Use this children’s Sunday School lesson about Esther to teach children about being ready for God to use them.
Needed: a copy of the script for each character (or each student if you want them to read along), soft balls, empty two-liter bottles or other lightweight items to knock over
Intro Game: Right Time Bowling
Divide the students into two or more teams. Give each team a soft ball and set an empty two-liter or another lightweight item in front of each team. Set a timer for 5 minutes. When you say, “Go!” the first student from each team rolls their ball toward their two-liter. The trick is that one or more leaders pace from one side of the room to the other, walking in between the players and their two-liters.
Students need to time their rolls so that the leader doesn’t get in front of them and block them. After they roll, they run to retrieve their ball and hand it off to the next student. Students score a point for their team each time they knock over their bottle. The team with the most points after 5 minutes wins.
After the game, ask students, When was the best time to roll your ball? (When the leader wasn’t walking in front of them.)
So, you saw when it was the right time, when you had an opportunity, and went for it! Today, we’re going to learn about a woman whom God made queen during a certain time so that she would have the opportunity to do something very important.
Say, The two kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been conquered. God let the Assyrians and the Babylonians conquer Israel and Judah because the people of Israel and Judah had done so many bad things. They had believed in and worshipped fake gods instead of the real God, and they had done all the wrong things that God didn’t do want them to do. So, God let the Assyrians and the Babylonians conquer their kingdoms and carry the Israelite people back to Assyria and Babylon.
Then, after 70 years, God forgave the Israelites, and the people of Judah and He told King Cyrus to let the people go back to Israel. Many Israelites went home to Israel. They rebuilt the Temple church in Jerusalem and rebuilt the wall around the city. But some of the Israelites stayed in Babylon. One of them was a young woman named Esther.
(Perform the following drama with your students to learn the story of Esther. Then, follow up with the review questions at the end.)
The Story of Queen Esther
Characters: Narrator, King Xerxes, Esther, Haman, Mordecai
King Xerxes: I am King Xerxes. I was having a feast, and I ordered my wife, Queen Vashti, to come to the feast so that I could show off how beautiful she was, but she said that she would not come. Now, I am going to have a contest to see who the new queen will be. Whoever is the most beautiful woman in the country, will become the new queen.
Narrator: A young Israelite woman named Esther (Esther stands up) was the most beautiful woman in the whole country, so King Xerxes chose her to be his new queen.
Esther: Yes, I know. I’m very beautiful. But I didn’t tell anyone that I was an Israelite, not even King Xerxes.
Mordecai: That’s because I warned her not to. Hi, I’m Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin. When Esther’s parents died, I adopted Esther and took care of her like she was my daughter. I told her not to tell anyone she was an Israelite, though, because a lot of people still didn’t like Israelites and I thought King Xerxes might not pick her to be the new queen if he knew she was an Israelite.
Esther: So, we kept it a secret, and I married the king.
Narrator: A little while later, two of King Xerxes’ guards decided to try to kill the king and take over the kingdom for themselves.
Mordecai: But I heard them talking, and I told Queen Esther about it.
Esther: And I told King Xerxes.
King Xerxes: And I ordered that those two guards be killed. But I forgot to thank Mordecai for telling us about it and saving my life.
Narrator: Instead, King Xerxes found a new favorite servant named Haman.
Haman: That’s me!
Narrator: Haman became very powerful because he was King Xerxes’ favorite servant. Everyone would bow down to him – everyone, that is, except for Mordecai.
Mordecai: Why should I bow down to Haman? It’s not like he’s God or anything. He’s a regular person, the same as me.
Narrator: So, Haman hated Mordecai because he wouldn’t bow down to him.
Haman: I’ll kill you, Mordecai.
Narrator: And when Haman found out that Mordecai was an Israelite, he decided to kill all the Israelites, not Mordecai only.
Haman: King Xerxes, can I kill all the Israelites living in your kingdom?
King Xerxes: Sure.
Narrator: So, Haman set a date and sent letters all over the kingdom, saying that on a certain day, everyone in the kingdom should attack and kill all the Israelites living in the kingdom.
Esther: I was the queen, but I didn’t know anything about this plan.
Mordecai: I was the one who heard about it and told her. I wanted her to tell King Xerxes that she was an Israelite too so that then, the king would change his mind and not let everyone kill the Israelites.
Esther: “I can’t tell the king I’m an Israelite,” I said. “I’ll be killed too. Besides, I’m only the queen. I can’t go talk to the king unless he calls for me.”
Mordecai: You have to tell him, Esther. Maybe this is why God made you Queen, so that you could change the king’s mind and help save all the Israelites.
Esther: I knew Mordecai was right, so I said, “Okay, tell everyone to pray for me. Then, I’ll go see the king, and if I die, then I die. At least I’ll know I tried.”
King Xerxes: Three days later, Queen Esther came to my throne room. She knew I could have her killed for coming to see me when I hadn’t called for her, but I liked Esther, so I let her come in. “What can I do for you?” I asked her.
Esther: King Xerxes, I’m making dinner for you tomorrow night. Please come with your servant Haman. Then, I will tell you what I want you to do for me.
Narrator: A little while later, King Xerxes told Haman about how the queen had invited them both to dinner.
Haman: All right!
Narrator: But when Haman left the palace, he saw Mordecai again, and Mordecai didn’t bow down to him.
Haman: I hate you, Mordecai!
Mordecai: I only bow down to God.
Narrator: Haman was so angry that he decided not to wait for the day when all the Israelites would be killed. He wanted to kill Mordecai right then. He went home and built a pole to hang Mordecai on. The next morning, he went to the king to ask him if he could kill Mordecai and put him on the pole. But before Haman could ask, King Xerxes said,
King Xerxes: Haman, what should I do if I want to reward someone?
Narrator: Haman thought the king wanted to reward him since he was the king’s favorite servant, so he said,
Haman: You should give him one of the king’s robes and one of the king’s horses and let him ride around town.
King Xerxes: That sounds like a great idea, Haman! I want you to give one of my robes and one of my horses to Mordecai, and lead him around the city. He heard two of my guards planning to kill me once, and I forgot to thank him for warning me.
Narrator: Haman was very mad that he had to reward Mordecai instead of killing him, but he had to do it because that’s what the king ordered him to do. After he was done leading Mordecai through the city, it was time for Haman to go to dinner with the king and Queen Esther.
Haman: At least I get to eat some good food now.
Narrator: But when they were at the dinner, King Xerxes asked,
King Xerxes: So, Queen Esther, what did you want me to do for you?
Esther: I want you to save my life and the lives of my people. I am an Israelite, but Haman has convinced you to kill all the Israelites in the kingdom.
Narrator: King Xerxes didn’t know what to do, so he got up from the dinner table and walked out of the room. He had to think about what he could do. Meanwhile, Haman leaned in really close to Esther,
Haman: Please, Queen Esther, I didn’t know you were an Israelite. I wasn’t trying to kill you. If the king thinks I was trying to kill you, he’ll kill me instead.
Narrator: Just then, King Xerxes came back into the room. He saw Haman leaning in close to Queen Esther, and he thought Haman was trying to kiss her.
King Xerxes: This man is trying to kiss my queen! Hang him on the pole he set up in his yard.
Narrator: So, Haman was hung on the pole he had set up to hang Mordecai on.
Mordecai: And I became the king’s favorite servant instead of Haman!
King Xerxes: And I ordered that the Israelites could fight back if anyone tried to kill them.
Esther: So, everything worked out. I guess God really did make me Queen so that I could change the king’s mind and save all the Israelites.
Narrator: The end.
Why did Haman hate Mordecai so much? (Because Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to him.)
Why wouldn’t Mordecai bow down to him? (Because Mordecai knew that we’re only supposed to bow down to God.)
Why did God make Esther the Queen? (So that she could change King Xerxes’ mind about killing all the Israelites.)
Remember, there are times when God might want you to do something, just like He wanted Queen Esther to save the Israelites. Always try to think about what God wants you to do, and then, when He gives you the opportunity, do it.
Game: Right Time Bowling
Play the intro game again and remind students that we need to look for the opportunities that God gives us.
Lord, we thank You for making Esther the queen so that she would have the opportunity to save the Israelites. We pray that You’ll help us to see what opportunities You’re giving us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Hope in Exile.