Esther 7

Esther 7:1-3

7:1 So the king and Haman went to dine [Esther used a banquet as the setting in which to tell the king of Haman’s plan to destroy her people] with Queen Esther,

7:2 and as they were drinking wine on that second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom [an indication of how much the king loved Esther], it will be granted.”

7:3 Then Queen Esther answered [Esther did not hesitate any longer but seized the moment], “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request [Esther explained to the king that Haman had targeted her people for annihilation].

Note: Paul wrote of redeeming the time (Gr. “kairos”) in Ephesians 5:16. The Greeks had two words for time. Chronos refers to ongoing time (clock and calendar kind of time). Kairos refers to seizing opportunities or special moments.

Esther 4

Esther 4:13-17
4:13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.

4:14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place [a reminder that no one is indispensable to God’s purpose and kingdom], but you and your father’s family will perish [because of Haman’s plot]. And who knows but that you [a Jewish orphan who had become queen of Persia at a time when her people faced annihilation] have come to royal position [election is for service and not merely for one’s own benefit] for such a time as this [Esther was the key in God’s plan to save the Jews from Haman’s evil scheme]?”

4:15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:

4:16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days [this would allow them to focus their attention on their prayers for Esther and her success when she went into the king’s presence], night or day. I and my maids will fast [a way of expressing deep grief] as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish [illustrates Esther’s commitment to follow-through regardless of what happened to her].”

4:17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions [re: organizing the fast].

Esther 3

Esther 3:5-6

3:5 When Haman [an Amalekite (longtime enemies of Israel that started when Israel fought with them in the wilderness; cf. Ex. 17:8-16; Deut. 25:17-19); promoted to second highest rank in Ahasuerus’ kingdom] saw that Mordecai would not kneel down [when he passed by] or pay him honor [as commanded by the king (cf. 3:2); Mordecai refused to bow before anyone other than God], he was enraged.

3:6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people [the Jews] were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy [genocide] all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes [same person as Ahasuerus; reigned from 486-464 BC; son of Darius the Great and grandson of Cyrus the Great].

Esther 2

Esther 2:7
2:7 Mordecai [a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin who lived in Susa, the winter location for the Persian King Ahasuerus’ palace; Mordecai exiled in Persia] had a cousin named Hadassah [name means “myrtle”], whom he had brought up [Mordecai was her legal guardian] because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther [name means “star”], was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

Esther 2:17
2:17 Now the king was attracted to Esther [underwent a beauty treatment along with the other virgins (cf. 2:3,9,12)] more than to any of the other women [the virgins who appeared before him in his search for a new queen], and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti [removed as queen because she refused to display her physical beauty before her husband’s drunken dinner guests (cf. 1:12)].

Introduction to Song of Songs

We live in a culture that needs clear answers about the relationship between love and sex. Song of Songs answers questions about the limits and joys of appropriately expressing human love.

Contents — Song of Songs is a collection of love songs or poems that tastefully portray the genuine love between a man and a woman in marriage. Some scholars see the book as a picture of Christ’s love for the church.

Purpose — The book describes love between a man and a woman as God intended it to be.

Themes — The book celebrates the beauty of sexual love and emphasizes the importance of a man and woman finding mutual satisfaction exclusively in the marriage relationship.

Writer and Date — The authorship of the book is traditionally ascribed to Solomon, whose name appears several times in the book, and was probably written in the tenth century BC.

Introduction to Ecclesiastes

As a result of feverishly pursuing the things that make life pleasurable and comfortable, many people are left feeling dry and thirsting for something more. Ecclesiastes maps the routes that Solomon explored while searching for the meaning of life under the sun. Ecclesiastes can help us to chart a course past dead-end routes to the source of life’s true meaning.

Contents — Ecclesiastes examines and questions a variety of efforts to find fulfillment in life apart from God. The book cautions against searching for life’s meaning in the accumulation of things, in the pursuit of human wisdom, and in pleasurable experiences. The book concludes with the practical instruction to trust and obey God.

Purpose — Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s candid journal of his experiments with various pleasures, possessions, power, and knowledge in an effort to find the meaning of life under the sun. When he summed up the total of his findings, Solomon concluded that life apart from God had no meaning.

Themes — The theme of Ecclesiastes appears in the prologue, “Everything is futile” (1:2), and moves toward the conclusion in the epilogue, “Fear God and keep His commands” (12:13). The discourses between these verses lead to the conclusion that life’s ultimate meaning is not found under the sun (where “everything is futile”), but above or beyond the sun (in God).

Writer and Date — The absence of the writer’s name in Ecclesiastes has led scholars to debate its authorship. Assuming, however, that Solomon was the author, Ecclesiastes was written in the tenth century B.C.

Introduction to Job

People take all kinds of measures to build hedges around their lives to keep suffering and pain at bay. And yet, often without warning, suffering and pain intrude—and life is never the same again. Their arrival prompts a search for answers to renew hope and strengthen resolve to go on. The book of Job offers wisdom to navigate the dark and perplexing territory of human suffering and pain.

Contents — The first two chapters present the problem of evil and describe Satan’s assault on Job. Chapters three to thirty-seven contain three cycles of speeches in which Job’s friends misrepresented God by claiming to know why Job was suffering and by thinking that they knew why and how God does what He does. The final chapters present Job’s humbling encounter with God and the restoration of his fortunes.

Purpose — The book explores the mystery of human suffering and the question of divine justice. The Bible teaches that no one sins with impunity and that trust and obedience to God are rewarded. Job, however, does not fit neatly into that pattern. A pious and upright man, Job was buffeted by waves of indescribable suffering. His friends erroneously concluded that he was being punished for some terrible sin. The book challenges the notion that all suffering is caused by sin and suggests that God may have other purposes for suffering.

Themes — The opening chapters introduce the theme of why one serves God. Satan contended that people like Job serve God because of God’s blessings and not because of God Himself. The theme of undeserved and unexplained suffering is introduced when God allowed Satan to unleash his fury against Job and his family. The book also explores the theme of God’s sovereignty.

Writer and Date — The Scripture does not supply the answer to the authorship of Job. Although the book offers few indications of its date, some scholars believe it was written either prior to or in the days of the patriarchs because of the absence of any clear reference to any known historical event.