Where Is God?
A natural response for anyone who reads the book of Esther is to wonder, “Where is God in this book?” It is one of only two biblical books that don’t mention God by name. (The other is the Song of Solomon.) Why the omission? While commentators and scholars have offered all kinds of explanations, the fundamental reason why God’s name does not appear may just be the simplest: because He didn’t want it there. But that leads us to an even bigger question: Why would God not want His name in Esther’s story?
Perhaps it is because God is wanting to teach us that there will be times in life when He is apparently absent, but He’s not. Charles Spurgeon writes, “Although the name of God does not occur in the Book of Esther, the Lord himself is there most conspicuously in every incident which it relates … I have seen portraits bearing the names of persons for whom they were intended, and they certainly needed them. But we have all seen others which required no name, because they were such striking likenesses that the moment you looked upon them you knew them.”
While God’s name is missing from Esther, then, His presence is supremely evident. He is at work in the refusal of the Persian queen, Vashti, to accede to her husband’s angry demands (Esther 1:12). He is at work in making the young Jewish woman who gives her name to the book, Esther, beautiful (2:7). He is at work in the sleep patterns of the king and in his reading choices (6:1). And He is at work in overruling the hatred of the king’s first minister, Haman (8:7-8, 17). Esther lived “in the days of Ahasuerus,” the mighty Persian king. But she also lived in the days of the almighty Creator God, who rules on high. And we live in those same days.
Life’s unfolding story always reveals to us that God is in the details. The book of Esther makes clear that He is present not only in the “lightning bolts” of His intervention—in the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14) or the calming of the storm (Mark 4:35-41)—but also in the humdrum of life. In the everyday events, God is working His purpose out.
Perhaps you find yourself in the midst of deep darkness and circumstances that seek to overwhelm you. If so, pray that God will help you hear His word, which promises, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV); which assures us that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28); and which calls us to “cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). When God appears to be most absent in your life, He is still at work.
Cast Your Burden on the Lord
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil1 of David.
1Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
3because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
4My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
8I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.”
9Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10Day and night they go around it
on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
do not depart from its marketplace.
12For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
13But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
14We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God's house we walked in the throng.
15Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
16But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
17Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
18He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
19God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
and do not fear God.
20My companion2 stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
21His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.
22Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
23But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.
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