Airbrushing God: A Devotion on the Book of Esther

Airbrushing God: A Devotion on the Book of Esther

DAY 1 OF 7

So the Bible has a princess movie script. It’s definitely more Pixar’s Brave than your classic Snow White or Cinderella, and it has an attractive plot line:

“The all-powerful Persian king hand picks a Jewish orphan who goes from rags to riches. The now insta-perfect princess puts her royal position in jeopardy when she discovers a conspiracy against her people. She courageously owns her true identity and leverages the power of the empire to strike back and save her nation.”

Only the story is not suitable for kids, and the animation studios won’t touch it. Esther is essentially trafficked into sex work, and there are many disturbing side plots and grisly details. The early narrative is tough reading as we encounter male vanity, though King Xerxes himself isn’t the tyrant he is often depicted as. He was likely in his early 30s with wealth that is hard to overstate. He ruled with absolute power from India to Ethiopia – imagine trying to merge just two nations between those today – and had a personal bodyguard of 10,000 masked “immortals.” Cool. The book opens with a 6-month long ego-trip and a feast for around 15,000 people, followed by a banquet for all in the city of Susa, rich and poor. So far, so good. He was the king, after all, and had blessed his people.

In high spirits, surrounded by dignitaries and military leaders, Xerxes commands that his trophy wife, Vashti, be brought in for their voyeuristic pleasure. In full knowledge of the implications, she refuses to be humiliated and treated as a concubine.

The man who commanded an entire empire could not force a woman in his own palace to obey him. The domestic turns into state legislation to ensure women know their place. Ironically, by issuing the decree in every language, Xerxes ensured the whole empire heard the story of female power and resistance.

Check out today's reading (Esther 1:15-20), and ask yourself the following question:

Where do you see pride reveal itself in your life? Take a moment to bring it in full submission before God, who “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Esther’s prologue plunges us into a world so far removed from our own – yet many of the themes resonate today. Pride and saving face. The value of human beings. Power and how to use it. The influence of alcohol. Voyeurism. Resistance. The Bible speaks powerfully into our contexts and shows us how to really live.

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Airbrushing God: A Devotion on the Book of Esther

The Bible has a princess movie script, but it's not your classic Cinderella story. Esther tells of an orphan, trafficked into sex work, who goes from rags to riches. This Insta-perfect princess puts herself in jeopardy a...

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