ESTHER - Chapter 6-7

As I focus on my own answers for the questions about Esther Chapters 6 & 7, I ask myself - How can I apply these questions to myself?  Do I often assume praise/recognition is just for me and not someone else? How do I react to praise and reward?  Am I brave enough to take a stand like Esther?  Do I feel those who have hurt me should be punished?  Throughout this blog, let’s answer these questions while also thinking about how we can apply the responses to our own lives.

Question 1: We all have had moments where we wish things had worked in our favour.  Perhaps someone else got a job you had high hopes about getting or maybe a friend or colleague has received a higher reward/ more praise for something you have also done well in.  It can be discouraging when we feel we are not being recognised for our work and talents.  When we begin reading Chapter 6, Haman is not happy simply because Mordecai has shown no fear towards him.  Despite receiving so much attention and honour from the King, he is still dissatisfied.  He has set out a plan to get rid of Mordecai and to ensure everyone in the kingdom will worship him.  However, before Haman can act on his plan, the King asks him “what should be done for the man the king delights to honour?”  Rather than consider anyone else for this honour, Haman believes the King is talking about him.  We know that the King really means for Mordecai to be recognized, but how many times have we found ourselves thinking ‘It should have been me?  I deserved that just as much as she/ he did.’
The first thought that comes to my mind when I read this part of Chapter 6 is, was Haman worthy of this honour in the King’s eyes?  The King had already honoured and elevated him above all the other nobles, he had vast amounts of money, many sons and was the only person invited to Queen Esther’s banquet with the King.  So surely, Haman had already received enough praise and honour.  It got me thinking… do we sometimes think we deserve more even when we’ve already been given a significant amount? Over the last year or so, I have learnt to be content with the simple things.  What has been most pleasing about this is if God is the only one who sees and knows how deserving I am of something, then that is more than enough.  We all appreciate being recognised and praised - some people are shy and don’t like having the attention on them while others love having all eyes on them but either way, everyone appreciates being acknowledged.  It can be difficult if you share an idea with somebody and they make it out to be their own or if you’ve worked extra hard behind the scenes, yet no one seems to appreciate your efforts. Take heart in knowing that God sees all things and He knows how much or how little each person does. Matthew 6:4 tells us, “…Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”.  God does not want us to crave public recognition as Haman did.  Instead, God has promised to reward us in Heaven for our deeds that have been quietly recognised on earth.  Next time you feel that you have not been given enough praise, remember that while earthly praise is encouraging, Heavenly praise by Our Saviour is far more worthy.

Questions 2&3: When I read about Mordecai, he strikes me as a man who does not see himself as better than anyone else.  He wants to get on with his day, ensure Esther is ok and stand up and take action when human pride was resulting in injustice.  So, I wonder what his thoughts were when he was given this grand praise from the King.  He was dressed in a royal robe and paraded through the city’s streets on horse back.  We all know at least one person who hates being in the spotlight - they do not thrive on attention.  This is how I view Mordecai, he did not crave the King’s attention yet that is exactly what he got by simply being himself.  When he heard of evil plans he notified Queen Esther, who reported it to the King.  Doing the right thing was a part of Mordecai’s personality which then led him to receive an honour that was truly deserved.  But what about after Mordecai was honoured?  Instead of thinking he was more important than his friends and neighbours, he returned to the King’s gates - to keep watch over Esther.  Even after being honoured by the King, Mordecai’s personality and opinion of himself did not change.

We all have our preferred ways of receiving gratitude - we either like to be publicly or quietly honoured. There is nothing wrong with either way but it is important that we do not let our honour go to our heads.  We must remember that all praise and honour must go to our Heavenly Father who has given us the abilities to be who we are.  Mordecai’s personality earned him recognition from the King and he did not let his reward change him.  We must remember that when we are our true, authentic selves we will receive honour that is deserving but we must also not let earthly praise change the person God has created us to be.

Question 4: When I think of Esther the first word that comes to mind is ‘bravery’.  Esther’s story is all about being brave and taking a stand for her people.  In Chapter 7, Esther finally tells the King the truth about Haman and his evil plans for the Jews.  Even though Esther is being held in a higher regard by the King and he has stated “What is your petition? What is your request?”, I’m sure it was still very daunting for Esther, knowing she was about to tell the King that the man he had promoted above all other officials, his right hand man, was planning to kill all the Jews including Mordecai and herself.  Imagine telling someone that their best friend or go-to-person was not who they thought they were.  My thoughts would be “They won’t believe me. They will trust them more than me.”  These thoughts probably crossed Esther’s mind too but she probably remembered Mordecai’s words more, “Perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this”.  We can learn so much from Esther’s character but one thing we can take from this passage is that sometimes we have to take a stand even if we feel like we will not win.  It can be difficult speaking out about problematic situations, but not speaking up can also cause distress as we begin to overthink if we should have dealt with the problem instead of saying nothing.  Esther had Mordecai to confide in and he encouraged her to do the right thing, for her own safety as much as anyone else’s.  Next time you find yourself unsure of what to do, why not chat to a friend or person you trust and whose opinion you value.  Most importantly, talk to God more than anyone else, He sees all things and knows the future therefore He gives the greatest and most valuable guidance.

Question 5: And now our final question; Haman’s punishment - was it too harsh or just right? Considering he had planned to kill all the Jews just because one of them refused to worship him, it would seem losing his own life was the appropriate punishment.  But could there have been another way that really made Haman face the consequences for his actions?  Maybe losing his official titles or becoming a servant for Mordecai?  I’m sure Haman would have regretted his plans if he had had to show respect to and serve the people he had tried to kill.  When I think about my answer for this question, I begin to think do I expect harsh punishments for those who have hurt me?  I’ve never wished anybody dead but it does sadden me when I see those who caused me hurt and upset getting on with their lives with zero consequences.  I take note that Haman’s punishment was delivered by the King, not Mordecai or Queen Esther.  Neither of them had to deal with Haman, the King ensured he was punished.  This reminds me that none of us control the world – only God does, and remember He sees and knows all things.  Therefore, it is God who will deal with those who do us wrong.  As Christians we must show love towards everyone, especially those who are difficult to love.  Because of this it is not appropriate to also wish punishment on others, but as Christians we know that God will provide everyone with either an honour or a punishment – depending on our own actions.

Taking all of these thoughts into account, we must remember to always turn to God and not just depend on ourselves.  We must ask God to make us humble, help us not to crave earthly things, to give us courage when we need it most and to help us hand over all our troubles to Him.

“I look up to the mountains- does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!... The Lord himself watches over you!” – Psalm 121:1-2 & 5.

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