In the book of Esther, the Bible records times when evil seemed to overpower good. Can we relate these days? Let’s look at some life lessons from Queen Esther about strength, grace, and confidence that God will come to our aid in times like these.
For Such a Time as This
When King Xerxes (also called King Ahasuerus) wanted to replace Queen Vashti, his advisors brought all the young women of Persia including Esther to the palace. Esther was beautiful. In addition to her outer beauty, she displayed grace and good character. So, Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her including the king. He then chose her to be his new queen.
Later, unbeknownst to Queen Esther, Haman, an enemy of the Jews, convinced the king to sign an edict to put to death every Jewish person including women and children throughout the Persian empire. Furthermore, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, no decree or edict that the king issued could be changed. (Daniel 6:15)
Mordecai, the Jewish leader and Queen Esther’s cousin who had raised her after her parents died, learned of the fate of himself and his people. He was distraught. Then, he and the Jews in the city of Susa put on sackcloth, fasted, and wailed.
When Queen Esther saw him, she inquired. Mordecai sent word to her about the edict and the fate of their people. Next, he advised her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy. He instructed her to plead with the king for her people. However, Esther replied to Mordecai that anyone who goes to the king in the inner court who is not summoned will be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live.
Although the king, and Haman, were unaware of Queen Esther’s Jewish heritage, Mordecai explained the consequences to Esther if she did not go to the king that she too would perish. Mordecai also said, “And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this?”
Strength and Grace
Then, Esther took action.
Looking to the God of heaven to deliver them, Esther asked her attendants in the palace and the Jewish people there in Susa to fast with her for three days and nights.
Although God is not mentioned by name in the book of Esther, we see by Mordecai, Esther, and the Jews’ sackcloth and fasting that they were earnestly looking to God to intervene on their behalf. We understand this because the Bible records different situations in which the Jewish people fasted and put on sackcloth. They did this to humble themselves before God, seek Him, cry out to him, call on him earnestly and repent. (Ezra 8:21, Joel 1:14, Jonah 3:1-10, Isaiah 58:5)
Since Esther had not been summoned to the king’s inner court, she could lose her life by going. Yet, Esther dressed in her royal clothing and went. As soon as the king saw her standing in the courtyard, she gained favor with him. He extended his scepter to her and so her life was spared. She then had an audience with the king.
Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet for two nights in a row. When the king asked her, “And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if the king is pleased, spare my life; this is my request. And spare my people; this is my desire. For my people and I have been sold to destruction, death, and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept silent. Indeed, the trouble wouldn’t be worth burdening the king.”
Then, when asked, Esther told the king that Haman was responsible. The king was enraged. Immediately Haman was put to death. Soon after, the king commissioned a new edict to be written to protect the Jews.
What we can learn from Esther
Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. Although there are many things we can learn from reading this book, I find these seven life lessons from Queen Esther particularly impactful for Christian women that we may have hope and encouragement:
- Esther did not lose heart in the midst of difficult circumstances. Even though her parents died and she was raised by her cousin, we do not see any evidence that Esther had a negative disposition or allowed these losses in her past to dishearten or hinder her.
- Esther was gracious. The unexpected event of being forced to leave her home and gathered with all the young women of Persia at the palace could have easily unsettled and even angered her. However, there seems to be no unpleasant attitude or bitterness in Esther. She won the favor of everyone who saw her because of her grace and exemplary character.
- Esther was respectful of the authority in her life. She showed great respect and esteem for Mordecai, who was her cousin and raised her as his own daughter and toward her husband, the king. She also demonstrated a teachable spirit since she accepted advice from Mordecai.
- Esther was humble. Esther was beautiful and had great favor with the king, but she was aware that legally she could be put to death for entering the inner court without being summoned. She showed humility and honor when she spoke with the king.
- Esther acknowledged God’s sovereignty. With help from Mordecai, Esther recognized that God had placed her exactly where she was for His purpose.
- Esther wholeheartedly sought God. She showed that she was wholeheartedly dependent on God. She earnestly sought help from him as she asked her attendants and the Jews in Susa to fast with her. When Esther sought the Lord, He heard and answered.
- Esther was courageous. She was willing to be available to be used by God for His purpose even when doing so was uncomfortable, inconvenient and scary.
May we prayerfully consider these life lessons from Esther. May we, like Esther, even when faced with adversity and evil itself, be women of strength and grace for such a time as this.