14 July, 2024

July 14 Study | She Found Courage

by | 8 July, 2024 | 0 comments

Unit: Esther 
Theme: A Hero’s Portrait 
Lesson Text: Esther 4:1-17 
Supplemental Texts: Esther 3; 1 Samuel 17:32-37; 2 Chronicles 32:7-8; Philippians 1:18-21; 1 Peter 3:12-14 
Aim: Take courage when threatened. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_July14_2024.

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By Mark Scott

Challenging situations can foster courage. David disliked God’s name being defied, so he mustered up his courage to take on the giant (1 Samuel 17). Hezekiah was troubled by Sennacherib’s advances, so he courageously reminded his men that the “arm of flesh” would fail (2 Chronicles 32). Paul was disturbed that people would preach the gospel out of spite toward him, but he courageously decided it was most important that the gospel be preached (Philippians 1).  

Courage can arise when times are tough. 

Times got tough for Mordecai and Esther when Haman went crazy. Haman was Xerxes’ right-hand man—second in command of the kingdom. But Mordecai was the moth in Haman’s Persian rug. Haman was so threatened by Mordecai’s seeming disrespect in not bowing in Haman’s presence, he devised a plan to take advantage of the king’s indifference. Haman designed an edict to kill, destroy, and annihilate the Jews, and he tricked Xerxes into signing it without the king knowing which race of people it concerned. Haman even offered his own funds (which Xerxes refused) to fulfill the demands of the edict. 

The Need for Courage  
Esther 4:1-3 

Mordecai learned about the edict and expressed his sorrow in three ways—by tearing his clothing, wearing sackcloth and ashes, and wailing loudly and bitterly. Mordecai could do this only in the courtyard of the king, for sackcloth was not appropriate apparel when venturing too near to Xerxes.  

Word of this edict traveled fast. As the provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom were informed about the destructive edict, other Jews reacted similarly to how Mordecai reacted—by mourning, weeping and wailing, and putting on sackcloth and ashes. There also was fasting. Obviously, someone needed to step up. Courage was needed. 

The Plan of Courage  
Esther 4:4-11 

A great distance between royalty and common folk existed, so Esther seemed slower to realize the effect of the edict than people in faraway provinces. But Mordecai knew something needed to be done—and fast. Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants informed her of Mordecai’s distress. Esther enlisted Hathak, a eunuch who was assigned to her, to take clothes to Mordecai and attempt to find out the problem.  

Hathak, probably numb to many of the king’s edicts, had to ask Mordecai what the problem was. Mordecai told Hathak everything—even the amount of money Haman had agreed to pay for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai showed Hathak a copy of the edict. Mordecai requested that Hathak explain everything to Esther and that she go to the king to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.  

Hathak explained everything to Esther. Esther’s heart must have sunk. She wanted Hathak to tell Mordecai what was at stake for such a thing. No one approached the inner court of the king unless summoned. The penalty was death. The only deliverance was for the king to extend his gold scepter. Then all would be well. But Xerxes may well have been in one of his mood swings. He loved Esther very much, but he had not called her for thirty days. Mordecai was banking on Esther’s ability to sway the king. The plan was for Esther to bolster her courage and go to the king and plead for mercy. 

The Nudge Toward Courage 
Esther 4:12-14 

Mordecai’s encouragement to Esther was probably more than a gentle nudge. If Esther was at all hesitant, Mordecai gave her a serious reminder of what was at stake. Mordecai prodded Esther in four ways. First, he reminded her that her own life was in jeopardy. Living in the palace was no guarantee she would be spared. Second, if Esther did not step up to secure relief and deliverance for the Jews, then God would bring help from someone or something else.  

Third, Esther’s recalcitrance might cause her father’s family to meet their demise even if Esther somehow survived. Fourth, Esther’s current position as queen put her in the providential place to help now.  

The Decision Requiring Courage  
Esther 4:15-17 

Esther might have gulped hard, but then she apparently threw caution to the wind. She requested that her fellow Jews declare a three-day and three-night total fast (not even water). She would encourage her attendants (young women) to do the same. This would no doubt include pagan women. Then came the most famous line in this book. “If I perish, I perish.” All courageous acts come down to a moment of decision. Esther obeyed Mordecai, and then Mordecai obeyed Esther. 

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