The Book of Esther has an amazing story with tons of lessons we can learn from it. Esther, one of the main characters, can have an entire article if not a book written about her humility, fearlessness and intelligence alone.
This article is about 10 life lessons we can learn from The Book of Esther in general. In addition to Esther, it includes life lessons from the other characters of the book as well. The life lessons are:
- Seek Counsel Before Making Emotional Decisions
- Make Decisions Based on Law
- Problems Create Opportunities
- Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
- Your Actions Can Cast A Negative or Positive Light On Others
- Sometimes You Have To Take Risks
- Focusing On The Things You Don’t Have Makes You Unhappy
- Pride Comes Before The Fall
- You’ll Get Caught In The Traps You Set
- Don’t Forget Where You Came From
Let’s now explore each of these life lessons in detail.
Esther Chapter 1
The Book of Esther chapter 1 sets the stage for Esther’s future position as queen and has two life lessons we can learn from it. The lessons are related to decision-making and are based on what King Xerxes’ did. They are to seek counsel before making an emotional decision and make decisions based on law.
Seek Counsel Before Making Emotional Decisions
After the King requested that Queen Vashti be brought before him to display her beauty before the people and nobles, verse 12 says “the king became furious and burned with anger” when she refused (1 Esther 1:12 NIV). Although he was burning with anger and it was his wife, he didn’t let his anger drive him to make an emotional decision. Instead, Esther 1 goes on to say that he consulted experts regarding what to do.
When we get angry or sad in life, we tend to make decisions based on emotions rather than logic. Then later on when we feel better we often regret the decisions we made. The way King Xerxes handled his emotions is a good example of how we should handle our emotions.
Just like the King sought counsel, it is in our best interest to seek counsel before making an emotional decision. In actuality, whether we are angry or not we should seek counsel, but since we are not likely to when we’re emotional, it’s important to pay more attention when we’re in such a state.
Ephesians 4:26 says ‘And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry’ (NLT). Combine that with “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:6 NIV), as believers let’s remember this life lesson by seeking Godly counsel rather than letting emotions control our decisions.
Make Decisions Based on Law
If you never learned about law beyond laws in the sense of a country’s laws, to make decisions based on “law” as a life lesson from Ester 1 would seem confusing. I share more about Law in a greater sense in my article 3 Things You Should Know About God’s Laws, but just to share enough to explain this point, Law has to do with the absolute way things should be done as opposed to the way we think they should be done.
When King Xerxes sought the counsel of the wise men, the book of Esther says he asked them “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” (1 Esther 1:15). He didn’t request their opinions, rather he requested an answer based on facts. Whether the advice he received from one of the men in Esther 1:16-20 was indeed based on law, I can’t say for sure. But the life lesson we can learn from king Xerxes’ question is to go about making decisions based on facts.
Making decisions based on God’s laws rather than any other law is what God himself says is the key to success. When Joshua took over from Moses in leading the Israelites, one of the first things God told him was:
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.Joshua 1:8 NIV
This verse indicates that Joshua’s success and prosperity were based on him doing what is written in God’s law. Learning from the way King Xerxes phrased his request in Esther 1:15, we should adopt a similar approach. Instead of asking fellow believers what they think we should do, we should ask them “according to God’s word” what should be done. Opinions are fragile. Laws are solid. Keep this in mind the next time you have to make a decision.
Esther Chapter 2
The Book of Esther chapter 2 introduces Esther and outlines her path to becoming Queen. Two life lessons we can learn from this chapter are that problems create opportunities and to give credit to where credit is due.
Problems Create Opportunities
In life, when problems occur most people see it as all negative. But as we can learn from Esther chapter 2, problems create opportunities. The disagreement between King Xerxes and Queen Vashti opened the door for Esther. That opened door later positioned Esther to be an influence that enabled her to save her people.
Problems Work Out For The Good
When we don’t see problems as creating opportunities we can miss out on their hidden blessings. As stated, Vashti’s disobedience opened the door for Esther to be Queen. Later in the book of Esther, the Jews were at risk of being killed and while trying to convince Esther to act, Mordecai told her “who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NIV).
At the time, they couldn’t foresee how Esther would play a role in saving the Jews. Who knows, Mordecai might have been resistant to the idea that Esther was selected along with the other women. Esther 2:11 shows his concern saying “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” (NIV).
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). While anyone can see the bright side of problems if they search, we believers especially should look forward to it knowing that everything works out for the good for us. The problem that led to Esther becoming Queen is one of many examples of it we can learn from.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Giving credit where credit is due is a life lesson from Esther chapter 2 because when Esther gave credit to Mordecai, it was not only an honest act, but the story goes on to show how it can cause things to work out for the good.
The Impact of Esther Giving Mordecai Credit
As we saw in the last lesson, every day Mordecai came near the courtyard to find out how Esther was doing. On one of those occasions, he heard a conspiracy to assassinate King Xerxes and told Esther about it. Esther reported it to the King and gave credit to Mordecai. The chapter then says “All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king” (Esther 2:23 NIV).
If you’ve studied the book of Esther, you’ll know that this led to Mordecai being honored later on when the King happened to ask to have the book of the annals read to him (Esther 6:1). That request was perfect timing as it was when Mordecai was at risk of being killed at the request of Haman, the man that was working to have all the Jews destroyed. As small as it may have been, if Esther didn’t give credit to Mordecai for hearing about the conspiracy, Mordecai the man who raised her could have ended up dead.
You Might Never Know The Impact Of The Credit You Give
Only in the end, Esther would have recognized the benefits of the credit she gave. With that said, you might never know the impact of the credit you give to those it was due. On the job, the credit you give to a coworker today could lead to their promotion putting them in a position to influence your promotion tomorrow.
Another example is the credit you give to God. We all know that God makes all things possible, but sometimes we forget to give him credit. When you give credit to God when unbelievers ask you for the reason behind your success, peace, happiness, etc, you plant a seed that may cause them to become believers in the future.
We’ll never know the true impact of this seemingly small act. The Book of Esther shows an example of it working out. Learning from Esther, let’s give credit to where credit is due, too.
Esther Chapter 3
In The Book of Esther chapter 3, we see the development of the plot to destroy all the Jews. In this chapter, a life lesson that stands out especially for believers is that people’s experience with you can cast a negative light on others.
Your Actions Can Cast A Negative or Positive Light On Others
When King Xerxes promoted Haman, Mordecai would not kneel down and pay honor to him as the king had commanded the people to. This led to Haman being enraged and because Mordecai was a Jew he wanted to destroy all Jews as a result (Esther 3:5-6).
Isn’t that interesting? Haman wanted to destroy all the Jews because one Jew didn’t want to pay him honor. This is an example of how one person’s actions can cast a negative or positive light on others. We don’t know how many negative interactions Haman had with Jews in the past, but as far as he was concerned all the Jews were like Mordecai and deserved to be eliminated for the lack of respect.
People Make Generalizations
I suppose Haman’s response isn’t a complete surprise. We tend to make generalizations often as humans. As a citizen of The Bahamas, a top tourism destination, people who visit and interact with a few nice people would say “the people of The Bahamas are so nice”. Similarly, people who had a bad experience with the service may say “the people of The Bahamas are rude”.
Generalizations aren’t facts, but they have a great impact. In Esther 3:8, Haman told the King, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them” (NIV). Was it true that all the Jews that didn’t obey the King’s laws? Highly unlikely, but that’s what Haman said which convinced the king to authorize the destruction of the jews.
Learning from this, we should be careful of what we do as it can cast a negative or positive light on the people we represent. It could be our family, friends, country, or most importantly faith. Doing good things makes everyone look good and doing bad things makes everyone look bad so pay careful attention to your actions.
Esther Chapter 4
In The Book of Esther chapter 4, Mordecai persuades Esther for help and her memorable response teaches an important life lesson. The life lesson is sometimes you have to take risks.
Sometimes You Have To Take Risks
With the Jews at risk of being destroyed, Mordecai reached out to Esther for help because of her position as queen. He told her “to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people” (Esther 4:8 NIV).
Entering the presence of the King without being summoned potentially meant death and this made Esther fearful. Realizing how serious the situation was she later said “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16 NIV). Prayerfully, Esther entered the King’s presence and found favor with him and so she eventually saved her people because she took the risk.
Like Esther, you may become fearful of doing certain things because you may fail. But sometimes, given what doing that thing could mean, it’s important to take the risk. It could be starting a business to make a better future for you and your family. It could be speaking up on the job to protect the interest of you and your coworkers although speaking up could cause you to get fired.
Every so often in life we are faced with these types of choices. Esther taking the risk is a great example of what’s necessary sometimes. Remember her when you find yourself having to make a risky but rewarding choice next time.
Esther Chapter 5
In The Book of Esther chapter 5, Esther sets the stage for the request she wants to make of the King and Haman continues to get furious with Mordecai. The life lesson we can learn from this chapter comes from Haman and is that focusing on the things you don’t have makes you unhappy.
Focusing On The Things You Don’t Have Makes You Unhappy
Haman had so much going for him. He was elevated above all the other nobles. Anything he asked of the king seemed to be granted to him. While speaking to his wife and friends, Esther 5:11 says he “boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials” (NIV).
Despite all he had going for him he continued to let Mordecai’s lack of respect for him upset him. After boasting to his family and adding that Esther only invited him to a banquet to accompany the king, he said “But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate” (Esther 5:13 NIV).
Haman’s dissatisfaction because of one thing despite all he had going for him is the same way we can become unhappy in life although we could have so much going for us. Haman’s dissatisfaction led to his grave, but if he had focused on all he did have he could have lived happily ever after.
Don’t make the same mistake that Haman made. Whenever you start to focus on the things you don’t have, think of all the things you do have. When I start to lose focus, a scripture that helps me focus on the right things and calms me is Philippians 4:6-7. It says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
I hope it does the same for you when you find yourself loosing focus.
Esther Chapter 6
The Book of Esther chapter 6 tells the story of Mordecai being honored. In this chapter, the prideful Haman finds himself humbled teaching us the life lesson that pride comes before the fall.
Pride Comes Before The Fall
There is no doubt that Haman was prideful. He boasted of “his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials” (Esther 5:11 NIV).
He thought he was so important that when the King wanted to honor Mordecai and asked his opinion on how to do it, he thought to himself “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” (Esther 6:6 NIV). Because he thought he was the one that was going to be honored, he told the king:
For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!Esther 6:7-9 NIV
To his unpleasant surprise, the king responded “Go at once…Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended” (Esther 6:10 NIV).
It turned out that the man who made him angry by not honoring him was the man the king had in mind to honor. What an amazing turn of events! Haman found himself placing a robe on Mordecai and leading him on a horseback through the city proclaiming “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” (1 Esther 6:11 NIV).
Afterward, Esther 6:12 says “Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief” (NIV) teaching us the lesson that pride comes before the fall. In addition to seeing this in the life of Haman, Proverbs 16:18 says it directly: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (NIV).
It’s Easy To Become Prideful
In life, it’s easy to become prideful. We may start off as humble people and get promoted through life because of our humility. However, as we achieve more and more it can get to our heads. As we see with Haman and as Proverbs say, pride comes before the fall. So keep this lesson in mind and remain humble as you elevate in life.
Esther Chapter 7
In The Book of Esther chapter 7, Haman is killed. The way he is killed teaches the life lesson that you’ll get caught in the traps you set.
You’ll Get Caught In The Traps You Set
Earlier in Esther chapter 5, after Haman said despite all he achieved he got no satisfaction when he saw Mordecai, his wife and friends gave him some bad advice. They told him “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it” (Esther 5:14).
Later in chapter 7 when Esther confronts Haman before the king for what he intended to do to the Jews, the king said impale him on the pole he had set up for Mordecai (Esther 7:9). Haman got caught in the trap he intended for Mordecai.
This is just the way life works. Not knowing how or why we should learn to do the right thing so that we don’t get ourselves into problems. Proverbs 26:27 says “If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead” (NLT).
Traps Set Against You
As a believer, setting traps for people is something you shouldn’t and hopefully don’t do. On the other hand, this lesson gives us the peace of mind that if there ever happens to be someone out there setting up a trap for us, it will work against them.
Esther Chapter 9
In the Book of Esther chapter 9, the Jews overcame their enemies and Purim, a jewish custom, was established. The life lesson I’ll share from this chapter is simply don’t forget where you came from.
Don’t Forget Where You Came From
After the Jews overcame their enemies when their enemies were supposed to overcome them, Mordecai wrote to the Jews “to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor” (Esther 9:22 NIV). Something significant had happened for them and Mordecai wanted to make sure they and the generations that followed them to never forget it.
It’s similar to how God had the Israelites make a celebration out of major events such as the passover. Today we have annual events like Easter and Christmas that do a similar thing.
Not forgetting where you came from is important. When you do, it’s easy to take things for granted. Learning from the establishment of purim in Esther 9 we can create annual customs for our personal lives to remember where we came from.
It could be the day you moved into your own home. Simply taking a moment to pause and reflect on that date can remind you of how much you prayed and sacrificed to make it possible. It would give you a renewed sense of appreciation of how blessed you are. A similar thing can be done with the day you became a believer or any other personal event not normally celebrated. We do it for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Why not apply this powerful idea personally?
The book of Esther is truly an amazing story with some amazing life lessons. In this article I shared 10 life lessons from the various characters and events of the book. I hope you begin to find ways of applying some of them to your life.