This 12-part series takes a new look at an old story and finds fresh words of courage, faith, and challenge for today’s Church. It is based on Carol Bechtel’s commentary on Esther in the Interpretation series (Westminster John Knox, 2002).
The Power of the Written Word
Read Esther 9-10
[These days were] turned for them from sorrow into gladness…. (Esther 9:22, NRSV)
Of all the chapters of Esther, these are most difficult. On the one hand, we are relieved that the dreaded day is turned from sorrow into gladness. On the other hand, it’s hard to get past the body count, and the fact that Esther seems to have turned a bit bloodthirsty. She asks, after all, for a second day to “do according to this day’s edict.”
Remember, however, that Esther and Mordecai had tried to avoid all this carnage by having the first edict revoked. Remember as well, that the second edict allowed only for self-defense, so no one would have died if the Persians had not attacked. The fact that so many died on the second day signifies that there were still enemies out there waiting for their chance.
Of all the things we can learn from the book of Esther, surely one of the most important is that the written word is a powerful force and can be used for good or evil. The book ends with Esther and Mordecai sending letters encouraging the people to celebrate their deliverance by delivering others, making the holidays “days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.”
Prayer: Help us, gracious God, to read and heed your Word, and to give as generously as we have received.