Esther 7:1-6

So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. Esther 7:1-6

Every middle school kid needs to know the story of Esther. It’s got it all – political intrigue, good guys vs. bad guys, romance, and revenge. Esther is one of the great heroes of the Bible. Smart, beautiful, and cagey. And the good guys win in the end.

I have a friend who regularly tells me that one of the things that he despises about the church is all the “politics” in it. Each time he says it, I come back with something along the lines of “politics is what you get when people try to figure out how to do life together”. We’re both right.

The story of Esther is really a study of power. The king has institutional power and coercive power. The king can pretty much do – and he does – anything he wants. Haman, an evil-minded advisor to the king, has positional power. He is an insider and he uses his access to the king to manipulate the king into doing unnecessary evil. Mordecai, Esther’s relative, exercises the power of civil disobedience. He stands up for what he believes when he refuses to stand up in respect to Mordecai.   And Esther has the kind of power we confer on to others because of their personal attributes. She is handpicked by the king because of her beauty and grace.

Watching the story play out, we see how these various kinds of power get played out. In the end, the king is merely a pawn, Haman is hung on his own gallows, and Esther lives on as a hero of the faith. Every year (this year it was on March 15-16), Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim to remember her story.

One interesting tidbit about Esther is that this is one book (like Ecclesiastes) which people have said doesn’t belong in the Bible. There isn’t much mention of God in it. Give this one to the Holy Spirit for Esther certainly belongs in the Bible. My friend is right, there are politics all over the work of the church just as there is politics everywhere in life. Esther reminds us that power, of all kinds, can be used for good or evil.

May we use our power for good.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, the story of Esther has so much to teach us about our dark sides, about how we use and abuse power, about the evil that people do to one another. And yet it also teaches us about how the ends participate in the means, encouraging us with the hope that good triumphs in the end. May we stand on the side of the good, or refuse to stand when to do so would justify evil. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Esther 7:1-6”

  1. Steve Leeman Says:

    As Bob Dylan so aptly put it, “The politics of experience, flesh on the bone”. Esther is a savvy politico.

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