If you haven’t already done so, you should definitely check out the Bible Project summery for the book of Esther.
The story of Esther is, let’s face it, crazy. As we step in to chapter 7, it’s time for the big reveal. (Drumroll) Esther is Jewish! Because of this, the wicked Haman has been plotting to have her people, the Jews, killed. You can imagine the color fading from Haman’s face learning that he’s trying to persecute the queen.
The queen was so beloved by the king, Haman knew his fate was sealed. His only recourse was to beg for his life. The king then left, perhaps, to figure out his next move.
What happens next may not make a whole lot of sense to modern audiences (i.e. why was the queen laying down on a couch in front of Haman?). In ancient Persia, as in much of the ancient world, people would recline to eat. The feast they were enjoying was meant to take some time and it was likely that everybody was a little blitzed from too much wine. As the king returned, it may have been that in begging for his life, Haman drunkenly stumbled and fell on Esther’s couch. We can safely assume that with all the attendants, and servants coming and going, no assault was going to take place. However, the king saw Haman splayed out, and with all the rational decision-making power of one so sloshed, he thought Haman was trying to do something terrible.
The ever-helpful Harbona stepped in to inform the king of the giant spike, fifty cubits high, on which Haman was going to impale Mordecai before he was honored in chapter 6. Thus, although several English Bible’s read hanged, Haman was impaled on a giant spike that he intended for the Jew, Mordecai.
Any time we study the Bible, we must ask, “Am I being told what happened (descriptive) and am I being told what to do (prescriptive)?” Deciding whether a text is descriptive or prescriptive can save you from a lot of error in applying the Bible to your life. This story is definitely NOT prescriptive. There is nothing here that you should imitate. This story is simply telling us what happened.
So, what did happen? God kept his promise and he used Esther and Mordecai to do it. Esther was extremely brave (I’m not trying to undermine the grit it took to approach the king the way she did), but the story isn’t so much about her. It’s about how God can do impossible things with improbable people.
Hopefully, in your own life, you’ve not conformed to the culture so much that when you tell people you’re a Christian it would require a drumroll. Instead, when a person finds out, they simply say, “Oh, that figures.” God calls us to be a peculiar people. And although we all still struggle with sin, He wants to do the impossible through you. His verbal silence in the book of Esther should incline our hearts to understand that God is all but silent in our lives. He is constantly at work using improbable people to do impossible things.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate