Devotional Week 41 Friday
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted.”
Psalm 47: 9
“God supplies shields to His children. The shields are in His armoury, and they are at the disposal of any soul which sends forth a prayerful cry of need. There are subtle enemies on the road. They lie in ambush. The take us unawares. They are especially vigilant in the seasons when we are most easily attacked…And so we have constant need of the shields of God.
And here is one of them – a healthy sense of the hideousness of sin…The patriarch Job laid his hand on one of his defenses when he said ‘ Cannot my palate discern perverse things!’ So long as the palate retains this power of discrimination, and loathes the unclean, its very loathing is part of the armament which will safeguard it along the foulest road.
And here is another (shield) – a healthy sense of the beauty of holiness…It is a mighty defense for the soul to have a passionate love of the lovely, to go along the road eager for every sign of the King’s Presence, and to love His appearing…When our emotions kindle at the sight of the thing of grace, we have a piece of splendid armor.
And here is a third (shield) – the assurance that God loves us. What a defense is that on the road! It gives birth to songs in the night! Our very songs add still more to our defenses. ‘Thou hast compassed me about with songs of deliverance.’ ‘The joy of the Lord shall be your strength.’ All these are shields. These shields belong unto God, and they are the gifts of His grace.”
J. H. Jowett
Springs in the Desert
Studies in the Psalms
Today’s Study Text:
“And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, ‘What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.’ Then answered Esther, and said, ‘My petition and my request is; If I have found favour in the sight of the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath said.’”
Esther 5: 6-8
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“The Blessing of Divine Discernment” Part 37
“We must not trust every saying or suggestion, but warily and patiently ponder things according to the will of God.”
Thomas á Kempis
The Imitation of Christ
Have I ever asked God to bestow upon me His gift of discernment?
Have there been times in my life when I acted or spoke too hastily and wished I had been more discerning?
“We best oppose error by promoting a solid knowledge of the word of truth; and the greatest kindness we can do to children, is to make them early to know the Bible.”
“The gift of discernment has been somewhat neglected in some contemporary circles, but it is perhaps the gift that most of all needs to be sought and cultivated, because its exercise is the key to the right use of all the rest.”
Esther’s guests had arrived. The banquet was served. The wine was poured. And now came the time King Ahasuerus had been waiting for. “What is on the mind of my gorgeous queen,” he may well have asked himself. While I’m certain be enjoyed the food, it is never easy to be completely composed when you have an unknown situation weighing heavy on your mind.
The fact was, Esther had never unexpectedly come before the king before. As she told her cousin Mordecai, it simply wasn’t lawful. So the king had to believe in his heart that something serious was happening.
I’m certain Esther made certain her guests were amply taken care of and yet the wheels in her head were turning as well. She may well have been pondering the thought as to when she should tell the king about the crisis she and all the Jewish residents of Medo-Persia faced. However, if we were to put ourselves in Esther’s position, I believe she asked for heavenly assistance as to when the right moment would arise for her to reveal to the king what was in her heart.
Here is when the word “discernment” enters into the evening at Esther’s feast. Webster’s Dictionary defines “discernment” as the ability to: “Perceive something hidden or obscure. To detect and comprehend mentally. To show insight and to be able to make perceptive judgments.”
So as I read our study texts for today, several very important lessons came to my mind about the gift of discernment:
First: Esther didn’t do all the talking. In fact, the first words recorded at the banquet were spoken by King Ahasuerus. “What is your petition Esther?” By doing more listening than talking, all of us could find ourselves in the position of learning more about those around us. This is a lesson that I’ve found to be one of the blessings of the Transformation Garden Prayer ministry. Sometimes the prayer requests are very short. But other times they are very lengthy. And as I began to pray over each request, my eyes were opened to the fact that often an individual who takes their precious time to share what’s going on in their world has found in the past that no one seems to listen or to care for them. So many times people have written and apologized that their request was too long. Can you imagine that one of God’s children would worry that when they had a critical need in their life, if they shared what was on their heart, they would be ignored or worse yet, turned away? It has been a real eye-opener to me for my former extremely busy life often had little time to stop and comfort a hurting heart or just be a good friend. By our ability to be “unseen” visitors at Esther’s banquet, we are able to see that this discerning daughter of God was slow to speak and quick to quietly listen.
Second: By quietly listening, Esther was able to let the king share the fact that he was so enchanted, not only with this banquet, but also with the idea that even if Esther asked for half the kingdom, his offer to bestow this gift to her was still on the table. I have a feeling, call it “women’s intuition” if you would like, that as the king was talking to Esther, she may have moved a little closer to him so she could look into his eyes as he spoke. Individuals who are discerning don’t listen with their minds in neutral. They focus on what is being said. They aren’t trying to listen with one ear to what’s being said and the other ear on a T.V. program. I grew up in a home where working all the time was considered to be the pinnacle of godliness. Empty hands should be busy hands. When I got married I kept up my frenzy of activity. Finally one day Jim was trying to tell me something and he got this annoyed look on his face and I interrupted and said, “Why are you upset?” His answer was blunt and correct at the same time. “I bet you couldn’t tell me one thing I just told you,” he retorted. Well, I had to admit he was correct and then he made this observation, “You would probably find that if you did just one thing at a time, not only would you enjoy what you were doing more but you would also find that those around you would be appreciative that they had your full attention.” I’m married to a discerning husband! Esther’s discerning behavior allowed her to find out that not only did King Ahasuerus like her attention, but that a continuation of the evening might even increase his desire to find out what it was that she wanted him to do for her.
Third: For the discerning individual, Esther 5: 7, 8 should be required reading!! Esther begins by saying, ‘My petition and my request.” At first I thought that these two words were so close to the same thing it almost sounded as if Esther was asking twice; my petition and my request. But here’s where the Hebrew isn’t just like a little light from a candle. It’s like one of those huge commercial spotlights shining upon this passage. In Hebrew the word petition used in this text means: “to demand, to require earnestly, even to borrow or get a loan.” This helps us understand why the king may have said he would give Esther “half the kingdom” Quite possibly, he was thinking that she wanted to purchase something or needed money for some reason. Then there’s the word requestwhich in this passage of Scripture means “to search out by any method even prayer or worship.” I just wonder if King Ahasuerus hadn’t heard about the prayers and the fasting in sackcloth and ashes. There was not such a great distance in Susa that someone who had a relative or friend in the king’s palace and who talked with someone in the queen’s palace ended up carrying a tale and before you know it, King Ahasuerus got word of the “goings on,” in sackcloth and ashes. So now, the discerning Esther, raised the bar by saying, “I am petitioning you and I am making a request of you. By any means possible, I am asking, something critical for you to do for me.”
Fourth: Esther didn’t just stop, by saying, “What I’m talking about is ‘My petition and My request, something extremely personal that affects me.’” She then repeated words spoken in deference to the king, “If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath” (Esther 5: 7, 8) I really like the way commentator Matthew Henry sizes up this situation: “That Esther thought fit to ask no more than a promise that he would please accept another treat, the next day, in her apartment, and Haman with him (shows) this adjournment of the main petition may be attributed to Esther’s prudence (another quality we studied earlier). Esther hoped yet further to win upon King Ahasuerus and ingratiate herself with him.
Fifth: Individuals who are discerning are willingly patient to trust God’s timetable and not their own. As Matthew Henry points out, it may well have been that at the first banquet Esther felt the need for “further time for prayer, that God would give her wisdom…The putting of her (request) off she knew would be well taken as an expression of the great reverence she had for the king and her unwillingness to be too pressing upon him. What is hastily asked is often as hastily denied; but what is asked with a pause deserves to be considered.” Then Matthew Henry makes a vital point which underscores the fact that God’s timing is always the best timing. Even when we can’t understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. As Matthew Henry notes, “God’s providence, putting it into Esther’s heart to delay her petition a day longer, she knew not why, but God did! What was to happen in the night intervening might further her design and make way for her success.”
As I read these words above I felt within my own heart that they could have been written to me and just maybe for you as well. Quite possibly, we do not know why God is doing something in our lives. We may not even think He is at work for we can’t see the evidence at this point in time. But if we, like Esther, will pray for God’s gift of discernment, we are promised that this blessing will be showered into our lives as we learn to quietly wait and listen for our King whose love for us is so great He came to earth to rescue us and He is, at this moment working out the perfect timetable for your life and mine.
“The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.”
Proverbs 15: 14
“Grant me, O Lord, to know what is worth knowing,
to love what is worth loving,
to praise what delights You most,
to value what is precious to You,
and to reject whatever is evil in Your eyes.
Give me true discernment,
so that I may judge rightly between things that differ.
Above all, may I search out and do
what is pleasing to You;
through Jesus Christ my Lord.”
Thomas á Kempis
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
1 Thessalonians 5: 21
“I took a day to search for God,
And found Him not. But as I trod
By rocky ledge, through woods untamed,
Just where one scarlet lily flamed,
I saw His footprints in the sod.
Then suddenly, all unaware,
Far off in the deep shadows, where
A solitary hermit thrush
Sang through the holy twilight hush
I heard His voice upon the air.
And even as I marveled how
God gives us Heaven here and now,
In a stir of wind that hardly shook
The poplar leaves beside the brook
His hand was light upon my brow.
At last with evening as I turned
Homeward, and thought what I had learned
And all that there was still to probe
I caught the glory of His robe
Where the last fires of sunset burned.
Back to the world with quickening start
I looked and longed for any part
In making saving Beauty be…
And from that kindling ectasy
I knew God dwelt within my heart.”
“Spirit of Truth and Judgment,
who alone can exercise
the powers that grip our world:
at the point of crisis
give us Your discernment,
that we may accurately name what is evil,
and know the way that leads to peace,
through Jesus Christ.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus