14 July, 2024

July 7 Study | She Found Favor

by | 1 July, 2024 | 0 comments

INTRODUCTION TO JULY LESSONS: The exilic book of Esther is different from any other book in the Bible. It never mentions God’s name. But God’s presence is evident in every chapter. (This idea is effectively conveyed in Donald Sunukjian’s article and sermon titled, “A Night in Persia,” which also is known as “My Name Is Harbona.”) Esther’s uncle Mordecai plays a major role in the book; he nudges Esther to step up and play the role of hero. Esther, a young Jewish woman, succeeds Vashti as queen of Persia. She becomes the wife of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) and ends up saving the Jewish people from annihilation. Students will learn how discernment helps achieve favor, how courage rises when it is most needed, how love acts in protection, and how joy is found in God’s victory. 

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Unit: Esther 
Theme: A Hero’s Portrait 
Lesson Text: Esther 2:5-20 
Supplemental Texts: Esther 1:16–2:4; Psalms 5:11-12; 84:11; Proverbs 3:3-4; James 4:6 
Aim: Live in the favor of the Lord. 

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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_July7_2024.

Send an email to [email protected] to receives PDFs of the lesson material each month.

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By Mark Scott

Former U.S. Rep. Vicki Hartzler of Missouri often puts in her prayer email that God showed her “favor” in this or that event. She means that God was affirming, supporting, and smiling at her efforts to make a difference. Queen Esther was shown similar favor. Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah (which means “myrtle”), found herself in the horns of a dilemma but remained in God’s favor. 

The book of Esther begins with the Jewish people in captivity and Ahasuerus (Xerxes) in power. He governed from India to Ethiopia. He showed his opulence by throwing long-lasting feasts. Vashti, his queen, did the same for the women in her palace. At one point, Ahasuerus wanted to show off Vashti’s beauty to his guests. He summoned her, but she refused to come. This caused the king and his male counterparts in the kingdom to come undone. Vashti was condemned and dethroned. The search for a new queen began (Esther 2:1-4). 

Favor with Mordecai 
Esther 2:5-7, 10-11, 19-20 

Mordecai, whose name means “little man,” was an older cousin of Esther. He was an old man by the time these events took place. He might have functioned as the Jewish representative to Xerxes’ council. Mordecai descended from men who had been carried into exile by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar many years earlier, during the time Jehoiachin was king of Judah.  

Because Esther’s parents had died, Mordecai felt morally obligated to care for her. He treated her as if she was his adopted daughter. Esther was young. She had a lovely figure (fair appearance) and was beautiful. Mordecai did everything in his power to protect Esther. He told Esther to keep her nationality and family background hidden (this is mentioned twice in our lesson text). After Esther became queen, Mordecai would pace back and forth in front of the palace by the courtyard of the harem to check on her. Esther kept her nationality and background a secret, and she did everything that Mordecai told her to do. In doing this, she gained Mordecai’s favor.  

Favor with Hegai 
Esther 2:8-9, 12-14 

Hegai was one of the king’s eunuchs. He was in charge of the king’s harem (women). Esther quickly won over Hegai and gained his favor (the root of this word, chesed, appears four times; it is the word for mercy). Much like Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 39:3), Esther continued to succeed in whatever she did. Hegai provided Esther with extra beauty treatments (scraping and rubbing) and special food. Esther received help from seven female attendants and got the best place in the harem.  

Esther was naturally beautiful, but she wasn’t free to mosey into the king’s presence. There was a protocol to follow—specifically, twelve months of prepping—six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. She was slick indeed.  

Hegai wanted Esther to do well, and he promised her anything from that harem that would help her advance her chances with the king. The normal pattern was for young ladies to spend a night with the king but then never return to him unless he summoned them. It was a “one-and-done” arrangement. After their night with Xerxes, the women even went to another part of the harem overseen by a different eunuch (Shaashgaz). But in Esther’s case, the king was pleased. Did this arrangement cause Esther some grief in light of not marrying within the Israelite family? Of course, but as an exile, what was she to do? 

Favor with the King 
Esther 2:15-18 

When it came time for Esther to enter the king’s presence, she took only what Hegai had suggested that she take. Her simple beauty, in contrast to much opulence, would suffice. Everyone was smitten by Esther’s charm. In the seventh year of his reign (497 BC) Esther came to the king. The wait alone would have been taxing.  

Xerxes was attracted to Esther more than the other virgins (women of marital age). He decided to make Esther queen. So, Esther got the royal crown as well as a great banquet. The king proclaimed the day a holiday throughout the provinces (which probably meant that no taxes were due that day).  

Esther continued to keep her nationality and family background a secret even from the king—as urged by Mordecai. This was all the Lord’s doing so as to enable Esther to find the favor she would need to deliver her people. And God also would give Mordecai favor in uncovering the plot of Bigthana and Teresh in the verses that follow.  


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