Queen Esther faced and helped avert the potential genocide of her people. She rose to the top of political power without any of the advantages of aristocratic birth, well-placed friends, inherited wealth, or social prestige.
Yet the book of Esther’s real story is not found in political intrigue or superior management ideals. It is that God is at the center of it, despite the fact that God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. The great lesson to be learned is that God keeps his promises.
This commentary shows how Esther is perfect guidance for us when we find ourselves in a situation where right and wrong are not so clearly defined and every choice we have seems to be a troubling mixture of good and bad. It is perfect inspiration for us when we find ourselves in situations we never sought, never planned for, and don’t think we have the gifts to succeed at.
“The book of Esther tells a story of the Jewish people who, about fifty years after Cyrus’s decree, apparently had chosen not to return to the homeland.” (Page 26)
“The major theological point of the book of Esther is that God fulfills his covenant promises through his providence. The major point of contemporary significance is that God unfolds his will for individual lives through that same providence. God continues to work through providence, through seemingly insignificant events, to call people in every age to himself.” (Page 46)
“The Esther story is an example of how at one crucial moment in history the covenant promises God had made were fulfilled, not by his miraculous intervention, but through completely ordinary events.” (Page 41)
“The major theological point of Esther is that throughout history God fulfills his covenant promises through his providence. The contemporary significance of this for application today is that God’s will for an individual’s life is unfolded through divine providence day by day.” (Page 38)
“The great paradox of Esther is that God is omnipotently present even where God is most conspicuously absent. Jesus’ last words were, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matt. 28:19–20). And then, ironically, he left! Nevertheless, our Lord is omnipotently present even where he is most conspicuously absent.” (Page 49)
Karen Jobes is Gerald F. Hawthorne Professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis at Wheaton College. She has written the NIV Application Commentary on Esther as well as a detailed study of an ancient Greek version of Esther and is the coauthor of Invitation to the Septuagint.