Esther 2015: Day 12

An Exact Mercy

by

Today's Text: Esther 9:1-19, Psalm 34:1-10

Text: Esther 9:1-19, Psalm 34:1-10

on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.”
– Esther 9:1b, ESV

Preschool Sunday school teachers are my heroes. If you’ve ever tried to explain the Gospel to a child, you know why. Relaying the greatest story to the next generation is such a privilege! But it can also be surprisingly… tricky. Suddenly you are asked to define every single word. The “Christianese” we’ve become comfortable using is new information to little ears, and platitudes or generalities aren’t allowed. Without missing a beat, their little voices demand, “But what IS that?”

What is sin? What is grace? Who is God? What is forgiveness? (That last one is much easier when the child in question has a sibling or BFF, am I right?)

We grownups find comfort in the familiar, so it’s natural that we’d slip into generalizations— repeating words and phrases though our hearts may have what they really mean.

Mercy runs a broad spectrum of meaning in our day-to-day—from the whispered prayer of “have mercy” when we see the latest tragedy on the news, to the flippant, Uncle Jesse-style “have mercy” when we spy an amazing piece of 7-layer chocolate cheesecake. (Any “Full House” fans in the house? That’s 90’s sitcom for you younguns among us.)

But mercy—true mercy—has a definition. It is unmerited kindness and help for the desperate.

Mercy is not an emotion or general attitude toward a person or situation—mercy is action. It is bringing relief, giving help, offering a much needed exhale to the soul who’s anxiously holding her breath.

When we are desperate for rescue from the deepest, darkest pit, suddenly the concept of mercy doesn’t feel so vague. In the context of desperation, mercy is specific, necessary, vital. Mercy has a face, a voice—mercy has hands and a name.

At this point in Esther’s story, her people are there at the bottom of the pit. They stand facing death—utter and brutal annihilation. But Scripture tells us that on the very day when they are to be destroyed—at that exact moment—they receive mercy. They are rescued.

The victims become the victorious. Their day of destruction becomes a holiday.

The mercy that descended on the Jews that day is not the good-feeling kind we pray for in passing or a generality we struggle to explain to a child. No, it is vivid and tangible and real.

Friends, that mercy is the Gospel. That mercy belongs to us! It may not be the most kid-friendly version—to say we’ve been snatched from the hands of death, saved from an enemy who wants to destroy us—but it’s the true version.

From the everyday mercies we can see—finding the exact dollar amount needed for the week’s groceries in our account, or seeing a crystal-clear scan where a mass of fear used to be—to the millions of mercies we’ll never know this side of Glory… The merciful God of Esther is the merciful God of you and me.

He is the God who descended to take on our flesh, who rescued us when nothing else could (John 1:14).
He is the God of grace and deliverance, bringing unmerited kindness to sinners in ways so specific our hearts could not handle the full sight of it (Lamentations 3:22-23).

God has turned our destruction into a holiday! May we worship Him with renewed awe and thanksgiving, giving Him back the life He has saved.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
- Psalm 34:4, HCSB

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  • Thank you God for defining mercy to the utmost extent. How can we know mercy in it’s fullness if we do no know the cross? Esther is just a precursor to that, and that is saving an entire nation. Jesus to the Jews first and also to the gentiles like me. The definition is so rich and it’s good to take moments like in todays SRT to remember the definition of mercy. We are saying quite a lot when we say that one word. With praise and thanksgiving.

  • Just as some feedback, when such intense verses (full of murder seemingly endorsed by God) are part of the reading, it would be good to explain this in the reading; nut it out a bit. I scrolled up in this comments section and found someone who was able to explain it and put it into perspective but it was immensely frustrating that the reading didn’t even touch on it. It was all “happy days” but all I could think about was the 75000+ murders at the hands of God’s people, and to not address that at all is exactly where so many people have issues with Christianity, the lah-dee-dah overlooking of these events, seemingly picking and choosing.

  • Leonetta

    What struck me in this passage was the violence and destruction that took place.. It seems easy to take a simple rosy-view of the mercy that the Jews experienced, but what does this say about the violence they then enacted. Killing many innocent people and Queen Esther request to skewer Hamans sons AFTER they were already dead… Is this retribution necessary to experience Gods mercy? Passages like this make me grateful for the Gospel. I struggle to understand the violence that God endorses and allows in the OT

    • Beth

      These were not innocent people. They were enemies of God and enemies of the Jews, people that wanted to kill they Jews. They were given nine months, from the time Haman was killed till the time the law came into effect, but they did not repent; they still wanted to annihilate all the Jews, such was their hatred. So the Jews were allowed to defend themselves with the second law that Modacia wrote.

  • We are so undeserving to have such a merciful Father! Thank you, Lord!

  • Mercy is not an emotion or general attitude toward a person or situation—mercy is action. It is bringing relief, giving help, offering a much needed exhale to the soul who’s anxiously holding her breath. Yesssssss

  • I am greatful for this. For God to be merciful toward us I am glad I read this and needed to

  • Perfect devotional. Exactly what I needed at this time. What are the odds that this is the devotional I read. God knows our hearts and he answers prayers. I’m so thankful for his mercy and grace. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

  • Danya Ho

    I am a bit behind in the Ester study but what a book! I have never imagined so !many rich lessons could emanate from Ester. Today's study on mercy is such a great reminder of how our loving saviour sacrificed his own life to bring a bridge of relationship between God and mankind in genera
    And me in particular . oh the blood of the Lamb that washes white as snow.. Thank you Lord for your unwavering mercy …an therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace in times of news. Hebrews 4:16

  • Amanda Wojcik

    I have seen so many times in my life and in others around me that God will show up at the exact moment you need him. Never early, never late. He want us to fully rely on Him. And trust that He is our hero that shows up at just the right moment.

  • Kasey Tuggle

    Amen! It’s awesome how God turns our messes into a message!! Romans 8:28

  • Kristin McNair

    I’m so encouraged by this devotion today! Still waiting on the Lord and trusting him for the mercies of answering my prayers and fears with grace!

  • Antimony

    This. “Mercy … is bringing relief, giving help, offering a much needed exhale to the soul who’s anxiously holding her breath. When we are desperate for rescue from the deepest, darkest pit, suddenly the concept of mercy doesn’t feel so vague. In the context of desperation, mercy is specific, necessary, vital”. This idea of “a soul who’s anxiously holding her breath”. Will I be accepted? Can/will God forgive me? Will He show mercy? Can He possibly love me? Waiting and waiting. Waiting for a sign. A feeling. But is that ok? Or do I just need to trust? To believe?

  • Sarah Keller

    I love that this chapter in Esther specifically states "the reverse occurred". In the Christian life, there are so many times when the exact opposite of what "should have" or "could have" happened, happens. Sometimes it's obvious, and sometimes it's subtle. But His mercy abounds, every day, in so many ways. And it challenges me to see EVERYTHING with totally new eyes- His eyes, through the lens of His word- to the best of my imperfect ability. Praise God for His goodness! I'm sure we can't even grasp the half of it, yet we witness it time and time again!

  • Hesaved83

    Praise the Lord for God’s mercy and grace!!! We (believers) are the Jews in this story that God saved from the clutches of death & one day we will celebrate at the Great Lord’s Supper, amen! Can’t wait to see & celebrate with all of you at the feast; have a blessed weekend!!! :)

  • God has turned our destruction into a holiday!

    I had never heard it put quite this way before, and it makes my heart leap for joy!
    Amen, yes He has!! Glory to God!!!

  • That is a simple yet profound truth. May we be merciful to others in His name. Wishing you all a wonderful day!

  • Jesus Christ IS mercy, the Lord’s mercy to US.

  • I have never read Esther before but I find myself pulled in deep to her story. And I am being brought to my knees with revelation of God's Mercy first hand. Thank you for your insight today. I have never heard Mercy defined so well, with such heart gripping meaning. Oh and you made me giggle with the Uncle Jesse reference! I still love watching that show and my kids love it too : )

    Have a Blessed, Merciful day everyone!

  • Veronika Rae

    I needed this today. God is sooo loving. He takes are greatest fears and saves us, so we have nothing to fear but Him! And life with Him is joy!

  • I like that you said mercy is an action. It is real and it is something done to us and something we should be doing to others. God calls us to show mercy to others. I pray that today I can be merciful to others.

  • Just love that idea – thanks to Jesus, one day what would have been a day of destruction and wrath will now be an invitation to a great heavenly feast!!! So wonderful to see God saving the Jews here through His mercy, so they would live on as his chosen people and one day, would be the nation the Messiah came from. :)

  • M.Nicole

    "But mercy—true mercy—has a definition. It is unmerited kindness and help for the desperate. Mercy is not an emotion or general attitude toward a person or situation—mercy is action. It is bringing relief, giving help, offering a much needed exhale to the soul who’s anxiously holding her breath."

    These 2 sentences just gave me an entirely new perspective on mercy. Had never really thought deeply about it until this devotional. Mercy is action. My prayer now is to recognize the mercy God has given me through his son Jesus Christ and to be active in the mercy I show/provide others.

    Amen to this sis, amen!

  • Laura Jernigan

    Talking about explaining things to children, you realize that every thing is new to them. On the way to take my daughter to her preschool this morning (She’s 3) this was our convo:
    Ashley: Who built the trees?
    Me: God did.
    Ashley: Well, that was sweet! I love God!

    Such a simple thing of beauty from our amazing God. He is so good!!

  • Mercy, Grace. And Deliverance!! Happy Friday!!

  • The innocent questioning “why” of my preschooler brings me to tears at times because truly I can’t think that much! Right??
    But the power of a “why” for something an adult takes as truth makes me stop to consider if that why is truly reality.
    My preschooler asks tough questions but his faith is pure and innocent. Without fear of popular opinion like his mamas may be at times!
    Each day God blesses me with mercy that is undeserved – and for that I rejoice in a chance to start over!
    Thank you SRT team – these devotional a have been life changing!

  • I have a huge problem with today's reading (I had it for a long time). I can see the point of God saving His people and grace towards us…but this text also talks about thousands who were murdered. I know it says they were enemies, but still… I just find it almost impossible to praise God for being good to one group of people, when another suffered. When I read it, it all feels kind of bitter, seeing that the same God who is merciful and kind is also… How to say it, hateful? Uncaring?
    If you have any explanation I would be glad to read it!

    • Cayley

      The Jews were acting in self-defense. They were authorized to “protect” themselves, since many people seem to still want to murder the Jews. The fact that they didn’t take the plunder shows that this wasn’t a vicious attack by the Jews, but instead an act of self-preservation. “They killed 75,000 of THOSE WHO HATED THEM” (9:16). Not just 75,000 innocents, but enemies who wanted them dead.

      • Bethanie

        Thanks for explaining this. I also had an uncomfortable feeling when reading this passage, like Lenka. I was wondering what the big deal was about the Jews not taking the plunder. It makes more sense now. I still don’t feel great when I read about so many thousands of people getting killed, but I remember I have to trust God. And, I also wonder how I would feel if I had been a Jew then, or now. I’m sure feeling some connection with the people who were under attack would give me more understanding, rather than just being an outside observer.

      • Sophie

        Thank you for the explanation, I was deeply troubled by this passage too and then frustrated that it was just danced around in the devotion.

    • Elizabeth S

      Great remarks Cayley and Bethanie and question, Lenka. One vision of this that came to mind would be good versus evil and goodness overcoming. I agree, I felt similarly but this interpretation allows me to look over the specifics of the act of murder, which, anyone can agree, if not the way of our Lord Jesus, as see that God has blessed His people, us, and is allowing his goodness to overcome the evil (haters aka Haman and the Agites) in our life.

    • Amy Gaines

      Lenka, I have similar thoughts, but no real explanation. I guess the one thought I keep coming back to is that those living in this time were under the Law, and the world was very different. Instead of the option to follow Christ, folks were deemed righteous through living out the law. Which would mean that those outside the Law (like the enemies of the Jews in Esther) were enemies of God, and so God allowed this event to happen. I’m not sure if that even makes sense… The death and destruction of the Old Testament is difficult for me to come to terms with, too.

    • ClaireB

      Lanka, it sits hard with me as well because I hear self defense but the it continued. And the purpose of hanging the sons. This is why the Old Testament looses me at times

    • Kelcie

      This really bothered me too. It seems like, though, the "human life" isn't the end-all-be-all for God, like we tend to treat it. God's glory is the most important thing. Many lives were sacrificed throughout the course of time to create a bigger picture that lifts God up. Good always wins and the picture is always beautiful. Some of the little pieces, though, aren't.

      • Kelcie

        Also, I think about how we would feel now if all members of ISIS across the globe were murdered. We would be happy and feel like goodness was prevailing and destroying evil. Maybe it's kind of the same… Sometimes evil needs to be stopped before it spreads farther and permeates everywhere… I don't know. Difficult concepts.

  • Vanessa Davis

    But SMC isn’t that the point? We, none of us Deserve mercy. We all Deserve death. But by the grace of God, He has shown us mercy. I praise God every day that God does not give me what I deserve but shows me mercy everyday! “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. (‭Psalms‬ ‭147‬:‭11‬ NKJV)

  • The Ps. 34:8 verse popped out at me, "Oh, taste and see that a the LORD is good!
    I can only taste if I am feasting on His Word. So thankful, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword"…Heb. 4:12

    And are not these verses just filled with His mercy–
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
    Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
    The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

    Yes, I am deeply loved, and I need to trust and remember that I lack no good thing–EVER!

    • Maria

      ‘I can only taste if I am feasting on His word!’ Love this

    • Christina D.

      I agree with Maria-I can only taste if I am feasting on the Word! Thank you for this!

  • I am thankful for God’s mercy…at just the right time. But we’re there really at least 800 (+10 sons of Haman) on those 2 days who didn’t deserve mercy, and deserved death instead? This is one of the questions the Old Testament raises in my heart–it certainly isn’t the character of Jesus (love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you, turn the other cheek…). I know God is sovereign, but it keeps me questioning.

    Why do I, then, deserve mercy and not death?

    • Anna

      This is always a struggle for me, too, SMC! Sometimes when I question I can feel God in my spirit saying, "I have the answers, and they are the right ones, and one day, not yet, you may understand. But I also don't have to explain it to you." Not the easiest answer to hear, but one I am still thankful for!

  • mamateach4-Cindy

    This is my first time posting but I have been reading with you lovely ladies since Dec.Thank you for this study today. It caused me to really focus on the difference between mercy and grace. It is so easy to use familiar Christian terms, especially if you have been a Christian for a long time, and to forget the depth of their meaning. Reading Esther again has been such a blessing.

    Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. Heb4:16

  • Tammy Provins

    Mercy is action…yes! God is our example of mercy and we should "follow" him. Saved and snatched from our enemy. Thank you for this study and all the hard work you ladies put into bringing us the word each day. Have a beautiful weekend!

  • thelittlelaurents

    "Mercy is not an emotion or general attitude toward a person or situation—mercy is action." So true!

  • ‘On the very day…’GOD. Esther 9:1b
    HE is never late. This truth went down deep today. ❤️ Loved Lamentations verses too. 3:19+ Our God sees;3:50, Our God hears 3:56,Our God speaks 3:57, Our God fights for us 3:64. I ( we) are not alone. God’s mercy is ‘action’ -powerful truth Amanda. I’ve never thought of it like that before . TY

    • Maria

      ^Mercy’It is a Much Needed exhale to the soul…’

      Yep, that just happened. ❤️

  • Candacejo

    Sometimes you just have a bad day and Mercy steps in.

    Mercy: It’s where you DO NOT get what you really should have gotten, what you really did deserve.
    Grace: Grace is when you DO receive the good things that you didn’t deserve!

    We deserve judgment (even on this 13th day of the month, just like in Esther's story we read today! Cool timing!) But we are given Mercy instead. His mercies are NEW every morning!! Great is thy faithfulness!

    So thankful that mercy covers the mistakes that come out of my mouth and daily infusing of His spirit will keep me the next time it wants to pop open…

    Thankful for you ladies today and for the unity in our CommUNITY. ♥

    • Frances

      I love how you put that….sometimes you just have a bad day and Mercy steps in!
      Praise to the God of Love and Mercy!!

  • “He delivers me from all my fears” // Psalm 34:1-10

  • "4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
    5 Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed. "

    Oh Lord, I want to be radiant with Your glory. Show me how to keeps my eyes on You in all circumstances.

  • debbates

    What a beautiful and accurate description of mercy…."snatched from the hands of death, saved from an enemy who wants to destroy us"…Wow!

  • Mercy is an action. Looking back over instances in my life, I can see clearly where God's Mercy rescued me. Thank you for this time to reflect on the times that His Mercy was and is so evident in my life. Praise God.

    • Kylee

      So true Gayle! When I look to the instances in my life where His mercy poured out for me I am in shock! & suddenly my current situation seems like NOTHING for our God.

    • Elizabeth S

      Amen, Amen!!!

  • Today's study is wonderful! It made me think of something I heard in last Sunday's service: fear and worry are not from God. What we're afraid of, those things we let trip us up and get in the way of truly living for Him, the things we let overshadow His sacrifice, are not from God. They are of this world, and if we release them to Him, his mercy is there waiting for us. What a message of hope!

  • “Any “Full House” fans in the house?” Of course!!! Haha… Amanda, that made me smile… Thanks! And thank you for the reminder that mercy is real!

  • Kelly_Smith

    Mercy if for the desperate. When everything is going well, it's easy to lose sight of our true desperation. And when things are bad and the desperation threatens to swallow us up, we wonder if God's mercy is there. God's mercy is so deep, so wide. It is poured out on us, even when we don't realize we need it. It is present in every situation, even when we can't find it. Amanda, thank you for this eloquent description of this precious word that gets lost too easy.

  • I love this reminder that mercy is active and real – and not just a platitude. God turns our destruction day into a holiday. Praise Him!

  • "He is the God of grace and deliverance, bringing unmerited kindness to sinners in ways so specific our hearts could not handle the full sight of it."

    This entire devotional is full of such beauty regards Mercy. Mercy, a genuine understanding of it, is overwhelming, incredibly so. But to realize there are so many mercies we do not know even more so. It makes me think to something I read eons ago. It spoke of the car accidents we will never know we missed, the ways death was cheated because of an unlikely occurrence, the difference a month, a minute, even seconds can make. All the mercies we can't see, but still receive the benefits of….that unmerited kindness.

    I just don't have adequate words for the kindness my King, my Father, my Savior has shown me. My heart beats with a profound gratitude and natural indebtedness to God, the only thing I can do is make my life a tribute to Him. It may not be like any fine piece of art or scultping … it's has it's cracks, it's errs, but because of Unmerited Kindness, God has assured me that He can use it and not only can He use my life, He finds pleasures in it. Like the first heart my son ever drew, in all it's awkwardness, it hangs proudly on our fridge and I just smile with love and gratitude over my son's work. He drew that pointy little, arrow pierced heart, walked in to me and said, "Momma, this is for you because I love you". THAT is all I want my life to eek. It's really that simple. Every passing moment I want to gift to God because I love Him. I want my entire being to say "My King, my father *this* is for you because I love you". ~ B

  • Oh today’s study is good. God’s mercy abounds in ways we can’t see all the time or maybe only when we reflect back. The challenge for me this morning is to look back and see God’s mercy at work over the last day, week, month. We are so blessed and yet it is so easy to let it pass us by!

    • Elizabeth S

      Good point Claire, similar to what we were saying earlier this week about how important it is for us to look back into the 'chronicles' as King Xerxes did, which is when he found the favor of Mordecai. Looking back on Gods work in our lives allows to be even more thankful as we can see his love for us at work. Sometimes we get so caught up on worrying about the future, but when we reminisce, its easily apparent to see His perfect plan in action. Blessings on you, and all of us, as we aim to reflect on His goodness, mercies and grace that are never ending!

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