Esther: Understudied and Underappreciated

Esther

God, in giving us his Word, preserved 66 books that, together, make up our Bibles. We believe each one to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God, the final rule of faith and conduct. And we believe that the whole Bible is designed to point us to Jesus, the Word of God become man.

If all of that is true, how come I know so little about the book of Esther?

That is the question that kicked off my personal study of the book of Esther for the past year. Presently, I am teaching a class on Esther based on my studies at Covenant Life Church where I serve as Executive Pastor.

Thus provides the occasion for the following series of blog posts where I invite you, the reader, to join me in a study of one of the most understudied and underappreciated books in the Bible.

But first…

Why I came to study Esther

Here are a few of the reasons I chose to do a deep study on Esther:

  • I had never done so before: As I said, above, I knew precious little of the story of Esther before this present study in my own life.
  • Never had a class on Esther: Ok, I don’t think (and don’t expect) seminary to cover everything, but I did find it interesting to have never even had a discussion in a seminary class on Esther.
  • Only heard one sermon before: While no classes on Esther, I did have a preaching lab professor preach a sermon on Esther in class one day. He covered the whole book… all 10 chapters… in a 30 minute message. Now, it was a really good sermon, but seems that there might be more to be studied here.
  • For women only: Ever get the feeling that Esther and Ruth, just because they are named after female characters in their respective stories, are for women only? That’s how I felt… and I thought I should change that.

An understudied and underappreciated book

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who had never studied Esther much:

  • No commentaries: For the first 6 centuries of the church, no commentaries were written on the book of Esther!
  • Calvin never preached on Esther: Yeah, the same Calvin who was preaching 3 times a day 5+ days a week, and he never preached a sermon on Esther.
  • Luther questioned its canonicity: Martin Luther of “I started the Reformation” fame questioned whether Esther should even be in the Bible. Let’s all be glad he didn’t get the final call on that or we might be missing some wonderful truths. 🙂

How the story of Esther is normally told

My familiarity with Esther before diving into this study may have been limited to the Veggie Tales version. But there are some commonalities in the way the story of Esther is normally told:

  • Esther is the courageous, pure, lovely young beauty who always does the right thing
  • Mordecai is the wise old sage of an uncle who guides and directs Esther
  • Ahasareus is the generally good, though easily deceived, king

Listen to this description from The Reluctant Queen, an historical novel on Esther from Joan Wolf:

You’ve read it as a biblical tale of courage. Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story. She was a simple girl faced with an impossible choice. He was a magnificent king with a lonely heart. Their love was the divine surprise that changed the course of history. The beloved story of Esther springs to fresh life in this inspired novel that vibrates with mystery, intrigue, and romance.

So as not to bury the lead, let me just put this out there: I don’t think that is what we are going to find as we get into the story of Esther. In fact, what we find is far different than anything I expected. I invite you to join me in this space in the coming weeks as I post my insights into the book of Esther.

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