Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Esther 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-17

Chapter 4

When Mordecai perceived all that was done, he tore his clothes, he put on sackcloth with ashes, and he went out into the midst of the city, and he cried with a loud and bitter cry; And he even came before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate who was clothed with sackcloth. And in every province, wherever the king's decree had come, there was a great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing: and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. So Esther's maid and her chamberlains came and they told her. And the queen was exceedingly grieved; and she sent clothes to Mordecai, and she said, Take off that sackcloth: but he received it not. Then Esther called for Hatach, one of the king's chamberlains, who was appointed to attend her, and she gave him a commandment to go out and find out from Mordecai just what was going on. So Hatach went forth to Mordecai out in the streets. And Mordecai told him all that had happened unto him, the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay the king's treasury for the Jews, to destroy them. Also he gave him a copy of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to show it to Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, and make supplication unto him, and to make a request before him for her people. So Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. And again Esther spoke to Hatach and said, Go out and tell Mordecai; All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who has not been called, there is one law and that is to be put to death, except such as to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live: but I have not been called to come into the king for thirty days. And so they went out and told Mordecai Esther's words ( Esther 3:1-12 ).

So Esther hears of the cousin of hers and his wailing and lying out there in sackcloth and ashes, and so she says, "What's wrong?" and he sends back one of the copies of the decrees that has gone out and suggests that Esther go in to her husband. Now can you imagine that kind of a husband and wife relationship? He hadn't called for her for thirty days, and if she just appears on the scene she's put to death, unless he would raise the golden scepter towards her and then she is spared. Quite a weird kind of a relationship, to say the truth. And so she was hesitant to go in.

And then Mordecai sent to her this message, Don't think within yourself that you're going to escape because you're in the king's house, more than all of the Jews. For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father's house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this? ( Esther 4:13-14 )

Number one, don't think that just because you are in the palace you're going to escape the king's edict. You are a Jew; it'll reach you there. Also, if you fail... here God is giving you the opportunity of being the instrument of saving the people. And if you fail, God will use someone else, but you will be destroyed. You and your father's house will perish. God will bring deliverance. God's purposes are going to stand. God has to keep the Jews alive through whatever persecution and all they may go through. God has to preserve them. God will preserve them. Their enlargement and deliverance then will arise from another quarter, but you are going to be destroyed with your family. And who knows? Maybe God has brought you to the kingdom for such a time as this.

All of these circumstances are not just coincidences. So often I hear people say, "You know, the strangest coincidence happened to me." But coincidences really don't exist in the Christian vocabulary. God has His hand upon our lives and He has a plan and a purpose for each thing that takes place. And many times what we look upon as great tragedies are really methods by which God is bringing certain things to us.

I look back on my own life and I can see how that the hand of God has been upon my life from the beginning. Now, I must confess there were many times in my life that I thought I was pretty well forsaken by God. I thought that God had forgotten me completely. I was certain that God wasn't interested in me or my welfare. And I have had some very discouraging experiences. Difficult times. I've gone through a lot of hardships. And yet, as I look back on them now, I can see that God was using each one of those experiences for a definite plan and a purpose, as He was preparing me and as He was leading my path into that which He had in mind for me from the beginning. And that all of those disappointing experiences, all of those years of struggle in the ministry, all the years of hardship, all the years of just skimping to get by, trying to survive, were all a part of God's plan to prepare me for the work He had in mind for me to do.

Number one, He allowed me seventeen years of failure in the ministry to thoroughly condition my mind to the fact that I could do nothing. So that when God did begin to work, I wouldn't try to take credit for what God was doing. And after seventeen years of my best efforts, my best years, young, innovative, energetic, dark wavy hair, God let it all go! Let me get over the hill! And then He began to work. So that I am wise enough to recognize the difference between my work and God's work. And I can look back at the seventeen years of ministry and show you my work, my best work, and it ended in failure. And I can look now at God's work and stand with the next guy just overwhelmed and amazed at what God can do.

But it was all necessary, because I had a lot of self confidence. I had a lot of ideas, I had a lot of innovations, and God had to let me sort of waste them in seventeen years of trying until I gave up. And now it's so beautiful. Because it's God's work, and I don't have to worry about it. I don't have to stay awake nights and pound the pillow and plan, and "What are we going to do? And how are we going to do it?" and all. It's God's work. It's the Lord's church. But it took me a long time to come to that. So, all the way, through all of these things God was working. Putting me in this place to meet these people. Moving me here to meet these people. All the way along, God was guiding and directing, though at times I thought that I was forsaken by God. Yet, God was working things out.

The first time I went to Corona to pastor, we had just two children when we first went there, and we had sixteen people in church. I gave it two of my best years. Working hard, knocking on doors, doing everything I could, and after two years we had seventeen people in church (our son Jeff was born during that period of time). Oh, that was a hard place in the ministry! And I really felt rejected by God. I ended up there resigning from the ministry. And then a gracious bishop talked me into trying again. But God's hand was in it. You see, while I was there I met people. Though they never did come to my church, I met people who later on became a very important part of my being freed from denominational ties. For people that I met while I was there who never did attend my church while I pastored there, years later when I had got discouraged and just quit the ministry again, they said, "Why don't you come out and start a Bible class in our home in Corona?"

And so I went out and started a Bible class in their home, which grew into a church. And I began to see God work. But, you see, had I not spent the two bitter years there and met these people I might still...why, I'm sure I wouldn't be in the ministry today. Because I had had it. But God's hand, I can see it all the way along. And He was working, even as God is working in your life, and you may tonight feel like, "Oh, how could God be in this mess?" But yet, God is working out His purpose. And who knows but what God hasn't brought you into the kingdom, and that just right around the corner you're going to begin to see God's work after all of your futile efforts and all your struggles, when you finally turn it over to God. You give God a chance to work. You see, that was my problem. I was so stubborn. I was going to do it. I knew I could do it. And I kept trying. And I didn't turn it over to God for years. But oh, what a joy now that I've finally learned to turn it over to God. And if you'll just learn to turn it over, you can find God's work in a very special way. Who knows, who knows what God wants to do? Who knows what God has in mind for you? Who knows the plans of God for your life?

So Esther said,

Gather together all of the Jews in the city, fast and pray for me, and I will go in unto the king: and if I perish, I perish ( Esther 4:16 ).

That's a commitment. That's a complete commitment. That's the kind of commitment that God wants from your life. "Lord, all the way. If I perish, I perish. But Lord, I'll do it. I'll go for it."

And so Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him ( Esther 4:17 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Esther 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/esther-4.html. 2014.
Ads FreeProfile