Life had never been easy for Esther.
Born in exile around 492 B.C., she experienced the consequences of the rebellion of the generations of Israelite brothers and sisters before her. It couldn’t have been easy for her when her parents died. She must have feared what would become of her. Her heart must have become calm when Uncle Mordecai came to the rescue and adopted her. He not only provided for her as best he could, but also sought to protect this beautiful young girl.
Esther’s beauty set her apart from many of the other girls entering their teenage years, so it is not hard to imagine her uncle needed to be watchful of her. Certainly he must have attended to developing her character as well, telling her the history of their family from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
That beauty resulted in her getting noticed while they were living in Susa in ancient Persia (now Iran) when Queen Vashti turned down a request from her husband, King Ahasuerus, to display her beauty to a gathering of his guests. After Vashti’s choice, she was banished from his presence and her position.
The king’s key man went searching throughout his kingdom for a new woman to be queen since Vashti had embarrassed him when she refused his request in front of many important guests. Esther caught his eye and was taken into the king’s household to go through a lengthy period of beauty treatments before being presented to the king.
Some scholars suggest that Esther was perhaps fourteen years old as all this is happening (not an unusual age to be considered for marital union in those days).
Even so, what must this have been like for Esther? Taken from her uncle into a king’s household, she would have faced values, customs, and religion that were not her own. She also knew she would face this powerful king and become a part of his harem. What could she have known of that?
From the outset of the story, Esther gained favor in how to choose the beauty treatments and assorted other things prior to being taken before the king. Could it have been her uncle’s training that equipped her to be wise about such obedience and the potential improved position it might make for her?
Had God already created an attitude of heart, mind, and spirit in this lovely young lady to fit with his design and fulfill his purpose?
When it was time to be brought before the king, everything she was told to do to prepare achieved the goal and the king was very pleased with this young beautiful girl. Her night with the king appeared to go well and then she was taken into the harem where she would wait to be called into his presence again.
It was in the harem where she learned that a wicked advisor of the king had plotted for the destruction of all the Jews in the realm. Her uncle admonished her that she needed to go before the king with a request that would result in the Jews being spared.
Esther must have trembled at the thought. She knew the rules included a demand that if she risked going to the king without him requesting her, she could lose her life if he saw her and did not extend the scepter.
If you know this story well, you know what happens. Esther became queen and God used her to save the Jews as her Uncle Mordecai gave her wise counsel.
I also saw a metaphor within this story during a recent reading of it.
None of us could come into the presence of a holy God. Our humanity (shot through with sin) could never come into the presence of his righteousness. All the slaughter of oxen, sheep, and doves could not accomplish access lost when Adam and Eve sinned.
But God’s love and mercy extended a holy scepter in the person of Jesus Christ. If we accepted this scepter (Jesus), we could come into God’s presence robed in the washed white garments Jesus provided.
We need not fear to come before God with our requests. The invitation has been extended. The scepter has already been offered. If our hearts will welcome his Son, we need not fear to come to Him.
Will we respond?