I met her through the pages of a book. She was queen during a tumultuous time. There are some things about her story that don’t make sense, but I have to leave that with God.
During the course of her life, she used her power to win favor with the king. That favor saved her life and the life of her own people. Truly, she was in that palace for such a time as this.
But first, the back story. Esther was an orphan named Hadassah. When her parents died, her cousin Mordecai took her in as his own child and named her Esther. He was a man of prestige and wisdom, and one of influence. He “sat in the king’s gate” so he knew what was going on in the palace and Persia, where this story takes place. It reminds me a little of the folks who stop in at small post offices and hang around for a while; they come home with all the scoop.
The king of Persia ruled over 127 states from India to Cush – known as Persia today. His queen was Vashti, and she was beautiful. The king had a banquet that lasted 180 days; the purpose of the banquet was to showcase his wealth, riches, and glory. Not only did he like good food, he loved wine. He liked plenty of wine, and he was generous with his guests as well.
When he wanted his queen to come to the banquet so everyone could see her beauty, she refused. The queen was dethroned because of her bad example to other women in the palace and country. Before long, the search for a new queen was on. We know the king liked beauty, food, wine, women, and prestige.
The king’s wise men suggested he find a new queen by combing the entire countryside to find the most beautiful girls. After twelve months of beauty treatments, the girls would be brought to him, one by one. They left the palace in the evening and returned to a different part of the palace, where Shasashagaz, another eunuch, was in charge of the slave women kept there. The one who delighted the king the most would become queen.
Esther was beautiful and had a good figure. She was chosen to go to the palace. No, she did not have a choice. Mordecai instructed her to tell no one that she was a Jew. The story tells us that Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the girls, liked Esther and moved quickly to begin her beauty treatments. When it was her turn to go to the king, she only used cosmetics suggested by Hegai. Esther knew Hegai knew the king, and she realized she was safest following his suggestions. She was already learning how to appeal.
By the time Esther is made queen, we learn she chose to listen to the advice of Mordecai and Hegai, with good results.
Trouble brewing – and a request for an appeal
Trouble started when Haman was promoted and Mordecai refused to bow down to him. Haman hated the Jews and wanted nothing more than to get rid of Mordecai. Not only did he want Mordecai out of his life, he wanted all Jews out of his life. He devised a plan – and got the king’s signet ring stamp – allowing the people to rise up against all Jews, kill them, and take their possessions. Mordecai begged Esther to speak to the king in order to save her people.
But she told Mordecai, ‘”Everybody knows that anyone who goes in to the king without permission will be killed unless the king holds out his golden scepter. I haven’t even been called in to him for thirty days.”
That’s when Mordecai told her, “Perhaps you’ve been brought to the palace for such a time as this.” Just maybe, he told her, you’re in the palace not because of your beauty, but because God put you there to save your people. Don’t think, just because you are queen, you will be spared, he warned Esther.
Esther plans how to appeal
Esther knew her cousin was right. She also knew that going in to see the king uninvited could cost her her life. So she prepared and she planned her approach to the king. For a girl so seemingly young, she was smart.
She knew what the king liked; she knew how he was wired, and she knew what could set him off. Esther planned accordingly and decided how to appeal.
Esther also prepared. She asked Mordecai to tell the people to fast for three days; she and her maidens were going to fast also. Esther reckoned with the fact that her plan could cause her death. Yet she was ready. “If I perish, I perish,” she said. She decided to do what she could; she would use her position and her power to try to save her people. If she died trying, so be it.
What I learned from Esther on to how appeal
Esther timed things right.
She started by making her husband curious. She showed up, unannounced, but not unprepared. Esther risked her life, when she went in before the king. The story tells us the king held out the golden scepter to her; she came forward and touched the scepter. What is the significance of that action? Did she touch the scepter to calm her shaking hand? Was it to show that she recognized he spared her life in that moment?
The king asked what she wanted, and she merely invited him to a banquet in his honor. She piqued his interest and he found her interesting. He went to the banquet because it was “prepared for him” at her request. He wanted to know what she was really behind her simple request.
Esther piqued his interest by keeping him guessing.
The king was ready to give her what she wanted, even half of his kingdom. But to keep him guessing, she merely invited him to another banquet. We know the king loved banquets and feasting. He proved that by his previous banquets. She invited him to not one, but two different banquets on two different days. This was part of her battle plan. Yes, she knew how to appeal!
Esther presented herself well.
We know the king loved riches and beauty; Esther came dressed appropriately. She did this because it was how she should present herself as queen; but I am certain she made doubly sure she looked her very best. Esther wanted to look good so the king would want to grant her favor. This was part of her plan to appeal.
Esther prayed and had others pray with her.
She knew going in before the king could cost her her life. Esther asked Mordecai to tell the Hebrews to fast and pray. The queen had her maids fast and pray with her, even though they were not Hebrews themselves! She knew the only way the king would hear her was through the power of God. This wasn’t a quick prayer. They fasted and prayed for three days and three nights. This was the footwork for her plan to appeal.
A correct appeal carries no guarantee of outcome.
When we have to do battle, God gives us the battle plan. We are not guaranteed things will be easy or that we will win in the way we hope. Esther knew – and was prepared – that she might die. She also knew she was not alone, and the battle was His. When we cooperate with Him in fighting His battle, He will be victorious, and so – no matter the outcome -we will share in His victory.
Photo attribution belongs to The Glory Story under Free Bible Images.