Hidden from Our View

Yael Eckstein  |  March 9, 2023

Close up of text in the Bible. The Book of Esther.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” —
Psalm 91:1-2

This month, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating Purim, a joyous holiday that commemorates the story of Queen Esther and her courageous stand that saved her people, the Persian Jews, from annihilation.

Trivia question: What is the only book of the Bible that doesn’t mention God even once? If you said the Book of Esther, you’d be correct. Because of this curious feature of Esther, the Talmud records that there was a controversy about whether or not it should have been included in the Bible. In more recent times, many Christian thinkers, including Martin Luther, expressed the opinion that Esther should never have been part of the Bible.

On the surface, this argument makes some sense. After all, the Bible is a book about God. How could a story of political intrigue such as Esther be part of the Bible if God isn’t even mentioned a single time in the entire book?

But that’s the whole point of the book. Let me explain.

The story of the Book of Esther is filled with what we might refer to as “coincidences.” Of all the young women in the Persian empire, Esther, a Jewish girl who concealed her identity, was chosen to be queen.

Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, just happened to overhear and report a plot to kill the king which was recorded in the royal records. A few years later, when Haman was on his way to ask the king to hang Mordecai for not bowing to him, at that exact moment, the king was reading in his records about Mordecai saving his life. The list goes on.

Hidden from Our View

The message of Esther is expressed beautifully in the opening verses of Psalm 91, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

The Hebrew for “shelter” here is seter, which means “hiddenness” or “secrecy.” In fact, many English versions of the Bible translate it this way. (Look at the NKJV translation.) The Book of Esther is about times when God shelters and protects us while He remains hidden from our view.

Not every redemption is like the Exodus from Egypt, with overt miracles like the splitting of the Red Sea. If the Book of Esther was not in the Bible, we might be led to believe that God is only active when we see obvious miracles. The message of Esther assures us that God is just as active, controlling every detail of our world, even when He keeps Himself hidden from our view.

Your Turn:

Do you sometimes worry that God is not in control because you don’t see Him explicitly? Remember that God is always pulling the strings, directing events for His purposes.