The book of Esther is one with a continuing plot, to understand what is happening in one chapter, the reader must have read the previous one. So I will remind you what conspired in chapter 1. King Ahasuerus had a great week long feast where the wine flowed freely. His queen Vashti hosted a similar feast for the women. On the seventh day of the feast, Ahasuerus called Vashti to come show herself to all the men, she refused and he became angry. Because of that he made an edict that banished her from his presence and required all wives to consider their husbands as masters.
No matter who you are or what the circumstances of your life, God can make you who He wants you to be. He can use every bad circumstance, every good circumstance, and any people He chooses to work good for you. You may have been born a pauper but God wants to make you more than a prince or princess. He has chosen to make you a king or queen. You only have to submit to His will and trust Him to do it.
Verses 1-4 continue the narrative.
After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. 2 Then the king's young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king's eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.
The king had made his decree in the heat of anger and now that he had calmed down, he regretted it. But once the king made a decree, it was a done deal. There was no going back, no saying ‘I changed my mind.’ Once he made a law, it was a law (Esther 8:8). Ecclesiastes 7:9 reads,
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
King Ahasuerus had been quick to get angry and acted foolishly. He missed Vashti. So the king needed a new queen. The young men who were attending him came up the idea of a sort of beauty contest, the winner would be queen. Ahasuerus liked the idea. He was not a follower of the Lord, though He had heard of the God of Israel from the Babylonian captives, people from history such as Daniel and kings like Darius. His rashness and folly was not consistent with God’s will yet God used it for His good purposes for Mordecai and Esther who we will meet in verses 5-8 eventually to save His people.
Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So when the king's order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king's palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women.
The reason that Mordecai and Esther were even in Persia was the result of the captivity. For whatever reason Esther’s parents were dead and she had been raised by her cousin Mordecai. Those are difficult and sad circumstances. But Mordecai was a man dedicated to The Lord and dedicated to giving the best to Esther. God had made Esther beautiful. Her beauty stood out, was noticed and she was taken into the king’s harem.
God has made you unique, beautiful, and with natural gift and talents. You are not meant to suppress who God created you to be, but to shine. When God created man He considered His work as very good. Look at what God had to say about creating us in Genesis 1:26-31.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
We are made in His image! That is a really big deal. We were given the whole wide world to enjoy. He created us to kings and queens. He considers us beautiful. We have all struggled. We have all been told who we are by the world. We are this race, that social status, this family, and destined to hit whatever ceiling that identity gives us. But God says you are so much more! He says, ‘It doesn’t matter who your family is, what your race is, or how poor or rich you are. It matters who I say you are.’ He doesn’t have glass ceilings. Psalm 45:10-17 describe how The Lord sees you.
Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father's house,
11 and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12 The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.
13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
with her virgin companions following behind her.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.
16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.
Esther let her beauty shine, not vainly but she conveyed it naturally. She believed it was the truth and she expressed it in humility and kindness. She had modesty and benevolence which led people to like her. Verses 9-11 read,
And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king's palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.
Because Esther was not afraid to be herself and because she was humble and kind she was advanced to the best place in the harem, making it easier for the king to take notice when it was time. But it wasn’t time yet. Though all the women were beautiful, they were to be made even more so. They were to be treated like royalty so that they could look like royalty. Verses 12-14 read,
Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women--13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king's palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.
The king’s standards of beauty were higher. Some of the women might have been noble, but they were not queens. They had lived and worked as whatever their backgrounds consisted of. They were being made new. They were being treated with oil of myrrh and spices and ointments. A great deal of expense was being devoted toward making them over.
When we come to Jesus, He doesn’t leave us the same; He doesn’t leave us as who the world says we are. He makes us over and gives us new identities. He makes us over with His blood. Before He laid down His life, He was anointed with perfumes, myrrh, and ointments more than once (Luke 7:36-50, Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8). When He was crucified for us, His body was treated with myrrh, spices, and ointments (John 19:39-40). When He resurrected He chose to anoint us with those things by His blood and His Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 reads,
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
When the right time came, Esther was wise enough to listen to counsel from others, to be humble and trust that those who knew the king would know how she could best please him. Verses 15-18 read,
When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther's feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.
She walked in to the royal palace as Esther daughter of Abihail, she left as Queen Esther. She was born Hadassah, became an orphan and raised by her cousin. But God chose her to become a queen. Hadassah is a name that describes the sweet fragrance of a myrtle tree, considered to be a tree of righteousness. Esther let the perfume of her beauty, humility, and kindness be a pleasant aroma for all those around her. She let God define her, not her circumstance. And God took her willingness and made her Queen Esther, a heroine of her people.