Wrapping up the book of Esther this morning. And so much to chew on. Beyond the mystery of a story in which God is so at work, yet never mentioned, there are so many different aspects of the story to ponder. Is Mordecai a picture of Christ? If so, in what ways? How about Esther? A picture of the church, the bride of Christ? Or, of Christ Himself, as an agent of mediating salvation? Or both? What of this story should be considered normative? And the list can go on.
But the aroma which lingers as I meditate on the story this morning is that of unmerited favor and the power of grace.
In my ESV I noted the use of the words grace or favor nine times. Grace used once, favor eight times. The Hebrew word cheded used twice and chen used six times. Twice, the favor Esther was shown was more akin to “kindness.” But the rest of the time she was “well-favored” and shown grace.
When she was made ready for her meeting with the king, Esther was marked as someone who “obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her” (2:15). Though a nobody from nowhere with nothing but a natural beauty, she was marked early on as a target for unmerited favor.
And then, after she had spent her designated time with the king, Esther “obtained grace and favor in his sight” (2:17). Chen and cheded. Unearned acceptance in addition to unexpected kindness.
Later, it would be the king’s favor she had to rely upon when she approached him unannounced (5:2). The grace of his golden scepter extended to her as she stood at the doorway provided the access she needed to mediate on behalf of her people. And it was on the basis of unmerited favor that Esther appealed to the king to bring Haman to a banquet she desired to host for them (5:8). They were both very busy and much-in-demand men, she would not presume on their presence. That she should warrant any of their time would solely result from the king’s gracious desire to spend time with her.
Finally, on the basis of unmerited favor, Esther pleaded for her life, and the life of her people, before the king (7:3, 8:5). Not that she had earned any right to be spared. But, as a recipient of grace, she accepted that place of unmerited favor and interceded on behalf of herself and others.
While Esther is a story of the power of the unseen hand of God, it is also a record of the power of grace. Of what a person can do when enveloped in unmerited favor. And in that, isn’t it also then a picture of the power that is the child of God’s as a trophy of His grace?
Our confidence not lying in our lineage. Our strength not found in what we bring to the table. Our access granted not because of our worth or works but solely by the King’s desire to have us boldly approach His throne?
And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
(Esther 5:2 ESV)
That’s the power of grace, to approach. To draw near. With confidence, not in ourselves but in His love, and petition. With surety, not because of what we have done but because of what Christ has accomplished, and pray. Without fear of man, proclaiming and praising our King, not because of who we are but standing only on the foundation of who He is.
A great story. A lot to chew on.
Encouraged this morning by the power of grace. To God be the glory.