Lessons from Women of the Old Testament Day 3: Esther’s Courage
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV)
“Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16, ESV)
The book of Esther is a small one toward the middle of the Bible that could be easily overlooked if you’re not careful. I’ve studied this book a few times, and it’s been such a blessing to me. Though it’s a small book, it is filled with rich truth, and I am left convicted after reading of the astounding faith that Esther displayed. I’ve always found it interesting that it’s the one book of the Bible where the word “God” is never mentioned, yet we can see His hand throughout the story and in the life of Esther.
One of the first things mentioned about Esther is her great beauty. She had been taken in by her uncle since she no longer had a father or mother, and we read that she “had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at” (2:7). This great beauty would work in her favor, because King Ahasuerus loved Esther and she ended up being the queen. God knew all along that her striking beauty would catch the attention of the king, and that her title of Queen would be useful for His people in their need.
For the next part of Esther’s story, some background information might be needed. It’s important to know a few key people in her story. Mordecai, the uncle who raised her, was a constant source of advice and support to Queen Esther. King Ahasuerus had an advisor, Haman, who hated Mordecai and was out to destroy him. He sought any opportunity to bring him down, and his ultimate plan was for the king to sign a decree to kill all the Jews throughout the kingdom. Both Mordecai and Queen Esther were Jews, so this would affect them as well as their people. The tricky part was that King Ahasuerus had no idea that Esther was a Jew since she hadn’t told him.
That was a lot of information to digest, but it helps set the scene for the rest of the story. It also helps us appreciate the actions of Esther even more, knowing the details of the situation. Imagine being in a similar situation and getting the news that your own people were going to be destroyed. I know that Esther was distressed; these people were her family. Not only that, King Ahasuerus could have been angry that she hadn’t revealed to him that she was a Jew.
One of my favorite verses of Scripture is in the advice that Mordecai gave Esther when they heard of Haman’s plan to kill the Jews. Mordecai said, “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” It would’ve been convicting to be in Esther’s position, having to choose to act in the situation she was in. Instead of being paralyzed with fear, Esther immediately acted.
However, she didn’t jump into something without thinking (which I may be guilty of doing sometimes), but she said she was going to fast and pray to the Lord. What a conviction for my own heart—what is my first reaction when I am faced with a difficult situation? Do I try my own coping mechanisms, or wallow in self-pity (please appreciate the Grinch reference)? Or do I first respond by looking to the Lord for guidance and direction?
I am also challenged by Esther’s response as she determined to go before the king: “If I perish, I perish.” It was against the law to go before the king unless summoned, and she hadn’t been summoned. She would be approaching him with no invitation, yet she wasn’t worried about her own life in that moment. She had more care for the lives of those she loved, which says a great deal about her selfless character. She wasn’t just putting her title at stake; she was putting her life at stake.
Esther was willing to risk her life, yet we know that it never came to that. She found favor in the king’s presence, and she convinced him to revoke the decree to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom. Esther’s story is a reminder to me to seek His guidance and direction above all else and to have immense faith even in the most difficult circumstances. Her courage and faith are rooted in the truth that we serve a God who is capable of doing the unthinkable. Bring Him all your trials and fears—He can handle it.