One of the most loved Scriptures of all time is Psalm 23:
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Jesus as my shepherd. Me as a little lamb. It’s such a peaceful image. So filled with harmony and contentment. Can’t you just picture Jesus holding his staff, walking along side you, keeping you on His path?
How does a shepherd herd his sheep? That staff he carries isn’t just a handy walking stick. A shepherd uses it to guide the sheep in the direction he wants them to go. Think about the old phrase: Spare the rod and spoil the child. The rod and the staff are used by the shepherd to guide the sheep. By using the rod and the staff, the sheep obey the shepherd.
And the sheep are comforted. They trust the shepherd to guide them on the safe path—away from rocky cliffs and hungry beasts. Their obedience to the good shepherd is comforting because they know that obedience is for their good.
Good parents make good rules. Good children obey those rules and do well. Bad parents make poor rules or make no rules at all. Without rules, children have nothing to obey. The result is usually poor choices and poor lives. Underneath the whining and attempt at rebellion, children need rules. At some level they understand that good parents care enough about them to make and enforce rules. Obedience is a reflection of a loving parent/child relationship.
But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just a Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up (Esther 2:20).
Esther was a good girl. She did what she was told to do by those in authority over her. Would Esther have been selected for the harem had people known she was a Jewess? Possibly. The point though is that she was obedient to her cousin, followed his counsel and as a result was in the proper place to be used by God to save His people.
Later, as queen, Esther was obedient to her husband the King. He had authority over her not just as her husband but also as her king.It was his authority as king that caused her to fear what Mordecai asked her to do—go before the King to plead on behalf of her people. If she sought audience with the King without being summoned, the King had the authority to have her put to death instantly. No pleading. No wait a minute, honey.
No court trial with a jury of young Jewish women. And with the history of King Xerxes’ banishment of the former Queen Vashti fresh in her memory, Esther surely wondered how secure her position was.
Esther accepted her role however, and approached the King, accepting his authority over her, saying that “if I die, I die.” She was willing to be obedient, even unto death. Like Jesus was obedient to Father God.
Am I obedient to those in authority over me? Am I obedient to God—the ultimate authority in my life? When the King asks us to do something, are we obedient—without question? Without hesitation?
King Solomon was known as the wisest man in history, as evidenced by the Book of Proverbs, attributed mainly to him. At the end of his lengthy treatise in Ecclesiastes, he determined:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Obedience is not a bad thing. In reality, if rules have been created for our good, then being obedient to those rules is the very best, smartest and most awesome thing we can do. Being obedient is a really good thing! Culture today has celebrated the anti-hero. We applaud movies where the bank robber or misunderstood murderer is the main character we root for. We praise people who walk to the “beat of a different drummer.” We sing Frank’s song about “Doing it My Way” as if my way is the best way.
Most often, my way isn’t the best way. But always, every time, forever and completely, God’s way is the best way. He is our forever hero.
Want a few more verses about the joy and benefit of obedience to God? Here are a few:
If you love me, keep my commands (John 14:15).
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance (1 Peter 1:14).
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3, emphasis added).
I have I have chosen the way of faithfulness (my free will; my choice; making your way my way); I have set my heart on your laws (explanation added, Psalm 119:30).
Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death (John 8:51).
But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you (God’s way is the good way) (Jeremiah 7:23; explanation and emphasis added).
See also Joshua 22:5; James 1:22-25; Titus 3:1; 1 John 2:17, Romans 6:17, John 14:21-23.
Obedience doesn’t require low esteem; it isn’t demeaning; it doesn’t mean we are weak. In fact, obedience to God strengthens our faith and allows us to rely even more on the power of Jesus available to those who love Him. Esther submitted to God and to her king but continued to be strong and decisive. She was obedient and as a result, both her husband, the King and God honored her.
If Esther were here she would say this was her story. Because of her obedience she was able to save her people.
Who are we to God? When we recognize the power found in obedience, we understand how He might see His women of faith. We can answer:
I am (like) Esther.
For Thought and Discussion
- As an adult, how do you see your parents’ rules differently than you did as a child?
- Who has authority over you today? How does that authority make you feel secure? I what ways do you want to rebel against that authority?
- Do you listen for God’s guidance? Is there something you feel God is asking you to do? What one step can you take toward being obedient today?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us be obedient to those in authority while maintaining our personal strength and integrity. Help us especially be obedient to you and show us what you desire for our lives. Amen.