The Bible is a story of God’s relationship with mankind, and most books put God front and center. For example:
- The prophets are God’s mouthpieces: the last 17 books of the Old Testament are mostly words straight from God.
- The Gospels focus on Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus, the God-man, is the main character in all four books.
- The Law of Moses is about God’s covenant with and rules for Israel.
But as it turns out, two books of the Bible don’t talk about God at all. Weird, right?
Esther is the kind of story you could make into a movie again and again and again. This book focuses on two Jews in Susa, the capital of the Persian Empire: Esther, a girl who becomes queen, and her relative Mordecai, a member of King Ahaseurus’ guard.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Esther, you can get the big picture here. In short, Esther risks her life to prevent an act of genocide against her people. It’s the history of the Jewish feast of Purim.
And there’s no mention of God. So, that’s one down. Here’s the next:
Song of Solomon
Song of Solomon is a celebration of love, beauty, sex, and marriage. It’s a book of poetry featuring a bride and bridegroom, who sing back and forth to one another and to their community. You’ll find a lot of poetic references to the human anatomy, but you won’t see any mention of God as a person.
This one isn’t as cut-and-dry as Esther. There’s one passage of Song of Solomon in which the bride describes the strength and intensity of true love. She compares this love to a fire, but what kind of fire? Our English Bible translations tend to differ on how Song of Solomon 8:6 should end.
- NASB and ESV: “the very flame of the LORD”
- NIV: “like a mighty flame”
- KJV and NKJV: “a most vehement flame”
- NLT: “the brightest kind of flame”
Wait—why do some Bibles mention the Lord and some don’t?
It’s because that phrase is really coming from just one Hebrew word (sălhebetyáh). You see those last letters, yáh? That’s the short form of Yahweh, the Lord. The first part of the word is Hebrew for “flame.” So we’re left with this “flame of the Lord” or “Lord flame,” which is a little open to interpretation. It could mean a flame from God, or just a superior flame.
But even if this word is an allusion to God, it really doesn’t count as a mention of Him as a person (at least, it’s a stretch for me). And it’s definitely not a reference to Sid, Lord of the Flame, from DreamWork’s Ice Age.
Why don’t these books mention God?
There are a few reasons these books don’t mention God:
- There are no direct words from God. Most books of the Old Testament mention prophets, who speak on God’s behalf; neither of these stories, however, include any spokesperson for God.
- There are no overt miracles. When God does something completely out of the ordinary, the Bible credits Him for it. But Esther is a story of human action, and Song of Solomon focuses on human love.
What are these books even doing in the Bible, then?
These books don’t stand alone. We should read them in context of God’s covenant with Israel. And when we take that into account, it’s clear that there’s a lot going on below the surface.
For example, Esther and Mordecai are placing their faith in something beyond themselves:
- Esther and Mordecai fast in times of trouble.
- Mordecai is confident that the Jews will be delivered.
Mordecai and Esther act in faith throughout the book. Mordecai is a man of integrity, and Esther is a self-sacrificial heroine. We don’t know for sure if Mordecai had God’s promises to Abraham and David in mind when he claimed that the Jews would be delivered (Es 4:14). But words from God would make a good foundation for those beliefs.
Esther gives me an idea of what faith looks like when it’s played out, and leaves me with the question: is my faith as evident as Esther’s and Mordecai’s?
And Song of Solomon describes the bliss of married love. God sees His relationship to Israel as one of marriage, even though Israel is a terrible bride to Him. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea all use marriage to describe God’s covenant to Israel—usually to paint a picture of Israel’s sin (Jer 3:1; Eze 16; Hos 1).
But when you read the beginning of Ezekiel 16, you’ll see the kind of generous, passionate love that God has for Israel. And it sounds a lot like what you’d find in Song of Solomon:
- “Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord GOD. (Eze 16:8)
- “I am my beloved’s,
And his desire is for me.” (So 7:10)
Even the books that don’t mention God teach us a lot about God’s relationship with His people.
Now you’ve got to be curious enough to read Esther and Song of Solomon. Each book will only take you about half an hour to read, and they’re both really easy reads, too (no long genealogy portions). Jump in—you’ll love it.
Explore the Bible with us!
We create research-based articles and handy infographics to help people understand the Bible.
Join our email list, and we’ll send you some of our best free resources—plus we’ll tell you whenever we make something new.
Very nice article, Jeffrey!
May God continue to bless and use you!
This is a great article! Thanks for writing it!! I found it trying to find out more about why Esther doesn’t mention God in any way. Growing up I just assumed they did mention Him and sort of inserted it in myself without thinking, so that revelation was really interesting to me.
When is the word BUT mentioned the first time in the Bible?
“What are these books even doing in the Bible, even?”
The former talks about a proto-Holocaust being averted. The latter is a metaphor for Christ and his Bride.
when is God quiet in any of the phases