Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times from Nov. 30-Dec. 3 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Esther 5:1-8 (ESV)
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” 5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. 6 And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 7 Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.
Some might question: “Esther, should you be hosting back-to-back dinner parties when life and death of hundreds and thousands of your people is hanging in the balance?” To fault Esther for her alleged indifference is no different than questioning the sanity of King Solomon for ordering that the baby in dispute, between two women claiming to be his mother, be cut in two so that each could have half (1 Kings 3:24). Rest assured that Esther was not only valiant (“If I perish, I perish”), but she was also wise, much like Solomon who knew that the real mother would rather lose the baby than let him be sawed in two.
Esther knew that if you’re going to ask someone for a favor, especially the one with the power to put you to death at the slightest whim (4:11), you “butter him up” first! While that slang doesn’t necessarily have a nice ring to it, if the goal is to save innocent lives, why stop at one dinner party? Esther, being unsure of how the king would respond to her request to save the Jews, tried to move his heart by first satisfying his stomach—and she spared no expenses in providing the most sumptuous feast. She had Haman be present so that if and when the king saw her way, the judgment against the man who plotted genocide against her people would be immediate and swift.
Wisdom is so valued by Solomon that he, under the Spirit’s inspiration, tells us to obtain it from all sources, including insects: “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Prov. 6:6-8). Evidently, one key component to being wise is anticipation. Thus, you don’t spend all you earn at once; instead, you save some of it for a rainy day and old age.
Also, learn this from Esther: If you’re asking someone to do you a favor, starting with an appreciative tone always helps. And if you need to correct someone, use a magnifying glass to find something positive to share first, before reprimanding the person.
Jesus, I exalt You this morning because You are my Lord and Savior. In Your infinite wisdom, You created the world (Prov. 8) in which I live. Please impart to me Your wisdom so that I may live prudently in this world with the hopes that people will desire You through how I live. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 8
Lunch Break Study
Read James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Proverbs 4:7-8: The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her;
Proverbs 19:20: Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Proverbs 23:4 (NIV 1984): Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint; 9:8-9a: Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wider still . . .
Questions to Consider
- We have all seen smart and powerful people make stupid mistakes that eventually cost their careers (e.g., former New York governor, Elliot Spitzer). Based on James 1:5 and Proverbs 4:7-8, how would you appraise the importance of wisdom?
- What is one source of gaining wisdom? Conversely, what is one attitude that will ensure that we stay unwise?
- What are some ways we can be wise in our everyday lives?
- Without wisdom, we can lose all that we have ever worked for in a moment’s notice. Actually, the downward spiral was in the works for a time before the house of cards (a.k.a., unwise life) tumble down to the ground. Wisdom can keep that from happening.
- Taking the advice of those who have travelled the same road that we are about to take. This indicates that we are at least aware of our own lack and inadequacy. Conversely, “I-already-know-it-all” attitude ensures that we’ll make the same mistakes that others have made.
- Regarding accumulating wealth: we will show restraint, thus leaving time for pursuing other things like spiritual life, family, exercise, etc; regarding taking advice: we will take it instead of refusing it.
In evaluating today, was it a day that was lived out in wisdom? What made it so? How did the Spirit help you in that regard? Perhaps, it wasn’t: what could you have said or done differently? Ask the Lord to give you wisdom for tomorrow?