Devotional Week 41 Tuesday
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence, dignity, and grace was not arrayed like one of these.”
Matthew 6: 28, 29
“When the Queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom and skill, the house he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, the standing at attention of his servants, their apparel, his cupbearers, his ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord for the burnt offerings he sacrificed, she was breathless and overcome. She said to the king, ‘It was a true report I heard in my own land of your acts and sayings and wisdom. I did not believe it until I came and my own eyes had seen. Behold, the half was not told me. You have added wisdom and goodness exceeding the fame I heard.”
1 Kings 10: 4-7
“Flowers! when the Savioiur’s calm benignant eye
Fell on your gentle beauty, when from you
That heavenly lesson for all hearts He drew,
Eternal, universal as the sky;
Then, in the bosom of your purity,
A voice He set, as in a temple-shrine,
That life’s quick travelers never might pass you by
Unwarned of that sweet oracle divine.
And though too oft its low, celestial sound
By the harsh notes of work-day care is drowned,
And the loud steps of vain, unlistening – haste!
Yet the great ocean hath no tone of power
Mightier to reach the soul, in thought’s hushed hour,
Than yours, ye lilies! Chosen thus and graced!”
“Today’s Study Text:
“And the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.”
Esther 5: 2
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“Touching the Sceptre of Providence” Part 34
“Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His Providence.”
Augustine of Hippo
In what ways have I witnessed God’s providential leading in my life?
“But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 19
“You will never need more than God can supply.”
J. I. Packer
“God wishes each of us to work as hard as we can, holding nothing back but giving ourselves to the utmost, and when we can do no more, then is the moment when the hand of Divine Providence is stretched out to us and takes over.”
It had been thirty days since Queen Esther had been called to come before King Ahasuerus. We know this fact because Esther told her cousin Mordecai that, “whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king, into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his (the kings) to put him (or her) to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he (she) may live: I (Esther) have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days” (Esther 4: 11, K.J.V.)
Esther couldn’t have made it any clearer to Mordecai. For thirty long days she had not been invited or called by name or even had a chance encounter as the Hebrew translation tells us, with her husband, King Ahasuerus. This lengthy separation could have made me wonder, if I was in Esther’s shoes, if I had done something to upset the king. Especially since he had been shown to have a very unpredictable disposition. In his commentary on the book of Esther, the great Biblical student Matthew Henry gives us this thoughtful perspective:
“(Esther’s) case was at present very discouraging. Providence so ordered it that, just at this juncture, she was under a cloud, and the king’s affections cooled towards her, for she had been kept from his presence thirty days, that her faith and courage might be the more tried, and that God’s goodness in the favour she now found with the king notwithstanding might shine the brighter.”
When looked at in the light of the fact that the king had seemingly ignored Esther for a month, her courage in coming before the king only highlights the fact that not only was she willingly putting her life on the line for her people but she was also trusting the hand of God to move on her behalf of His chosen children. In her book She Shall Be Called Woman, author Frances Vander Velde’s biographies of Biblical women may be short, but they give a tremendous glimpse into the lives of heroines scattered throughout Scripture. I found her insight on Esther’s life to offer us a picture of how Esther may have felt at the moment she entered the king’s “inner court,” totally against protocol: “Laying aside her garments of sackcloth at the end of three days fast, Esther dressed in royal apparel. Pale but composed after her fasting and prayer, she came to the king ‘all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold…in raiment of needlework….the virgins her companions follow her…into the king’s palace” (Psalm 45). Facing the gate from his elevated throne in the pillared hall, the king was astonished to see Esther coming, regally and reverently, into the court. What a moment of tense emotion. What immeasurable relief when the king held out his golden scepter! Had he been once again dazzled by her beauty? He did not know that ‘The King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Proverbs 21: 1, K.J.V.).
While Esther, Chapter 5, focuses on the action King Ahasuerus took in extending the golden sceptre to Queen Esther, we must not forget that his behavior went against the laws of Medo-Persia. His was not a natural inclination to ignore the laws of the land. His former queen Vashti, could verify the fact that the king’s patience with having his will crossed was very short.
But let us never forget, when God’s children are called upon by heaven to stand tall for the King of the Universe, our Father in heaven never leaves us to stand alone. Whether we recognize the hosts of heavenly angels by our side, they are present indeed. And the radiance of Queen Esther, as she stood before King Ahasuerus only underscores the fact that God’s care never wavers, especially when His children need Him the most. I appreciate the way author George Dickinson, in his book on Esther, Hidden Patterns, helps us witness what he calls the ever present grand design that weaves its way throughout Esther’s life: And it was so when the king saw Esther the Queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight; and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand” (Esther 5: 2). This is the moment for which Esther had waited – the moment for which ten thousand prayers had been offered. In the dazzling pageantry of that magnificent court, scores of eyes look enraptured on the stately figure, first discreetly pausing as if to enhance the dignity of her unconscious superiority. This is Persia’s peerless queen. Persia is proud of her. Then in calm dignity the heroic queen moved elegantly toward the throne.”
At the moment when Esther may well have feared most greatly for her life, God’s hand took action and the golden sceptre was extended toward her. And she moved near as she touched the sceptre of Providence.
“God of Your goodness, give me Yourself,
For You are sufficient for me…
If I were to ask for anything less
I should always be in want,
For in You alone do I have all.”
Julian of Norwich
“We are assured and know that God being a partner in labor, ‘all things’ work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.”
Romans 8: 28
“My soul be still thou art in the hands of thy Covenant God. Were these strange vicissitudes in thy history the result of accident, or chance, thou mightest well be overwhelmed; but ‘all things,’ and this thing (place your special need at this particular moment in your life here) which may be now disquieting you, is one of these ‘all things,’ that are so working mysteriously for thy good. Trust thy God! He will not deceive thee, - thy interests are with Him in safe custody.
When sight says, ‘All these things are against me,’ let faith rebuke the hasty conclusion, and say, ‘Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?’ How often does God hedge up our way with thorns, to elicit simple trust! How seldom can we see ‘all things’ so working for our good! But it is better discipline to believe it. Oh! for faith amid frowning providences, to say, ‘I know that Thy judgments are good;’ and, relying in the dark, to exclaim, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!’
Blessed Jesus! to Thee are committed the reins of this universal empire. The same hand that was once nailed to the cross, is now wielding the sceptre on the throne, ‘all power given unto Thee in heaven and in earth.’ How can I doubt the wisdom, and faithfulness, and love, of the most mysterious earthly dealing, when I know the ‘Roll of Providence’ is thus in the hands of Him who has given the mightiest pledge Omnipotence could give of His tender interest in my soul’s well-being, by giving Himself for me?”
J. R. Macduff
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus