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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Drunken King, a Pretty Orphan Girl and God (Esther 4:12-14)

 "When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this."

God's ways are not our ways. The chance that a drunken king's life would intersect with that of an orphan girl is slim yet God intersects the paths of this unlikely pair in a most unusual way for the redemption of His people.

Drunkenness and decadence characterize King Xerxes' reign. The influence of strong drink during a party affects his sense of judgment as he demands that his queen "strut her stuff" before his drunken court assembly. Queen Vashti's refusal angers Xerxes and her removal, as queen, creates a vacancy in the throne room. Queen Vashti's beauty closes doors of prominence and power while the beauty of an orphan girl opens doors that would otherwise remain closed.

God didn't make Esther beautiful just for the sake of beauty. Her beauty positions her as an intercessor on behalf of her people. Her beauty is a trust. From God. For God's people.

God gives certain people certain gifts that set them apart from others, not above others, for His own special use. Had Esther been average-looking she would not have been a candidate for future queen. We think that beautiful people seem to catch all of the breaks (like Rachel, the younger sister), but with beauty comes responsibility. Had Esther chosen only to live the life of a beauty queen, this 17th book of the Bible would look quite different both in title and in content. Because Esther chose to be more than just a beauty queen we, who study her life, can see and experience God's providential maneuverings in our own lives.

Several truths that I see about beautiful women from this passage:
  • Powerful men are drawn to beautiful women, putting beautiful women in the spotlight and at the same time, in compromising situations.
  • Beautiful women have unique problems due to their beauty that other women don't have.
  • Beautiful women are often envied for their good looks (and the perks that accompany being beautiful) and rejected by other women instead of embraced by them, making them some of the loneliest people. They need friends who see below the surface and accept them.
  • Because their beauty gives them visibility, beautiful women have great opportunities to influence for good or for evil.
Beautiful women, then, aren't to be envied but prayed for and embraced.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
  • Under what conditions does Xerxes command the appearance of Queen Vashti at his banquet and why does she refuse?
  • Who are Mordecai and Hadassah?
  • Who does God use to move Esther/Hadassah into a pivotal position?
  • How many years pass between the decadent party and Hadassah's being brought before the king?
  • How does Xerxes celebrate Esther's coronation? What does this tell you about Xerxes?
  • Why does Esther keep her background secret? What does this tell you about Esther?
  • Describe Mordecai's loyalty to the king. What happens as a result of this event? (2:23)
  • Why does Haman hate Mordecai?
  • How does Mordecai respond to Haman's edict?
  • What does Mordecai recognize about Esther's position?
Turning truth into prayer
God is always at work in our world. He accomplishes His purposes even through drunken kings and orphan girls. Thank the Lord that your are fearfully and uniquely made for God's own special purposes.