After Ruth, Esther is the only other woman in the Bible who has a book named after and largely devoted to her. The book of Esther tells the story of a Jewish girl whose original name was Hadassah. After losing her parents for reasons that we are not told, Esther was left an orphan and raised by her cousin, Mordecai. She later became Queen of Persia and was used by God to save her people from destruction. Chris Juby gives a short chapter-by-chapter summary of the entire book of Esther:
Esther 1: King Ahasuerus gave a feast for all his officials. Queen Vashti refused to come to him, so the wise men advised him to replace her.
Esther 2: Mordecai raised Esther. She was taken into the king’s harem and was chosen as queen. Mordecai told Esther of a plot against the king.
Esther 3: Ahasuerus promoted Haman, but Mordecai would not bow to him. Haman asked to destroy the Jews. The king gave his seal for the decree.
Esther 4: Mordecai asked Esther to plead with the king. Esther said, “Hold a fast. I will go to the king against the law, and if I die, I die.”
Esther 5: Esther won favour with the king. She said, “Let the king and Haman come to a feast tomorrow.” Haman built a gallows to hang Mordecai.
Esther 6: That night the king read about the plot against him. Haman came to ask about hanging Mordecai. The king told Haman to honour Mordecai.
Esther 7: At the feast, the king asked Esther, “What is your request?” She said, “My people have been sold by Haman.” The king had Haman hanged.
Esther 8: The king gave his ring to Mordecai. Mordecai sent letters to the provinces allowing the Jews to defend themselves. The Jews rejoiced.
Esther 9: On the day of the king’s decree, the Jews destroyed their enemies. Mordecai wrote to all the Jews and established the Feast of Purim.
Esther 10: Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus.
Esther was both beautiful and brave, a wise heroine who trusted in God and did not fear man. Here are three things we can learn from the life of Queen Esther.
1. Esther was prepared for her purpose. In chapter 2, we are told that Esther and the other young women who were brought to the palace, had to undergo twelve months of preparation before seeing the king. For an entire year, nothing significant happened to Esther, but Esther did not stress about her future. She remained patient, trusted God, and listened to the advice of the custodian of the women.
Before winning a medal in any sport, you must first prepare by eating right, exercising, and training often. Before starring on stage, you must first prepare behind the scenes by memorizing lines, undergoing makeup, and getting in the right costume. Before becoming a doctor or lawyer, you must first prepare by going to the right school, reading the right books, and performing mock trials and surgeries. Before we can successfully fulfill the purpose God has given us, we must allow ourselves to be prepared. God’s preparation can sometimes take a long time. Joseph was in prison for several years before God raised him up and put him in charge of all of Egypt. Moses was watching sheep in the desert for forty years before God called him to free the people of Israel out of bondage. Despite being crowned king as a young man, David was without a crown and a throne for a long time because of Saul’s madness.
No matter how long the preparation takes, we can be assured that God’s timing is always right. If we are patient and trust in Him, when He is ready to use us, we will be ready to handle whatever blessing, difficulty, criticism, or success comes our way. We will be truly prepared to fulfill our purpose.
2. Esther did not allow her background to keep her down. Esther had a lot of things going against her. For one, she was a Jew living in exile in Persia; and second, she was an orphan. Because of her faith, none of this stopped her from letting God use her in a big way.
God can use you in a big way too. In fact, He desires more than anything to see you do great things for Him. Do not let your past keep you down. Esther was an orphan, but God saw her as a queen. You may just be an ordinary girl, but God sees you as a princess and a warrior, an extraordinary difference maker. Like Esther, He has placed you in our world ‘for such a time as this.’ Your background does not determine how high God can take you, your faith does.
3. Esther found favor in the sight of God and man. In those days, no one was supposed to go before the king unless he called them. Esther 5:1-2 reads: “Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house. So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter.” Because of her obedience to God and her faith in God on behalf of her people, Esther found favor in the sight of God who caused her to find favor in the sight of the king.
God touched the king’s heart to protect her from the law. He was so delighted to see her that he promised her request – up to half the kingdom – would be granted. Esther may have feared that she might perish, but she did not let her fear overcome her faith. With boldness and courage, she approached the king and humbly gave her petition and request. This gutsy move by Esther eventually had the wicked Haman put to death, the Jews saved, and God glorified.
When we live our lives in a way that is pleasing before God, we will find favor in His sight and He will help us find favor in the sight of others – proud kings and all. When we love God, we will be obedient to Him. And when we are obedient, we can be assured that God will work all things together for good. There is never any need for us to worry and fret, but always a reason for us to trust and obey.