I’m always surprised when I find someone who has never seen The Princess Bride. I’m almost embarrassed for them. And I always feel a certain responsibility to make sure they remedy this oversight in their lives. Why? Because The Princess Bride is a perfect story—one where nothing is wasted. It has everything: pirates, sword fighting, giants, power struggles, true love, and rodents of unusual size. Everything.
I don’t know if you know this or not, but the Old Testament book of Esther is also a perfect story. It, too, has everything. A proud king. A defiant queen. An assassination plot. An ambitious, venomous second-in-command. And a seventy-five foot tall gallows going up in the heart of town, built especially for the sage-like guardian of the beautiful orphan girl who would become queen of the land. The book of Esther tells quite a tale.
This historical book tells the story of a king and a kingdom. On its surface, we see a kingdom of this world as we read about Ahasuerus and his rule over Persia. But the true story runs much deeper and higher. Even though God is not mentioned by name in this book, He is the supreme king and hero of this story. His providential hand leads His people from certain destruction to the kind of safety found only in being the object of a king’s affection.
Today’s reading sets the stage by casting an ominous shadow over a seemingly happy time of feasting and abundance. The king throws a party meant to last for 180 days, but when he summons his queen so that he might show off her beauty to his guests, she refuses to come to him. The queen’s refusal to obey her king reverberates throughout the kingdom and the old saying, “As it goes for the king, so it goes for the kingdom,” comes into play. The king’s embarrassment becomes a moment of weakness the power-hungry seek to exploit, kicking the rest of the story into motion.
As you read Esther, enjoy the twists and turns. Appreciate the irony laced throughout. Feel the fear and trembling Mordecai, Esther, and their people must have known as Haman’s gallows took shape. The story itself deserves our appreciation for its complexity, drama, romance, and outcome.
But remember that a story like this points to an even bigger truth. The Apostle Paul describes this truth as God’s ability to use what is seemingly insignificant and despised in the world to shame that which the world exalts over God (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
The book of Esther is a double-edged sword. It is a rebuke to those who are tempted to scheme and plot their way to greatness. But it is also a story of reassurance that no matter how powerful the schemes of man may appear, God can topple them in a moment with ease. May that sword cut you both ways for the glory of God.
Written by Russ Ramsey