Imagine a high-profile man with a trophy wife decides to sport her in front of his friends and colleagues from other countries, showing off how beautiful she is. Tired of being paraded around, she snaps back at him, “No!” This man has a lot of money, power, and influence. He can have what he wants. Now he's made to look bad resulting from her rude behavior. Feeling disrespected, he divorces her and sends her away. She loses his money and the prestige of being his wife. A young woman is spotted at another party much later by this man and he says, “She’s the one!” What he did to his ex-wife is news everywhere, so this lady knows all about it. But in spite of the repercussions, she says , “Yes.” This was a lot of pressure for Esther, the person we will focus on in this segment.
In the book of Esther from the Bible, Esther was taken captive with her adopted Uncle Mordecai during the Persian empire (Esther 2:5-7). King Xerxes was having a party with close friends and colleagues from all over, while his wife, Queen Vashti entertained the ladies of the palace. The king was drunk and decides to parade around his trophy wife, Vashti, but she refused. His advisers viewed that as a bad example for the other women in the kingdom, concerned that they will be disrespectful to their husbands. So he banished her from his presence as he was counseled, divorcing her in the third year of his reign. (Esther 1).
Now, even though the king had several wives and concubines, he wanted a new wife to become queen to replace Vashti. Young women were given beauty treatments for one full year in the king’s harem before being presented to the King. He chose Esther from all of the young virgins brought before him in the seventh year of his reign (Esther2:1-4, 12-14).
In the background, her Uncle Mordecai was coaching her carefully. She listened and did everything he told her, including not divulging her nationality. She also followed the eunuch Hegai’s suggestions before she spent her first night with the king. Quite honestly, Esther had some pretty big expectations to fill. During her marriage to King Xerxes, she had to be summoned by the king to come into his presence. She was now the trophy wife of the king, so all eyes were on her. Vashti likely was not living well, so that fate or worse would happen to Esther if she misstepped (Esther 2:15-20; 4:10-11)
To keep a long story short, King Xerxes orders a decree (law) that all of the Jews were to be killed at the recommendation of Haman, one of his advisors (Esther 3). When this news came to Esther with a request from Mordecai to plead for the Jews lives (Esther 4:1-4). She fully understood the risk her on her life by requesting to enter the king’s presence in his court without his summons.
Esther took the time to prepare the ground for the right time to ask the king to spare the lives of the Jews, her people. She fasted for three days before, then she went to the court and stood waiting to see if she would be accepted or not. The king held out the royal scepter and she touched it. He asked what she wanted, obviously pleased with her. She invited him to a banquet she prepared (Esther 5:1-8). I don’t know about you, but I would have been extremely shaky if I were in her royal slippers!
At the first banquet, the king and Haman were invited. It was at the second banquet that she told the king of the plot Haman had to kill her Uncle Mordecai. she also pleaded for her own life and the lives of her people, the Jews, to be spared. The king found out that Haman had tricked the king into signing the decree. So Haman was impaled on a pole he had set up for Mordecai (Esther 5:9-14; 7:9). Mordecai had been bestowed a belated honor earlier, and Esther and her people were safe (Esther 6:1-11; 7).
It took a lot of courage and trust in God to secure the future of Israel. Her bravery, The consideration of how her decision and actions could affect the future of her country, saved an entire nation. She did not have to listen to Mordecai, but either way her life was in jeopardy. I would like to give the character trait of bravery to one of Israel’s prominent women of the Old Testament.
Things to consider:
1. When something is wrong at work or school, what are you willing to risk to bring that to the attention to authorities? What does this mean for you? What will your action mean for others involved?
2. If God calls you to be in a place of honor or fame, how will that affect your behavior? In what ways can God use you in the new position compared to where you are currently?
3. If God bestowed wealth on you suddenly, how would you use it? In what ways can you use it to build His kingdom?
God bless you!
Picture of Esther from www.biblestudyoutlines.org
Additional commentary information from NKJV Study Bible, second edition by Thomas Nelson Publishers.Copyright 1997, 2007 by Thomas Nelson Inc.
Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary Volume 1: Old Testment by Kenneth L. Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III. Zondervan Publishing copyright 1994.