Bible Lesson: Finding Favor (Esther 1-2)

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Lesson on Esther 1-2
The following lesson is the second in the series of Esther.  This lesson focuses on how Esther won the favor of everyone she was around.  Student will discover that God gives His favor to those who live a blameless life.  The format for the lesson is mostly teaching verse by verse and allowing students to examine what the Scriptures say as the teacher asks them questions that pertain to what was just read.  The lesson was prepared for older students but can be adapted.

Bible Passage: Esther 1-2
Bible Story Title: Finding Favor (Esther 1-2)
Target Age Group:  Ages 9-11 (3rd-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
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Credits: Image courtesy of Sweet Publishing and Distant Shores Media

Supply List: Bibles, copies (observation sheets) of Esther 2, colored pens/pencils, map of Xerxes area of rule,
Learning Goal:  Students will learn that God’s favor is upon those who lives are blameless before Him.
Learning Activity #1:  Students mark key words/phrases on their observation sheet of Esther 2.
Learning Activity #2:  Scripture references about God’s favor:  (NASB-Psalm 90:17; Psalm 147:11; Proverbs 8:35; Proverbs 11:27; Proverbs 12:2; Proverbs 13:15; 1 Peter 2:20) Have the Scripture written on an index card or piece of paper and allow students to choose one to read as you begin the Bible lesson.
Memory Verse:  Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

Bible Lesson:Finding Favor (Esther 1-2)

Let’s open our Bibles to Esther chapter 1.  Let’s read verses 1-5.

  • How many provinces did Xerxes rule over? (127)
  • On a map how large was his kingdom? (India to Ethiopia (Cush))
  • How many days did he show off the wealth of his kingdom (180 days)

Read Esther 1:7-8

  • What were the people doing at Xerxes banquet? (Drinking wine)
  • How much wine was being served? (The royal wine was abundant, everyone could drink as much or as little as he wanted)
  • What do you think it would be like to be at this banquet with everyone drinking as much wine as they wanted? (Allow responses emphasizing that what we think isn’t written in Scripture but it allows us to understand what it might have been like to be there)

Read Esther 1:9-12

  • What was Queen Vashti doing while King Xerxes was having his banquet? (Giving a banquet for the women in the royal palace)
  • How different do you think the queen’s banquet was compared to the king’s?
  • In verse 10 what do we learn about Xerxes state of mind? (Most likely drunk from wine)
  • What command did Xerxes give the seven men to bring to him? (Queen Vashti)
  • Why did he want Queen Vashti to come to his banquet? (To show off her beauty to the men)
  • How did Queen Vashti respond to the king’s command? (She refused to come)
  • We aren’t told why she refused but if you were Vashti, why might you refuse to obey his command?
  • How did the king respond? (He was furious)
  • We don’t know why Xerxes was furious.  What could be some possible reasons for his anger?

Xerxes asked his wise men what he should do about Vashti’s behavior at his banquet.  They believed that what Vashti had done was wrong and set a bad example for all the women in the kingdom.  They thought when the women would hear about how Vashti didn’t obey the king’s command they would disrespect their husbands too.

  • Xerxes and Vashti were not God’s people who knew His commands.  We don’t know if Vashti’s refusal was acceptable to God or not. (Based on the context of the story it seems like she was being commanded to come into a room with drunken men which many not have been safe.)
    • Believers live by God’s Word.  Christian women are to obey and respect their husband as the leader of their family (Ephesians 5:25-33).  In any circumstance if a believer is being commanded to do something that would dishonor God then we can refuse to obey man’s command.  (“We must obey God rather than men!” (Peter said this when he was being commanded to stop teaching about Jesus in Acts 5:29))

The men told the king that he should make a law that takes the title of queen from Vashti and never allow her in the king’s presence again.  When the women in the kingdom heard about the consequences of Vashti’s disrespect it would cause women to respect their husbands.
Xerxes was pleased with this advice and sent messengers to all the parts of his kingdom declaring that Vashti was no longer queen.
Let’s read Esther 2:1-4.

  • What did the men who worked for Xerxes tell him he should do now that Vashti was no longer queen? (Have a beauty contest with all the beautiful young virgins and the woman who pleased the king would be his new wife)
  • How did Xerxes respond to this idea? (He was pleased with it)

Read Esther 2:5-7.

  • Who was Mordecai? (A Jew, from the tribe of Benjamin, an exile from Jerusalem, cousin to Esther, raised her when her parents died)
  • What do we learn about Esther in these verses? (She was called Hadassah, she was lovely in form and features, her parents died and Mordecai raised her)

Read Esther 2:8-11.

  • Who was the man in charge of the young women? (Hegai (heg-eye))
  • How did Hegai feel about Esther? (She pleased him and won his favor, he immediately provided her beauty treatments and special food, assigned her 7 maids selected from the king’s palace and moved her into the best place where the young women were staying)
  • What did Mordecai tell Esther not to tell people? (That she was a Jew)
  • What did Mordecai do every day?  (Walked back and forth where Esther was to find out how she was and what was happening to her)
  • From the few facts we read about Esther and Mordecai what do you learn about them as people? (Allow students to respond. Esther obeyed Mordecai as she would a father, Her behavior must have been blameless and above reproach for Hegai to be pleased with her, Mordecai was loving and protective of Esther.)

Gospel Connection:
Let’s recite our memory verse.  Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.  We are not told from Scripture what Esther’s relationship to God was like.  God’s Word gives insight to how a person gains favor in the sight of others.  Who bestows or gives favor?  (God) What kind of life does a person need to live to receive favor from God? (A walk that is blameless.)  In your own words what does it mean to have a blameless walk?
No person is truly blameless or righteous before God.  We are all sinners and the punishment for our sin is death/separation from God for all eternity.  A person is made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for sin (He died on the cross, was buried and rose again). We can do nothing to earn righteousness or God’s favor.  It is only through faith in Jesus that we receive forgiveness and can walk a blameless life.
Let’s read Esther 2:12-18.

  • How long was the preparation process for the young women? (12 months)
  • What took place during the 12 months? (Beauty treatments)
  • What could the young women take with them when they went before the king? (Anything they wanted)
  • What did Esther take before the king (Only what Hegai suggested)
  • Since Esther didn’t make up her own mind about what she would take before the king and only what Hegai suggested, what do you learn about her character?  (Responses will vary. Possible answers- umble, teachable, not self-centered, wise because Hegai would have better insight to what might be something the king would like)
  • Who else did Esther win favor with (Vs. 16; everyone)
  • How did King Xerxes respond when Esther was brought to him? (He was attracted to her more than any other of the women, she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins)
  • What was the result of King Xerxes attraction and pleasure with Esther? (He made her queen)
  • How did the king celebrate crowning Esther?  (He gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, proclaimed a holiday and distributed gifts)

We will continue our study of Esther next time picking up where we left off in Esther 2.  As we close let’s think about what God has taught us from reading His Word.  We saw Esther finding favor with everyone who saw her and eventually Xerxes who made her the next queen.  How would people describe your character?  Do you live a life that causes others to find favor with you?  More importantly than having the favor of people how does God see your life?  Are you blameless in His sight because you have believed in the Lord Jesus?  Are you walking in the light of His Word so that your life is pure before Him and those around you?  If you are not blameless in God’s sight you can be.  You can believe in the Lord Jesus today by believing that He died on the cross for your sins, was buried and rose again the third day.
Close in prayer.
Challenge question:
From the Bible who are some other people who gained favor in the sight of others? (Joseph (Genesis 39:2-5, 21), David (1 Samuel 16:5,12-16, Daniel (Daniel 1:9,19), Jesus(Luke 2:52)

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