the planned destruction of the Jews. If Berg is correct, and the Hebrew makes perfect sense on her interpretation, then Esther is assuming the best about the king.

And it is always a good strategy to assume the best about the one that you are disagreeing with. If you are wrong in making that assumption and they are indeed guilty they may admit that they were in the wrong without your bringing it up. If you are right, you have not needlessly insulted them. When we get into disagreements we tend to assume the worst rather than assuming the best. I fell into this sin yesterday with a child and had to repent of it. But if we want to be effective, we need to take away obstacles to effectiveness, and assuming the worst is a huge obstacle to good communication.

Trust God's providence, yes. But use prudence in your conversations and in all your dealings.

Belief in Providence makes us trust the help of others rather than depending upon ourselves alone (v. 9)

The fourth application is that a belief in providence is not at all inconsistent with a dependence upon the actions of other people. Mordecai asked for Esther's help, and Esther asked for Mordecai's help. Both asked the king's help. And now Harbonah gives aid by offering his two bits.

Expect divine opportunities and immediately take advantage of them (v. 9)

And lastly, while it is appropriate to wait for Providential openings (like Harbonah had been waiting), don't fail to take advantage of divine opportunities when they are plopped in your lap. Too many times we realize the Lord's provision of a divine contact or opportunity to witness only after the fact. And we kick ourselves. How do we avoid that? If God's Providence is uppermost in your mind, you are going to constantly have your eyes pealed for financial, spiritual, educational or other opportunities that God casts into our laps. On the other hand, you aren't going to even bother looking for opportunities of God's making if you don't believe in Providence. But Reformed people of all people ought to be ready to jump on a job opportunity that comes up, or an opportunity to speak God's law into society. Expect God to work, and lay hold of His working. Use both sides of the rope and you will prosper. Amen.


  1. Sandra Beth Berg, ::asin|0891302794|the Book of Esther: Motifs, Themes and Structure:: (Montana: Scholars Pres, 1979); Far *Eastern Bible College Course on the book of Esther, p. 71.

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