Devotional Week 45 Monday
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
Psalm 145: 1, 2
God Give Us a Future
“God give us a future,
daring us to go
into dreams and dangers
on a path unknown.
We will face tomorrow
in the Spirit’s power,
we will let God change us,
for new life starts now.
We must leave behind us
sins of yesterday,
for God’s new beginning
is a better way.
Fear and doubt and habit
must not hold us back;
God gives hope, and insight,
and the strength we lack.
Holy Spirit, teach us
how to read the signs,
how to meet the challenge
of our troubled times.
Love us into action,
stir us into praise.
Till we choose God’s life, and
find our future there.”
“The praise of God should be the object of our meditation in this life, because in the life to come it will be for ever the object of our rejoicing.”
Augustine of Hippo
Today’s Study Text:
“Then Esther the queen answered and said, ‘If I have found favor in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request; for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage.”
Esther 7: 3, 4
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“Then the Queen Spoke” Part 50 A
“To guard the passion and presence of God in your heart, choose your words the way you choose your friends…wisely. Know they will be few but precious.
How thoughtfully do I consider the words I speak?
“Words always rest on the virtue of the speaker.”
Have I ever had to “eat my words” for they were spoken too hastily?
“Words must be weighed not counted.”
“A word spoken in due season, how good it is.”
Proverbs 15: 23
“Keep your words soft and sweet. You never know when you’re going to have to eat them.”
It was what the Bible calls “the feast of wine” – the second night of feasting held at Queen Esther’s palace residence. As the dishes were pushed aside, the king, who couldn’t wait to find out what Esther’s petition was, interjected himself into the quiet evening with the words, “What is thy petition Queen Esther?” It was as though he simply could not wait any longer. And so in a convincing tone, he reassured Esther: “It (whatever she asked for) shall be granted thee” (Esther 7: 2, K.J.V.). As we earlier studied, this was the third time the king let Esther know that the king’s generosity extended to the length of even half his kingdom.
I don’t know how long it took for Esther to respond but when she did, the first thing that is revealed is the fact that Esther’s words were extremely well chosen. I happen to appreciate the plain-spoken and direct way The Message Bible tackles the words of Esther in Chapter 7: 3.
Queen Esther Answered
“If I have found favor in your eyes, O King, and if it please the king, give me my life, and give my people their lives.”
In the Hebrew translation, the word “favor” means “to stoop down to one who is inferior and receive graciousness and merciful kindness.” Three times Esther used the words, “favor in thy sight,” when addressing the king. First, when she asked the king to dinner as she entered his throne room uncalled for. Second, when after the first banquet, she invited the king and Haman to return on the following night to feast again with her. And third, as she began to lay out before the king, the burden on her heart.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Esther’s wisely chosen words had to touch the king’s heart for she came before him as a suppliant – speaking as an inferior, almost begging, one might say, for the king to extend to her, his mercy and grace.
But Esther didn’t let her words stop with her recognition of the role she had within the king’s hierarchy. As I read Esther 7: 3 several times, I thought back to a time in my own life when I was definitely in a “lesser” position, asking “my boss” for a raise. I happened to be petrified because this particular individual had a history of being a “jerk” to put it mildly. So I practiced my little speech and when I read it to my husband, Jim, he made a point that has stuck with me for years. He kindly advised me to, “Ask for what you want right up front – simply and clearly.” I did what Jim suggested and to my utter surprise, it only took my opening sentence and there was a quick reply from my boss, “I was thinking you deserved a raise!”
Now let’s look again at Esther’s words, which I might add, tell her need, completely, in one sentence. “If I have found your grace and mercy, then please, spare my life and the lives of my people.” Short. Direct. And to-the-point! “Oh, merciful, king, save my life and the lives of my people.”
It is interesting for us to note that when the Psalmist David brought his longings and requests before God, he spoke in the same manner as Esther:
1. O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust; save me from all them that persecute me and deliver me.”
Psalm 7: 1
This is one short verse with direct words spoken to his Father in heaven. “I come to You because I trust You to save and deliver me from those who persecute me.”
I call this the “Who, Why, What” prayer”:
1. Who do I call? “My God who I trust.”
2. Why do I call? “I’m being persecuted.”
3. What do I need? “My God to save and deliver me.”
Sometimes, when in a great need for my heavenly Father to intervene in my life, I think I try to get all “fancy-wancy” as we call it in our household. I let my prayers wander all around the place, thinking I’m saying all the right words, when before I know it, I’m up off my knees without ever getting to the real reason I came to God in the first place. This is what I love about Esther’s request to the king. Her request was one that had been well thought out. In one sentence she was able to briefly “touch all the bases” as we sometimes say:
1. Who do I ask? “My merciful king.”
2. Why do I call? “He’s in the position to save me and my people.”
3. What do I need? “He can deliver me and my people.”
After the initial shock of her request, I believe Esther recognized that there might well be what I call supporting evidence that she should share. So she continued with the details: “We’ve been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed – sold to be massacred, eliminated. (Note: one word wasn’t enough to describe murder!) If we had just been sold off into slavery, I wouldn’t even have brought it up; our troubles wouldn’t have been worth bothering the king over” (Esther 7: 4, The Message Bible). I appreciate the clarity with which the paraphrase in The Message Bible lays out the “nuts and bolts” of the situation. Or more accurately, the “swords and spears.” As Esther wisely tells the king, “We were sold.” STOP! Indeed, this is the time to hold up a Transformation Garden “STOP” sign. (At about this moment in time, I can see the wheels turning and the lights going on in King Ahasuerus’ brain. He may well have been asking himself, “Who recently told me there were people in this country who needed to be obliterated? Who told me that he would pay to have the deed done?”)
Just to get a sense of the timing of Esther’s petition, I read the biblical passage and timed myself. In just 30 seconds, speaking distinctly and slowly, I was able to relate Esther’s petition to the king. (Esther 7: 3, 4, K.J.V.). In just one half of a minute, Esther’s entire request was laid before King Ahasuerus. What immense wisdom was given to Esther as she pleaded for her life and the lives of all the Jews in Medo-Persia. In the words of King Solomon found in Proverbs 17: 27, the wisest man who ever lived wrote: “She (he) that hath knowledge spareth her (his) words.” No wonder Solomon later penned additional instructional words: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18: 21, K.J.V.)
May we, like Esther, take the advice of the “Preacher” whose words in Ecclesiastes 32: 8 are wise, indeed:
“Be brief, say much in few words; be as one who knows and can still hold (her) his tongue.”
“Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.”
Frances Ridley Havergal
Wonderful Words of Life
“Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see,
Wonderful words of life.
Words of life and beauty,
Teach me faith and duty;
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life.”
Prayer on the Way
“Our brother Jesus, You set our feet upon the way
and sometimes where you lead we do not like or
Bless us with courage where the way is fraught
with dread or danger;
Bless us with grace-filled words when we are
called upon to sooth a conflicted situation;
Bless us with night vision where we travel in the
dark, keen hearing where we have not sight,
and a tongue filled with kind words.
Bless us with humility to learn;
Bless us with decisiveness where we must
move with speed;
Bless us with love, given and received;
And bless us with Your presence, even
when we know it in your absence.
Lead us into exile, until we find that on
the road is where You are,
and where You are is going home.
Bless us, lead us, love us, bring us home
bearing the gospel of life.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus