Boldness, courage, faith, selflessness… the book of Esther has it all. This short book in the Old Testament is worth the read.
As a quick summary, allow me to preface the general storyline:
Esther is a beautiful young Jewish woman living during the reign of King Xerxes in the Persian Empire. The king has no relation to an average woman such as Esther, but of course God has his divine hand in every story.
During a great feast, Xerxes’ wife, Vashti, falls into disfavor with the king for refusing to appear in court with her drunk and boastful husband. As a result, Vashti’s time as queen has come to an end, and Xerxes begins a search for a new wife.
Enter Esther. It doesn’t take long for Esther to capture the heart of everyone she meets, including the king. Xerxes has found his new queen.
Before becoming queen, Esther was raised by her cousin, Mordecai, who continues to support and help her, even after she moves to the palace. One day, in the presence of Xerxes’ right-hand man, Haman, Mordecai refuses to bow. He becomes a subject of hate by the arrogant Haman. Haman convinces the king to kill not only Mordecai for his “disrespectful” actions, but all Jews in the land.
Mordecai learns of this decree and turns to the queen for help. He begs her to save her people, and she agrees. Approaching the king without being summoned could result in death, even for the queen. But Esther remains courageous, finds a way to speak and reason with the king, and saves her people.
While the story is brief, Esther remains one of the most revered women in the Bible.
Her bravery and faith continues to inspire. Esther is amazing not only because of what she did for her people, but also because of what her story teaches:
1) God is always present and is always designing a perfectly timed story, even if we cannot sense it.
There are countless events that led up to Esther becoming queen, that lead to Haman’s desire to destroy all the Jews of the land, and that lead to Esther’s show of bravery and ability to save her people. But this story could not have played out this way without God’s hand. Haman, being the power-hungry man that he was, could have desired revenge against the Jews at any time. But he didn’t, at least not until God placed Esther in the position to protect them. From the seed that encouraged Vashti to refuse the king, to Esther’s bravery to protect her people, God intricately weaved every event together into a story with perfect timing. While God is not mentioned once in this book, there is an overwhelming sense of his divine presence and of the circumstances that were too perfect to be coincidence.
Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, utters a statement that perfectly illustrates God’s timing:
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Esther cannot know God’s plan fully, but she does know that he brought her to the palace during a crucial time. That alone speaks volumes; that alone speaks to his plan for her life. Esther wasn’t simply in the right place at the right time. She was put in the right place in God’s right time. How many times do we think of God’s plan this way? How many times do we act on the fact that God puts us in positions for a reason?
2) We are called to be courageous and brave for Him.
I honestly do not know if I would have Esther’s courage to stand up to her husband, the king, if I knew that I would be putting my life on the line. Esther needed to speak to the king to stop his decree and save her people, but she couldn’t simply walk up to him unless he first sought her. It was a law of the land that nobody, not even the queen, could approach the king without first being summoned by him. Esther knows this, saying “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16) She had the courage to potentially sacrifice herself for her people and for God’s will! She was willing to give up her life for God.
A lot of times we are only willing to live in accordance to God’s will if it is our desire, if it’s convenient for us, and if it is something that we’re comfortable doing.
Sometimes, we are selfish even in the ways we live for God. I cannot say for certain, but I do not think that Esther’s desire was to die. Her greater desire was to live in accordance to God’s will for her life. That meant showing courage and doing things that she wasn’t comfortable with, and risking her life for Him.
This is a lesson that we can take from Esther: it may not always be easy, and it may be difficult or even frightening, but God has a plan for our lives, and we must have faith and be courageous in living it.
3) God wants to use us for His will, and we have to be open to what that might mean.
God has grand plans for all of our lives! I cannot emphasize that enough! Sure, it may not mean saving an entire people the way Esther did, but that doesn’t mean our plan is any less important.
What makes Esther’s story so inspiring is not what she did, but the way she was open to God’s plan. Esther gave herself to God so that he could use her. She opened that door for him. Esther could have easily turned away in fear, but she stood strong knowing God was on her side.