Esther: God’s Hidden Presence

Ironically, God is not mentioned a single time in the book of Esther. Nope, not even once. Seriously, go look for yourself, but I’ll tell you right now it’s a waste of time. The words ​El or ​Elohim?​ Zero times. ​Yahweh​ or ​Adonai​? Nada. ​Shaddai​ or ​Ehyeh​? Zilch. Not even an angel or lowly messenger from the Lord with a word from God? Nope, not at all. None of these are present in the book of Esther at any point. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s just how the proverbial cookie crumbles as Esther and Mordecai face a plot in which Haman tries to murderously eradicate the chosen people of God. Hmm, it seems we could really use God showing up here…

Well, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Oddly, for a God who isn’t mentioned throughout the 10 chapters of Esther, He sure does show up quite a bit. However, God’s presence is not manifested in the large, sweeping displays we’re familiar with throughout the Old Testament. No pillars of fire or seas split in two. No booming voices or vast plumes of smoke. Not even cryptic dreams or mystic figures wrestling on the banks of rivers with the story’s characters. Instead, what we have remaining in Esther is perfectly ordinary, unmiraculous, and mundane. Or, at least it may seem so.

Perhaps it is not mundane, but that instead, Esther offers us a unique picture into the mysterious workings of God that the rest of the Scriptures do not? Much of Scripture highlights the miraculous and awe-inspiring feats of God, but Esther tells us God’s everyday activity. He’s there, but in discreet ways that oversee and guide the course of human history. God’s sovereign hand is consistently woven into the story to save the Jews from the plot of Haman, rescuing them from certain destruction and ensuring their survival. Esther and Mordecai consistently find themselves in just the right place and at just the right time to influence the unfolding events. It’s almost as if someone is guiding their lives. Who could that be?

Often, this is how we see God’s work in our own lives when we reflect on our past years. We see God using subtle situations and relationships to direct the course of our lives. But, that does not mean we do not seek his presence in the everyday. When Esther discovers Haman’s plot, she commands the Jews to fast. Now, God may not be mentioned, but when people fast it assumes that God is paying attention⁠ (fasting is terribly impractical if there is not a God). Thus, we see the people calling out to God and Him delivering the people in response to their devotion. Likewise, when we look back on our lives we see the plethora of ways that God has responded to our own cries to Him, answering and guiding us along the way.

Now, to close, I want to put forth one more way that God is displayed in the book of Esther: the title character’s name. In Hebrew, it means “star,” however, this is not the only way it can be read. Esther’s name can also be a derivation of the Hebrew verb “​satar​,” meaning “to hide.” When an “E” is added to the front, we get this wonderful conjugation and meaning that is concealed from our English-reading eyes, “I will hide.” And that’s exactly where God is in the book of Esther, hiding in the background, yet perfectly present.

My friends, that is a promise we cannot forget. No matter where we are in life, and no matter how hidden God may seem to be, He is still and always wholly present and working in intangible ways that we cannot even begin to conceive.