Who was she?
Esther was a young Jewish woman who grew up in Persia, she had been raised by her cousin Mordecai, who had adopted her after both her parents had died. Esther’s family originally came from Jerusalem and had been included in those who were taken by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon into exile. The bible doesn’t tell us how old she is but that she is very beautiful and based on the fact that she wasn’t yet married, we can guess that she would have been fairly young, likely under the age of 20.
Although her cousin loved her and cared for her since she was very young, it must have been hard for her not having a mother figure to turn to.
How did God use her?
The King who was ruling at the beginning of Esther’s story was a man named King Xerxes, a proud and vain man who liked to insure people always knew he was in charge. After his wife, Queen Vashti embarrassed him at a party in front of his friends by disobeying his orders he decided it was time he found a new wife. For him that meant summoning every beautiful young virgin in the land to be brought before him so he could pick his new queen.
Esther was favoured by the man in charge of this process and he gave her lots of healthy, delicious food and beauty treatments before her introduction to the King. All of the girls would have gone through this process of “getting ready” to see the King, a process which actually took 12 months!!! I imagine it would have been a bit like spending a year of your life in a spa, but with people you’ve never met before, being told what treatments you can have and no contact with your family – not necessarily my preference for a year-long spa trip. But for Esther it all paid off and the King fell head over heels for her and made her his queen.
Meanwhile Esther’s cousin Mordecai was part of the group of king’s servants who would hang out at the King’s gate. The King’s righ-hand man was called Haman and he wasn’t very nice at all. There was a command that every time Haman went past, everyone would have to bow down but Mordecai always refused. When Haman found out about Mordecai’s defiance he was not impressed to say the least. Haman was so furious that he made a plan to have not only Mordecai killed, but ALL the jews, and worse still, the king agreed he could go ahead with his plan!! How awful is that?
The king had no idea that Esther was a jew, for Mordecai had always told her not to mention it. Perhaps he knew that she would be more vulnerable to discrimination? Either way, a massacre of the jews was being put in to motion and once the king had agreed to something there wasn’t much stopping it.
But this was the moment that Esther was to come into her own. She was in a position of power and influence, and although she may have been safe because no one knew she was a Jew, the only family she had left, and the community she had grown up with would all be wiped out.
Mordecai urged her to go and speak to the king and Esther took great courage in deciding to do so. It wasn’t like modern day marriages as we may know them, you couldn’t just pop down stairs to have a chat. If you approached the king without being summoned – wife or not – you could be sentenced to death. It was seen as a big disrespect!
But Esther didn’t have time on her hands and so after asking Mordecai and the rest of the jews to fast and pray with her, she prepared a banquet for the King and Haman so that the King’s heart would be softer to her and she could make her request known. She asked for the Jew’s and her cousin Mordecai to be spared, and the king granted it to her.
It sounds pretty straight forward, but this was a big risk for Esther! Before this moment, the Jews were nobody to the King. Her position as queen was helpful, but it was her courage and faith in God that won the battle. God used Esther’s voice to save her people.
What can we learn from her?
Esther was a woman of integrity and courage. She saw the opportunity her position of privilege gave her and chose to risk it all for the benefit of others – even if it would ultimately cost her her life.
Esther shows us that sometimes God puts us in certain situations for a reason, and it can be years and years before the reason is revealed to us. That’s why we must always trust that God is in control, that no matter what season you’re going through, whether you feel irrelevant or insignificant you can believe that God is still using you as part of His great plan.
I’m certain there were plenty of moments that Esther felt lonely and unimportant. The life of a king’s wife in those times was not always as glamorous as we may imagine. But she never forgot where she came from, who she was, and most importantly who her God was.
Never forget who you are, a daughter of the one and only God! You are chosen, set apart and have been created with purpose.
Never underestimate a moment in your life – it could be the moment you were made for.
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief to the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this” – Esther 4:14
You can read Esther’s story in the book of Esther, obvs!