After King Xerxes banishes Queen Vashti from his presence, he regrets his rash decision, his irrevocable edict. His aides suggest that he find a replacement. They round up the most beautiful virgins in the land for the king to try out (yes, it’s as bad as it sounds). The most pleasing one will be crowned queen.
This isn’t a voluntary beauty pageant. It’s conscripted service that forces the selected women into a harem. Esther, also called Hadassah, is rounded up in the dragnet. She waits at least four years for her assigned time to spend the evening with the king.
After she sleeps with the king, he proclaims her queen.
When Haman plots the Jews’ extermination, Mordecai challenges Esther, his relative and adopted daughter, to intervene with the king on the Jews’ behalf. She balks. It’s been a month since she’s seen the king, and she risks immediate execution by appearing before him without a summons. Mordecai begs Esther to take the risk, saying, “What if God put you in your position to address this exact situation?”
Eventually she agrees. “If I die, then I die,” she says.
In preparation, Esther fasts for three days and asks others to fast with her.
When she approaches the king, he spares her life. Instead of directly appealing to him, however, she invites him and Haman to a private banquet with her that night. She then requests they come a second evening. At this second dinner, she reveals Haman’s plot, appealing to the king for justice.
Because of her actions, Haman is executed, and the Jews are granted the right to defend themselves and attack their enemies.
The festival of Purim celebrates Esther and her heroics in saving her people.
Though she took time to pray and fast, Esther bravely set her own safety aside and risked her life to save others.
Are we willing to work to save the lives of others even if it puts ours in jeopardy? What risks will we endure to do what’s right?
[Read Esther’s story in Esther 2–10.]
Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.