Scripture Reading: Esther 2, Proverbs 31:10-31
Well, I have to admit; the circumstances of Esther’s appointment as queen are a bit… gritty.
I wish I could say that everything in the book of Esther is beautiful because it’s in the Bible. But the truth is, the Old Testament is filled with the stories of ordinary people who make extraordinarily bad choices. Yes, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching” (2 Timothy 3:16), but clearly, we aren’t meant to emulate the idol-loving Jezebel, the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, or the murderous Cain.
It’s not Esther I take issue with; it’s her circumstances. I can’t help but read her story and feel a little disturbed by the idea of a young woman kept in a harem. It’s creepy to imagine a king trying out different women until he picks his favorite. And it sure seems like Esther was beloved largely because of her looks (Esther 2:15). I suppose that makes her sound eerily similar to a contestant on some reality television show. It makes for an entertaining show, but it’s surely not showcasing the most life-giving way to date in real life.
So then, what can we learn from Esther’s appointment as queen?
First of all, it is good to remember that God works through imperfect circumstances. I don’t know about you, but that’s a huge relief to me. Contrary to the gospel of social media, we don’t need to have perfect lives for God to move in our lives. Esther was a persecuted orphan girl living in a brothel, but the Lord used her to save His people in a big way.
The heart of the Father is to bring beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). This is demonstrated in His redeeming work again and again, through the imperfect circumstances of Scripture’s heroes and heroines. Esther is a godly woman who’s called to act in a precarious situation. What you might notice is that Esther took the wise counsel of those she trusted, keeping her ethnicity a secret until the right time as Mordecai advised, and adorning herself as the king’s eunuch instructed.
Sure, Esther could have been prideful, determining she ultimately knew best. She could have blurted out her secret and chosen her own fashion statements. But had she gone that route, it might have changed the king’s reaction and the entire story.
So was Esther passive or humble? Weak or wise?
While the circumstances surrounding Esther’s story may raise a few eyebrows in today’s culture, the woman herself seems to be an admirable and fierce role model. Esther knew that “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,” but the wisdom found in learning to fear the Lord does not fade (Proverbs 31:30). Out of wisdom and humility, she sought the help she needed. And through that counsel, God gave her the courage to walk into a life-threatening situation on behalf of His people.
Esther trusted in her God and in His perfect will. Through her story, we are reminded that our pasts are never too crooked, our circumstances never too disappointing, to take part in the world-changing work of our heavenly Father.
Kaitie Stoddard is a professional counselor who recently relocated from Chicago to Colorado with her husband. She has her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is passionate about helping couples and families find healing in their relationships. On any given weekend you’re likely to find Katie snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, checking out new restaurants with friends, or catching up on her favorite Netflix and podcast series.