Esther: The Making of a Queen Day 6: Weekly Thoughts
Despite the fact that God is never mentioned by name in the book of Esther, there are many important lessons we have learned this week about His will and His ways.
When the Persian ruler, King Ahasuerus, called upon Queen Vashti during a feast to flaunt her beauty to his kingdom, she refused. This refusal to obey her husband and her rightful king represented a rejection of his authority over her, and he and his advisors feared it would send a message of weakness to the provinces under his reign. Her removal as queen demonstrated the king’s power and his government’s upholding of patriarchal authority. In hindsight, we also see that Vashti’s demotion was a necessary part of God’s providential protection of the Jewish people.
Esther is then introduced as Hadassah, a virtuous young Jewish woman with humble beginnings. After the loss of both her parents, her cousin Mordecai takes her in as his own daughter and raises her to be a woman of strong moral character. We can see his deep concern for her well-being and her faith. In watching her relationship with Mordecai and her embrace of his loving leadership, we can learn much about leading others well and about obeying well in our walk with the Lord. Esther’s early life as an orphan in exile is also proof of God’s care for us, even in challenging and lonely circumstances. A difficult start never automatically means a difficult end when God is involved—He is a master of transforming pain into purpose, hurt into healing, and tragedies into triumphs.
No matter what we learned about it as children, we have seen that Esther’s forced entry into Persia’s most intense beauty competition was not exactly the glamorous opportunity many of us have imagined it to be. This time in Esther’s life was yet another challenge she would need to overcome. She had been ripped from the only family and the only home she had ever known and instantly been subjected to constant scrutiny and the pressure to perform under the pagan surroundings of the king’s palace. Particularly after the news of Vashti’s dethroning, this would have been a terrifying proposition for any young girl, especially a devout Jew. Many, if not all, of the women taken to the palace to compete were marked for the rest of their lives by the loss of their virginity; the woman chosen to be queen also instantly faced a lifetime of public scrutiny, royal responsibilities, and marriage to a king with vast power and limited availability. Esther’s coronation was a sign of her incredible beauty and virtue and of the king’s deep admiration and passion for her, but in her mind and heart, it also would have been a frightening day of change and confusion.
Esther’s greatest crisis arose soon after she became queen when Haman underhandedly convinced the king to order the annihilation of all the Jews in Persia. Haman’s hatred for Mordecai led to this scheme, and it was based on his seething rage against the fact that Mordecai would not give him the reverence he believed he was due. All the Jews were in a panic over the news, not knowing why God would allow something so devastating to come upon His own people. Esther was the only one in a position of power to speak up on their behalf to the king. She was afraid, knowing that doing so would mean risking her life, because the law said she would die if she went to him without his calling for her. But Mordecai reminded her that God had brought her to the kingdom for a reason and that He would find a way to deliver His chosen people, with or without her help.
That reminder was enough. Esther brought the people together, sought the Lord’s help with them in desperation and humility, and boldly went to the king with her request. Her courageous choice to risk her life for the sake of her people was rewarded with answered prayers. Haman was executed, Mordecai was exalted, and with the king’s support, Jews all across Persia won great victories against their enemies. The annual feast of Purim is celebrated to this day in honor of Esther’s brave stand and God’s grand deliverance.
In Esther, we see God’s hand at work throughout the story, weaving together people and situations in various ways. We see the formation of Esther’s character amidst powerful fears and deep challenges to her faith. Ultimately, we see what happens when God’s people choose Him above everything and everyone else. We see the glorious victories that come when we obey His commands and heed His call. We see that what matters far more than royal beauty is royal wisdom; what matters far more than increasing power and prestige is increasing obedience to the King of Kings.