Day 186 – July 5, 2022

Esther 1, 2; Psalm 6; Proverbs 1:16–19; Acts 13:1–25

Esther 1, 2

Introduction: Mordecai’s Prophetic Dream

1a In the second year of the reign of the great King Artaxerxes, on the first day of Nisan, Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, had a dream. 1b He was a Jewish man living in the city of Susa, a great man who served in the court of the king. 1c He was from the captives Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had deported from Jerusalem with Jechoniah the king of Judah. 1d And this was his dream:

Behold, there was noise and tumult, thunder and earthquake—confusion on the earth. 1e Two great dragons came forth, both ready for combat. A great roar came forth from them, 1f and at the sound of them, every nation prepared to wage war against the nation of the just. 1g And indeed, it was a day of gloom and of darkness, tribulation and anguish, oppression and great confusion upon the earth. 1h The entire upright nation was troubled, fearing the evils against them; they were prepared to perish, and they cried out to God. 1i And at their cry there came forth, as it were from a small spring, a great river having abundant water. 1j There was light, and the sun rose, and the lowly were exalted, and they devoured the esteemed.

1k Mordecai, who had seen this vision and what God was planning to do, awoke. 1l He kept it in his heart and wished to ponder it until night.

A Plot against the King

1m Then Mordecai rested in the courtyard with Gabatha and Tharra, the king’s two eunuchs who guarded the courtyard. 1n He overheard their words and considered their anxieties, and he realized they were preparing to lay hands upon the king, and he informed the king about them. 1o Then the king interrogated the two eunuchs, and they confessed and were led away to be executed. 1p The king made a memorandum of these matters, and Mordecai also wrote about these matters. 1q And the king commanded Mordecai to serve in the court, and he gave him gifts for this service. 1r But Haman, the son of Hamadatha the Agagthite, was held in high honor before the king, and he sought for ways to bring harm to Mordecai and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.

  King Artaxerxes’ Banquet

1 It came to pass, after these matters, in the days of Artaxerxes (this is the same Artaxerxes who reigned over the hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia), 2 in the days when King Artaxerxes sat on the throne in the city of Susa, 3 that in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for his friends and the rest of the nations, and for the nobles of the Persians and the Medes and the chiefs of the satraps. 4 And after these things, that is after he had displayed the wealth of his kingdom and the glory of the joy of his riches for one hundred eighty days, 5 when the days of the celebration were completed, the king set forth a banquet in the court of the king’s palace for six days for the people living in the city. 6 The courtyard was adorned with fine white linen curtains stretched out on cords of purple and fastened to square gold and silver studs, on pillars of marble and stone. And the couches were of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of emerald stone, mother of pearl, and marble, and transparent coverings variously adorned with colorful flowers and encircled with embroidered roses. 7 There were gold and silver cups, and a ruby goblet set out, worth thirty thousand talents, and there was an abundance of sweet wine, which the king himself drank. 8 Now this banquet was not in keeping with established law; but this is what the king desired, and he ordered all the stewards of his household, those of his men, to do his will. 9 Queen Vashti also provided a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Artaxerxes.

Queen Vashti Dishonors the King

10 Now on the seventh day, the king was merry and told Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas—the seven eunuchs, the servants of King Artaxerxes— 11 to bring the queen before him, to enthrone her and to place the royal crown upon her, to show her beauty to the rulers and the nations, for she was beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti did not heed his words and refused to come with the eunuchs. The king was distressed and angry.

13 The king said to his friends, “Thus has Vashti spoken; follow the law and justice concerning this.” 14 And Arkesaios, Sarsathaios and Memucan, the nobles of the Persians and Medes, those near to the king and first in rank by the king, went to him. 15 They reported to him what according to the laws was to be done to the queen Vashti, because she did not do as commanded by King Artaxerxes by way of the eunuchs. 16 And Memucan said to the king and the princes, “Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the king’s rulers and nobles.” 17 He reported the words of the queen, and how she contradicted the king, and how she disobeyed King Artaxerxes: 18 “Thus today the royal ladies of the rulers of the Persians and the Medes, hearing the words which were spoken to the king, will dare to dishonor their husbands in the same way. 19 If it pleases the king, let him make a royal decree, and let it be written according to the laws of the Persians and the Medes, and let it not be declared otherwise, that the queen no longer come before him, and let the king give her royal position to a woman better than she. 20 And let the decree of the king, which he shall have made, be proclaimed throughout his kingdom, and thus all wives will honor their husbands, from the poor to the rich.” 21 And the word pleased the king and the nobles, and the king did just as Memucan said. 22 He then sent out to his entire kingdom, throughout the provinces, according to their own language, that husbands be feared in their own houses.

The Search for a New Queen

1 And after these words the wrath of the king subsided, and he no longer mentioned Vashti, remembering either what she had said or how he had condemned her. 2 Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king, 3 and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to the city of Susa into the women’s quarters, under the custody of the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This thing pleased the king, and he did so.

5 Now there was a Jewish man in the city of Susa whose name was Mordecai, son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, 6 who was an exile from Jerusalem, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had taken captive. 7 He had raised the daughter of Abihail, his father’s brother, and her name was Esther; and when her parents died, he brought her up to be his wife, and she was beautiful.

  Esther Chosen Queen

8 So when the king’s ordinance was heard, many young maidens were gathered together in the city of Susa, under the custody of Hegai, and Esther was brought to Hegai, the custodian of the women. 9 And the young woman pleased him and found favor in his sight. He hastened to give beauty treatments to her, and her portion, and the seven young maidens appointed to her from the palace. He himself treated her and her maidservants well in the women’s quarters. 10 But Esther did not reveal her people or her family, for Mordecai charged her not to reveal it. 11 And every day Mordecai walked about the courtyard of the women to see what would happen to Esther.

12 Now this was the time for a young woman to go in to the king, after she had completed twelve months, for thus are the days of preparation fulfilled: six months being anointed with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and beauty treatments for women. 13 After this, she goes to the king, and she shall be allowed to bring whatever she asks with her from the women’s quarters into the royal palace. 14 She enters in the evening, and towards daybreak she departs quickly to the second women’s quarters, where Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, is the guardian of the women, and she does not go in to the king again unless she should be called by name.

15 Now when the time came for Esther the daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai, to go in to the king, she neglected nothing which the king’s eunuch, the guardian of the women, commanded. Now Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. 16 So Esther went in to King Artaxerxes in the tenth month, which is Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther, and she found favor beyond all the other virgins, and he placed the queen’s crown on her. 18 And the king gave a banquet for all his friends and nobles for seven days, and he exalted the marriage feast of Esther and granted a release to those under his reign.

19 And Mordecai was serving in the courtyard. 20 Now Esther had not revealed her heritage, just as Mordecai commanded her when she was with him, which is to fear God and to keep His commandments, and Esther did not change her manner of life.

A Plot against the King

21 Now two of the king’s eunuchs, the chiefs of the bodyguards, were furious because Mordecai had been promoted, and they sought to kill King Artaxerxes. 22 And the matter was made known to Mordecai, and he informed Esther, and she made the details of the plot known to the king. 23 The king examined the two eunuchs and hanged them. The king then ordered that a record remembering the good will of Mordecai be placed in the royal library.

Psalm 6

1 For the End; in hymns, concerning the eighth; a psalm by David. 

2 O Lord, do not reprove me in Your anger, Nor discipline me in Your wrath. 

3 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled; 

4 And my soul is greatly troubled; But You, O Lord, how long? 

5 Return, O Lord, and deliver my soul. Save me because of Your mercy. 

6 For there is no remembrance of You in death; And in Hades who will give thanks to You? 

7 I am weary with my groaning; Every single night I will dampen my bed; I will drench my couch with my tears. 

8 My eye is troubled by anger; I grow old among all my enemies. 

9 Depart from me, all you workers of lawlessness; For the Lord heard the voice of my weeping; 

10 The Lord heard my supplication; The Lord received my prayer. 

11 Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled; Let them turn back and be suddenly ashamed.

Proverbs of Solomon 1

16 Do not walk in the way with them, But turn away your foot from their paths. 

17 For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood. 

18 For nets are not spread before birds for no reason, For those who participate in murder store up evils for themselves; And evil is the destruction of lawless men. 

19 These are the ways of all who accomplish lawless things, For they take away their own soul in ungodliness.

Acts 13

Antioch Sends Barnabas and Saul

1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Churches Established on Cyprus

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,

7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.

8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him

10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?

11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

The Church in Pisidia

13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.

14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.

15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”

16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:

17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it.

18 Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness.

19 And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment.

20 “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said,‘ I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ 

23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus—

24 after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’

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