Esther 5-7

Esther 5-7…God is faithful.

The book of Esther shows again that God keeps His word even when His people do not. Even in the exile, our Father sovereignly orchestrated history to give His people a second chance to destroy their foes. Saul failed, but another Benjaminite named Mordecai, with the help of his cousin Esther, accomplished God’s purpose against Agag and the Amalekites. And by the Lord’s grace, Mordecai and Esther did so without being exemplary saints.

God is not named explicitly in the book of Esther, but He is present nonetheless. Mordecai “happened” to hear of the plot to kill Ahasuerus (2:19–23). His warning to Ahasuerus made the king favor him when the ruler “happened” to have a sleepless night (6:1–11). These events all “happened” to converge and put Mordecai and Esther in place as agents through which God was again faithful to His sinful people to save them from annihilation.

When we look back over our lives, we often find that the Lord was conspicuously present during those times when we thought He was absent. During the times when we suffer from doubts about God’s love for us, we should not focus on whether or not we “feel” His presence. The Lord may choose to hide Himself for a time, but He never leaves us. Those with persevering faith trust that God is present and directing their lives even if He seems to be a million miles away.

1 Chronicles 15-17

1 Chronicles 15-17…King of the cosmos.

When contemplating His kingly rule, God’s sovereignty is one of His foremost characteristics that we find accentuated in Scripture, and is emphasized here in this section of 1 Chronicles. According to 1 Chronicles 16:31, “The Lord reigns.” That God is sovereign remains unbelievable to those without the eyes of faith. Made in His image, we were created to exercise beneficent rule over the earth and its creatures, tasked to exercise God’s dominion for His glory (Gen. 1:27–28). Had we not fallen, Adam and all his posterity would have continued reflecting the glory that God intended for His creation to this very day. But being in Adam, we all choose to exercise dominion selfishly, chasing after our own ends, grabbing for an autonomous life that values power, wealth, and prestige as ends in themselves (Rom. 5:12–21).

When the Lord sets His grace upon us, however, the righteous dominion we exercise in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in our families, at work, and in other places embodies the fact that the creator God is sovereign and has made us to reflect His glory. This was particularly true of the righteous old covenant kings. While there was a great temptation for them to take the nation away from the law of God so that they could chase after their own selfish desires, good kings like David did not succumb to this temptation — for the most part — during their reigns. Instead of keeping the eyes of the people on the king’s sovereignty, they acknowledged and directed their people toward the reign of the Lord. We need to do the same, trusting the Lord, and submitting to Him with joy.

2 Samuel 22-24

2 Samuel 22-24…The ways of God

Have you ever puzzled over statements in the Bible that seem to contradict each other? For example, 1 Chronicles 21:1 states that the one who “moved David to number Israel” was Satan, but 2 Samuel 24:1 says it was the Lord. How do we explain this? We know that God never tempts anyone to sin (James 1:13).

The answer lies in the way the Old Testament writers expressed the ways of God. They sometimes ascribed to God what He merely allowed, knowing that He permits us to make wrong choices and then uses the tragic results to accomplish His good purposes.

In 2 Samuel 24:1, we read that God “moved David” to take a census of Israel. This is clearly a case when God allowed Satan to influence David, for it was an attempt to assess Israel’s military strength. This reflected the same sin of pride and self-reliance that was prevalent in the nation. As a result, God judged the people and their king.

So what was the good purpose God accomplished by allowing Satan to influence David? Although many Israelites died, the nation itself was spared and purified. The Lord punished the guilty but also showed His mercy.

God’s ways may be beyond our understanding, but we can always trust Him to do what is right. He uses trials, and intentionally tests us to turn us toward Him. This testing of our faith matures us spiritually, and Christians who see trials as punishment from God have a very small view of Him.