Esther: Faith in the Face of Death

Day 3, Week 4 of Beautifully Surrendered, a Love God Greatly Bible Study

Today’s Reading: Esther 4 (SOAP/Focus: verse 16)

“Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”

Esther 4:16 NLT
Esther’s Background

To quote the commentary on Esther from, “Esther is the Jewish maiden who became queen of Persia and rescued her people from a murderous plot to annihilate them.” Esther’s full story, filled with drama, intrigue, and more, is found in the Book of Esther. It is a story worth reading at least once a year, as a reminder of God’s mercy and grace to His people and how He positions and uses the least expected people in the unfolding of His plan. If you aren’t familiar with Esther’s story, or if it’s been a while since you’ve read it, I suggest reading at least the first three chapters prior to chapter 4 so that you can fully appreciate and learn from Esther’s faith and surrender in today’s lesson.

Esther’s family was from the Tribe of Benjamin, one of the 12 sons of Jacob. According to verse six of Esther, chapter 2  her family had been among those who had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.  It’s in that same chapter that we read, “When her father and mother died, Mordecai {Esther’s older cousin] adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter.”

Following a somewhat scandalous event at the palace the King gave the order that the current Queen, Vashti, be forever banished from the presence of King Xerxes, and that the king should choose another queen more worthy than she.

As a result of the King’s decree, Esther (who is described in chapter 2 as both beautiful and lovely), along with many other young women, was brought to the king’s harem at the fortress of Susa and placed in Hegai’s care. Verse 9 of chapter 2 says that Hegai, [the king’s eunuch in charge of the harem], was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.

Important to note is that no one in the palace knew about Esther’s nationality and family background because Mordecai had directed her not to tell anyone.  While some may question Mordecai’s instructions, it is easy to see how God used Esther’s silence about the matter.

Today’s Story

While no one in the palace knew Esther’s true identity, she knew and outside the place walls Mordecai knew and thus our story today. God used them both as examples of faith and heroes of His people.

Mordecai, heartbroken and distraught over the pending destruction of the Jews. I’m telling you – you have to read the story to know how Mordecai even knew what was happening. But, what we see here is that he did know and he makes it known to Esther, and instructs her not just to help – but to do so at the risk of her own life. She resists at first, making Mordecai aware that on penalty of death she could not go uninvited into the presence of the King. Mordecai responds with perhaps one of my favorite passage in the book of Esther:

Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”

Esther 4:13-16

Mordecai didn’t walk away throwing up his hands – with an ‘I’ve done everything I can do’ attitude; nor did he say he understood Esther’s concern, instead he painted the whole picture for Esther, which, by Esther’s responses, was exactly what she needed to hear. She surrendered to the instructions with one condition or stipulation that she would first fast, in this case, according to commentary, the fast would be associated with seeking God in conjunction with passionate prayer1. She also charged Mordecai and the rest of the Jews to join her in the fast for three nights and days. “Afterward”, she said, “I will go to the king, even though it violates the law.” Surely this is a picture of being beautifully surrendered.


How Then Should We Live?

Esther was living outside of her element. She was taken away from her people to a palace, put on display for the King, given a regimen and diet that were not customary for her. We may think – wow! if only someone would pick me up and place me in a palace, give me maids, and spa treatments – what’s not to love about that- right? Well, obviously whether she was enjoying it or not isn’t the question – perhaps she was – there’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying where God has placed us. However, we must not lose focus of who we are and what we are meant for. In the middle of it all she was reminded by Mordecai of who and whose she was, where she came from, and made to see or at least consider that perhaps her royal status was meant for more than her enjoyment … perhaps it was meant for the salvation of her people. Which is exactly what we know from Scripture – this side of the story.

Mordecai’s faith was evident in that he knew that should Esther pass up the opportunity to speak for her people, God would send freedom and protection for the Jews by some other means. Esther’s faith was evident in not only being willing to “face death” should that be the case but also in putting God first through fasting and prayer and engaging her people to do the same, undoubtedly meaning for all of them to use the time calling out to Him on her behalf.

We would be wise, like Mordecai, to be one who encourages others with the truth rather than encourage or uphold their fears. We would be wise, if like Esther, we pray for and strive for such mindsets of faith that lead us to surrender.

It may very well be that you have achieved royal status for such a time as this!

Esther 4:14b NET
Prayer Response:

Father, how beautiful and challenging is the story of Esther. Beautiful in the fact that regardless of who we are or where we are You can pick us up and place us where You want us to be, so that we are positioned for Your work. The story is equally daunting though, knowing that where you place us may come with greater responsibility than we could have ever imagined or wanted. Help us live as Esther did, turning to You in our fears and willing to surrender – even in the face of death. Help us to stay focused like Mordecai did – keeping You always as our perspective and willing to encourage others with the truth – for Your glory and the salvation of Your people.

Your Turn:

What’s your take away from Esther’s story?

Reflection Questions:

Esther was faced with a hard decision, risk her life or the lives of her people.

  • How do her actions in Esther 4 reveal her strength?
  • What can you learn from her example?
Want More Insight?

Read today’s Love God Greatly Blog Post

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