This book is the second in a projected series of commentaries on the books of the Bible. The first in the series was Galatians by Phil Ryken.
The objective of this commentary series is to provide pastors, teachers and other Christians a narrative commentary on the books of the Bible. The commentaries are and will continue to be doctrinally Reformed and concentrate on the unifying theme of redemptive history. Redemptive history is the theme and tapestry running throughout the entire canon of Scripture; however, that is not often the understanding of most Christians who tend to see the Bible as a collection of many different books from different authors at different moments in history setting forth a particular message.
Though Duguid may strain a bit at certain places to highlight the redemptive theme, you will see the redemptive tapestry unfold in Esther and Ruth. Esther is a story about God using Esther and her uncle Mordecai to thwart a plot to kill the Jews in the great empire of Ahasuerus. While one of the unusual characteristics of this book is that God is not mentioned, you have to see him working behind the scenes to fulfill his covenant promises to save his people despite their unworthiness.
Duguid has written in sermonic fashion that reflects good exegesis and will provide the reader with many insights into the meaning and significance of Esther. One point of interest is the meaning and ongoing reminder of why the Feast of Purim is established by Mordecai.
While the intent of this series is to present a commentary from a historical redemptive perspective, there is also some good moral application throughout the book. The same applies with part two, Duguid’s messages and commentary on Ruth.
While I admittedly have some question about his commentary on the opening historical situation that lead Elimelech and his family to leave Bethlehem for the land of Moab, I am intrigued by reasons and explanations offered.
This book, as well as the first on Galatians, are helpful tools to have. Commendable efforts are made in each chapter not only to open the text in its original setting, but also based on that understanding to move the reader to the application in our contemporary setting. For example, while explaining the establishment of the Feast of Purim, Duguid writes about festivals and celebrations today from a plus and minus perspective. Celebration is an important part of our life and tradition, but knowing what to celebrate or not is extremely important.
Another example of contemporary application is seeing Naomi, with her daughter-in-law Ruth, returning from Moab to Bethlehem, reminding us that Christ has not left us to return to him, alone. Christ comes to us to accompany us back to the Father’s house. Duguid is careful to show Ruth’s journey from Moab to Bethlehem, from a stranger and outcast to finding a place with Boaz and finally God himself.