Esther – Lesson Nine
This may be an utterly unknown word in your vocabulary, but hopefully it is part of your life. I vaguely remember my vocabulary-obsessive mom using this word when I was young. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the dictionary devotee she was and refused to look up much in our 12”-thick, 25-lb. volume resting on its honored pedestal. (Now, the nuances of words drive me to my own dictionary almost daily.)
This word actually came from a search through the 1828 dictionary for a definition of “loyalty.” That led to a definition of “fidelity,” which then brought me to “veracity.” So here it is – veracity means, “habitual observance of truth; an invariable expression of truth.” Loyalty and righteousness were to be my focus for this week’s lesson. But there was something deeper, and Noah Webster helped me find it. Within loyalty is an unswerving dedication to truth. Even the definition for righteousness contained the word “rectitude” which means, “exact conformity to truth.” Most Christians understand what truth means. The problem resides in the words “habitual observance” and “invariable expression.”
In my life, the best example of veracity has been my husband. When I first met Mark, we were at a city-wide Bible study for single adults. The first night I met this easy-smiling, gentle, intense, brown-eyed, tanned, blue-jeans-and-sandal-wearing guy, my initial impression of him was that of a modern-day Jesus. I’m serious!
An engineer, Mark has a natural instinct toward detail. He reads slowly. He examines plans painstakingly. As a small-business owner, he is faithful. He works through the night if an occasional deadline looms. He gives his very best on every job. As dad, he expects much. He reads his children well and steps in to correct root problems before they grow. He encourages just as heartily their budding talents and dreams. As a believer, his desire is to obey. He studies the Word microscopically. He turns over passages carefully. Whether weeding the yard, constructing a wall, fixing an appliance, organizing his files, putting together a Bible lesson, or offering advice, he wants to be thorough and godly. He’s made the striving – the longing – for truth in all aspects of life habitual.
Is he perfect? Absolutely not. Striving doesn’t always pan out. (Sorry, honey.) But he’s given me a picture – even with its imperfections – of what choosing veracity looks like.
DAYS ONE AND TWO
As Esther Chapter 8 opens, King Ahasuerus honors two people who have depicted veracity – Queen Esther and Mordecai. Esther is given Haman’s house. Mordecai is given the king’s signet ring once wielded by Haman. They both get the chance to once again be open about their familial ties.
A. Read Esther 8:1-6. Esther turns over Haman’s “house” to Mordecai. The New Living Translation and the New International Versions use the term “estate” which is a more accurate picture. Mordecai was now the steward in charge of all the deceased’s assets. As Esther’s guardian as well as loyal servant to the king, he’d built a reputation of wisdom and honesty.
1. Ecclesiastes 7:1 says, “A good name is better than a good ointment, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.” The term “ointment” or “fine perfume” implies all the kinds of wealth men can earn and all the titles men can own. 1 A similar verse in Proverbs 22:1 adds, “…favor is better than silver and gold.” The reputation of a person far outweighs anything the world has to offer.
a. What are some of the things that you have left behind in order to maintain a godly reputation?
2. The desire for a good name should prompt us as believers to choose veracity. In Acts 6:3, I Timothy 3:7 and 5:10 we see what was expected of early church leaders, overseers and widows.
a. Reputations are built through lifestyle. Think of someone whose life is an inspiration to you. Write them a note today thanking them for the reputation that gives you a model to follow.
B. Building a lifestyle of veracity takes time. Take a moment to read Micah 6:8. My version says, “He has told you…”, but others say, “He has shown you…” “Shown” implies telling by way of example2. God doesn’t just expect us to catch the concept of living out truth in all aspects of our lives, He shows us. He lived it through the person of Jesus Christ. He gives us examples of it in His Word, in history, and through fellow believers. My son studied biology for science last year. The hands-on dissecting made all those strange vocabulary words come to life and make sense. Through doing biology labs he saw what the words meant.
1. What picture or example has God recently shown you to help you rethink and rework some habits in your life?
C. Time seems to have moved rapidly since the end of Esther Chapter 5. Scripture indicates that the building of the gallows, the sleepless-night discovery, the parade, the second banquet, the revelation and the execution of Haman likely happened within a 48-hour period. But there isn’t much time to waste, so Esther once again approaches the king on behalf of her people.
1. Last week we studied Esther’s diplomatic abilities. Her years of training and living in the palace were being put to good use. It’s the attention to personal motives, purposing to honor yet confront that builds a reputation as a wise, persuasive communicator.
a. Read Acts 17:4, 19:8, 28:23; II Corinthians 5:11. From these verses, what should be our main focus as persuasive, Christian communicators?
b. Just like Esther, we don’t have much time to waste. Read II Timothy 4:1-5.
c. How honest and truthful is your witness? What kinds of things in your life might actually sabotage God’s work through you? Pray and ask God to show you the areas where you haven’t chosen veracity that are potentially damaging your testimony.
DAYS THREE AND FOUR
A. Proverbs 25:15 states, “By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.” Esther continued in her persistence that something more be done.
1. Read Esther 8:7-14. The law of the Medes and Persians was a tricky thing. Once an edict was put into effect, nothing could change it, not even a word from the King. (Daniel 6:15)
a. One commentator put it right when he said that this notion of a king’s edicts standing forever was ridiculous. Ahasuerus was basically sanctioning civil war between Jews and everyone else – all within his authority yet against his authority.3 Only God’s Word is perfect and will stand forever.
b. Read Proverbs 26:5, 12, 28:11; Isaiah 5:21; Jeremiah 8:8-9 with the idea that men often have a false pretence of wisdom. Veracity, an invariable expression of truth in our lives, must have Truth as its foundation. In what way might you be “wise in your own eyes”?
2. It’s interesting to note the parallels between Esther 3:12-15 and 8:9-14.
a. What are the similarities between the two edicts? What are the differences?
b. The way God outwits man is amazing and sometimes even funny. Which of the differences between the edicts makes you smile?
B. The writing of this second edict must have been meticulous, but quickly inspired. Haman had been seething in his plot for weeks – maybe even months. Mordecai, on the other hand, had days, possibly hours to write this law. We just get a summary overview of what the law actually said. But it is enough to get the idea – a simple point-for-point rebuttal to the first edict.
1. Some things don’t require much thought and should be quickly inspired decisions. Should I loose my temper or should I gently lay out the facts? Should I do my work or surf the Internet? Should I do what I’ve committed to do or take a “mental health day”? Choosing veracity is often no more than simply refuting point-by-point wrong options.
2. Read Galatians 5:16-17, 24-25 and 6:8-9. What changes do you need to make in order for your “walk by the Spirit” to become more habitually truthful?
C. Years ago, the couples in our Sunday school class took up the challenge to write family covenants stating our commitment to serve God as young families. It outlined who we were in Christ and how we planned to set ourselves apart for His service. You know what was amazing? No two of them were alike. We all used different Scriptures. Every family’s focus and wording was unique.
1. Read through Deuteronomy 10:12-21. In this charge from Moses, the children of Israel are given a picture of a life of veracity that God desires for them to imitate.
2. Take some time to write for yourself a covenant – whether you are the mother of a large family, newlywed, an empty-nester, or single. Pray that God will give you specific verses and wording, expressing commitment to His unique work in the world through you.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, “In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider God has made one as well as the other.” This verse reminds me that the darker and stormier the night, the brighter and more beautiful the next morning will seem. Choosing veracity means letting God be God in both.
A. Read Esther 8:15-17. The morning is dawning for Mordecai, Esther and the Jews of the realm. As the climax to this chapter, Mordecai is given a large crown, garments of fine linen, and royal robes of blue and white – the colors of the modern-day Israeli flag. His change of raiment is a glorious picture of God’s provision for His people. The text says that the capital of Susa rejoiced and that there was “light and gladness and joy and honor” for the Jews.
1. Read Isaiah 12. This may not have been a text read or sung in the Jewish quarters during that day the edict was announced, but it gives a taste of celebration, thanksgiving and salvation. In this hymn of praise we find definitive deeds of veracity.
a. Look for verbs that are in the here and now, such as, “I will,” and “make known.” Underline all the things we should be doing habitually, according to this passage.
2. For me, I loved the phrase, “joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3) God gave me incredible resources when I became His child. I often forget them in the midst of the everyday crush and chaos. In choosing veracity this week, I will make it a habit to “joyously draw” from His refreshing, strengthening promises.
a. Choose one verb phrase from Isaiah 12 to be your focus this week.
B. This chapter ends on a very interesting note. Because of these events, many people throughout the land chose to become Jews. This meant turning from their false religions – which were in many cases part of their culture – submitting to circumcision, and aligning themselves with the One true God. As Matthew Henry put it, “It is folly to think of contending with the God of Israel, and therefore it is wisdom to think of submitting to him.”4
Just as is true with children, you can be part of a family but not on-board with what your family stands for. It’s called rebellion. When choosing veracity, there can be no rebellion. Striving for an invariable expression of truth means we are unwavering in what’s required by our Father.
Looking at the list I made regarding Mark’s veracity, I noticed that they were all focused on the small things. It’s a little bit like cutting with a laser. It’s precise and meticulous. Veracity forces us to focus on minutia – often easily overlooked by Christians who are touted as having it all together.
My daughter and I are reading aloud a Louisa May Alcott book which had the perfect quotation to sum up this week’s lesson – “… it is the small temptations which undermine integrity, unless we watch and pray, and never think them too trivial to be resisted.”5 Think small. Choose veracity.
1. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Complete and Unabridged in 6 Volumes (Hendrickson Publisher, 1991) Ecclesiastes 7.
2. Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for nagad (Strong’s 05046)“. (www.blueletterbible.org, 1996-2008) 1 Oct 2008.
3. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Complete and Unabridged in 6 Volumes (Hendrickson Publisher, 1991) Esther 8.
5. Louisa May Alcott, Rose in Bloom (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951). pp 190, 192.
About the author
Dee Dawson is a journalist by training, a former newspaper feature writer by trade, and a home school mom of nearly two decades by choice – a job which recently came to an end due to the successful graduation of her second and last child. She attends Calvary Bible Church where she’s been involved in the music department as pianist for more than 25 years. As part of her involvement in her church’s women’s ministries, she developed and taught a 9-week class on writing called “Inscribe.” She’s written Bible study guides for children on Daniel and Acts to accompany adult studies taught at Calvary Bible. She’s also written two other Bible studies for Thrive’s Weekly Word: one on Esther, and one on James and Jude. Her engineer husband, Mark, has been her main editor and biggest fan for 25 years. They live in Bakersfield, Calif. USA.View all articles by: Dee Dawson
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