Friday, September 24, 2021

The Daily Bible Readings for Friday, September 24, 2021

 
Esther becomes queen of Persia

The Daily Bible Readings
Friday, September 24, 2021
Psalm 124; Esther 2:1-23; Acts 12:20-25
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Introduction
In today’s lectionary readings, the psalm is all about depending on God. The psalm points entirely to God and his help, and there is no stealing the glory for oneself. Our reading in Esther is intended to highlight the working of the Providence of God in the most pagan-dominated setting imaginable as Esther is selected as queen of Persia. Our reading in Acts accounts for Herod’s death after he fails to give glory to God. Our verse of the day is the fundamental message of the book of Hebrews.

Today’s Verse of the Day:
Hebrews 10:35-36

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
In order to get you off track, Satan wants to get you to doubt your eternal security in Christ and His faithfulness to fulfill His promises. Since he could not stop you from being saved, he will try to prevent you from doing God’s will and receiving your reward. Don’t let him. Be faithful to the Lord because obedience to Him always brings blessing.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Psalter

Psalm 124
Escaped from the Snare of the Fowler


1 If the Lord had not been on our side—
     let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
     when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
     when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
     the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
     would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the Lord,
     who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
     from the fowler’s snare;
  the snare has been broken,
     and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
     the Maker of heaven and earth.


Commentary
Verses 1-5: God suffers the enemies of his people sometimes to prevail very far against them, that his power may be seen the more in their deliverance. Happy the people whose God is Jehovah, a God all-sufficient. Besides applying this to any particular deliverance wrought in our days and the ancient times, we should have in our thoughts the great work of redemption by Jesus Christ, by which believers were rescued from Satan.

Verses 6-8: God is the Author of all our deliverances, and he must have the glory. The enemies lay snares for God's people, to bring them into sin and trouble, and to hold them there. Sometimes they seem to prevail; but in the Lord let us put our trust, and we shall not be put to confusion. The believer will ascribe all the honor of his salvation, to the power, mercy, and truth of God, and look back with wonder and thanksgiving on the way in which the Lord has led him. Let us rejoice that our help for the time to come is in him who made heaven and earth.


From the Historical Books
Esther 2:1-23
Esther Becomes Queen


1 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. 2 Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. 4 Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.

5 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.

19 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Commentary
Verses 1-20: We see to what absurd practices those came, who were destitute of Divine revelation, and what need there was of the gospel of Christ, to purify men from the lusts of the flesh, and to bring them back to the original institution of marriage. Esther was preferred as queen. Those who suggest that Esther committed sin to come at this dignity, do not consider the custom of those times and countries. Every one that the king took was married to him, and was his wife, though of a lower rank. But how low is human nature sunk, when such as these are the leading pursuits and highest worldly happiness of men! Disappointment and vexation must follow; and he most wisely consults his enjoyment, even in this present life, who most exactly obeys the precepts of the Divine law. But let us turn to consider the wise and merciful providence of God, carrying on his deep but holy designs in the midst of all this. And let no change in our condition be a pretext for forgetting our duties to parents, or the friends who have stood in their place.

Verses 21-23: Good subjects must not conceal any bad design they know of against the prince, or the public peace. Mordecai was not rewarded at the time, but a remembrance was written. Thus, with respect to those who serve Christ, though their recompense is not till the resurrection of the just, yet an account is kept of their work of faith and labor of love, which God is not unrighteous to forget. The servant of God must be faithful to every trust, and watchful for those who employ him. If he appear to be neglected now, he will be remembered hereafter. None of our actions can be forgotten; even our most secret thoughts are written in lasting registers, Revelation 20:12.


From the Acts of the Apostles
Acts 12:20-25
A Leader Fails to give Glory to God


20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.

21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.

25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

Commentary
Many heathen princes claimed and received Divine honors, but it was far more horrible impiety in Herod, who knew the word and worship of the living God, to accept such idolatrous honors without rebuking the blasphemy. And such men as Herod, when puffed with pride and vanity, are ripening fast for signal vengeance. God is very jealous for his own honor, and will be glorified upon those whom he is not glorified by. See what vile bodies we carry about with us; they have in them the seeds of their own dissolution, by which they will soon be destroyed, whenever God does but speak the word. We may learn wisdom from the people of Tyre and Sidon, for we have offended the Lord with our sins. We depend on him for life, and breath, and all things; it surely then behooves us to humble ourselves before him, that through the appointed Mediator, who is ever ready to befriend us, we may be reconciled to him, lest wrath come upon us to the utmost.


Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year B. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2021, we will be in Year C. The year which ended at Advent 2020 was Year A. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org. The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

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