Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Sing to God, sing praises to His name, cast up a highway for Him who rides through the deserts – His name is the Lord - be in high spirits and glory before Him!”
Psalm 68: 4
A Grateful Heart
“Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more – a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Today’s Study Text:
“So Esther was taken unto King Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.”
Esther 2: 16, 17
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“Grace and Favour in the Sight of the King” Part 15
“A sense of relationship to God can give you a sense of self-worth. You can feel free before men. You don’t have to clutch for their favor. A person who doesn’t clutch at others seems all the more desirable.”
How would I have felt being taken in before King Ahasuerus as Esther was?
What qualities do I think Esther possessed that attracted not only the king but all those who saw Esther?
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things, fix your mind on them.”
The day had finally arrived. Esther was told by Hegai, the king’s chamberlain, that she was to go before King Ahasuerus. For her grand appearance before royalty, Esther was offered “whatsoever she desired” (Esther 2: 13). But we find out that in Esther’s mind, her view was “the simpler the better.” It may well have been that after seeing so many young women “fancied-up,” that the natural look caught the immediate attention of the king. Thus we are told that when Esther arrived in the royal palace and the king saw her, that he placed the “crown upon her head” (Esther 2: 17, K.J.V.).
There’s been quite a great deal of discussion through the years as attempts are made to, in my humble opinion, degrade the moral value found in Esther. Many of the comments center on the passage of Scripture found in Esther 2: 14 where we are told that in the evening a woman would go in with the king and in the morning she would be returned to the “custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain which kept the concubines.”
If we look at what transpired during this time in history, one could make the case that once a young maiden, specifically a virgin, was taken by the king’s keepers, she became part of the royal court – part of his harem. And I’m certain many women viewed life in the royal palace to be quite an honor. Maybe even a step up from life in the desert.
But we must never let our sight be distracted regarding the “heavenly calling” which was bestowed upon young Esther.
While it is true that she, like many other beautiful young women, was taken to potentially be a replacement for Vashti, God’s hand was over every activity in Esther’s life, whether she recognized this fact or not. As Pastor Charles Swindoll observes, “What you have to keep in mind is that Esther didn’t have the foggiest idea that any of this (God’s providential leading) was going on; she knew nothing of the events transpiring in the royal palace. She also knew nothing yet about the ‘royal edict’ which would set events in motion that would totally change her own life. Esther was going about her no-big-deal business, living her life, greeting the sunrise of each ordinary morning, carrying out her day-to-day responsibilities. Was she in for a surprise!”
I really appreciate this last phrase: “Was she in for a surprise!” How could a young Esther realize that God had chosen her: a young girl, orphaned and living in a foreign land to become the queen of Persia. Frankly, this scenario sounds so ridiculous, it’s like a fairy tale.
It may be that you are sitting here reading and shaking your head as you think about your own life. Circumstances haven’t transpired in any way that you could have planned for. All the events in your world appear to have fallen apart and what you thought God was doing has blown up in your face.
Like Esther, you may feel you’ve been locked away for a very long time. You can’t understand why God would allow your talents to be buried and hidden away. But from all outward appearances, this is exactly what has happened. And this horrid “waiting time” in your eyes and mine appears to be “wasted time!”
Let me point out that Esther wasn’t the only daughter of God who probably had second thoughts about how God was at work in her life. Think about Deborah in the book of Judges. We find that this judge and prophetess didn’t start out leading the children of Israel. If we had lived in Israel at the time of Deborah’s service, we wouldn’t have found her on a throne, instead she “dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah.” How’s that for some big executive suite? We are told that “between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim” is where Deborah was stationed. (Judges 4: 4, 5, K.J.V.) Long before she joined Barak and Jael in the routing of Sisera’s army, before she led a battle-cry for revival, she could daily be found under a palm tree, a tree they named after her, Deborah’s palm – giving wise counsel and trusting God as she proved to be a faithful witness for the Almighty.
Or think for a moment about a young girl named Mary who had an angel show up at her house who told this young maiden, “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1: 28, K.J.V.). I have often wondered how Mary felt on that day when the sun came up, normally, just like any other day. However, by eventide, this young maiden found out she was carrying the Son of God within her body. For as the angel promised this “chosen” girl, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1: 32, K. J.V.).
Whether Esther was aware of how God was working in her life isn’t the point of the book of Esther and guess what, it isn’t the point of your life story or mine either. Every day for that year, when Esther was being pampered and prepared to meet King Ahasuerus, God was busily working as well. As Margaret Hess reminds us, “Esther did not depend upon her beauty, nor upon Ahasuerus. She put her trust in God, even in this situation. If God wanted her to win, she would win. If He wanted her to pass unnoticed, she would pass unnoticed. Your relationship to God proves of greater importance than your relationship to any human being. God loves you. Knowing that enables you to respect and love yourself. A sense of God’s love can give you dignity and self-respect in any situation.”
“I want – to borrow from the language of the saints – to live in grace as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony! I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaldrus when he said, ‘May the outward and inward (woman) man be one.’ I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift From the Sea
“Beauty is God’s handwriting.
Welcome it in every fair face,
every fair day, every fair flower.”
She Walks in Beauty
“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.”
“A woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised! Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates of the city.”
Proverbs 31: 30, 31
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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