Welcome to week three of Esther Illustrated! In the past two weeks, we have reflected on the two queens and two schemes of the early chapters of Esther. Today, we reflect on the two banquets, as we reach the climax of the story.
Read: Esther 5:1-7:10
Focus on: Esther 7:2-4
“And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your wish, 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 found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated.’”
There is so much we can learn from these chapters about timing and redemption. What we see on the ground level of Esther is a series of human choices — some bad, some good. King Ahasuerus hosts a feast; Vashti refuses her husband; Mordecai saves the king’s life, but refuses to bow to Haman; Haman chooses to kill the Jewish people; Esther decides to step in. But when we scale back a little, looking at the story from higher ground, we can also see the role of fate or the hand of God in affecting and redeeming these choices. Esther is chosen above the other young women; Haman’s pride causes him to fall; Mordecai’s influence over Esther brings her to action; and King Ahasuerus’ sleepless night brings Mordecai to honor. In the end, the human choices and twists of fate bring a young woman to a powerful place, and offer security to her people. This story may seem completely devoid of God to some, but to others, it is clearly painted in the strategic brushstrokes of the Artist, perfectly orchestrated by the Composer. How you see it is up to you.
Keep these images in mind as you journal today. When Esther spoke to the king and laid her fate with that of her people, asking for their freedom, she likely felt afraid and even alone. But our story, while it does not explicitly name God, makes it clear that the deliverance of the Jewish people did not come from Esther or King Ahasuerus, but “from another place” (Esther 4:14). Esther may have felt alone and unsupported as she stood before the king, but she was not. God was within her; she would not fail (Psalm 46:5).
You may choose to illustrate Esther in her moment of vulnerability, guided, held, or supported by the invisible hand of God. You can also show her gathering her bravery before the banquet, preparing for the moment in which she made herself vulnerable to the temper of an unstable king. Or you may decide to letter a phrase or verse that means a lot to you: “deliverance will rise… from another place” (Esther 4:14), “let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request” (Esther 7:3), or even “God is within her, she will not fall” (Psalm 46:5, NIV). Be sure to share your work in the Facebook group when you finish!