Esther – Part 1

I’m linking up with I am Just One Girl today for her new series. Chasing History.  Exploring women of the bible and what their stories mean for us today.  Won’t you pop over here and join us?


I remember sitting in my grandmother’s hard Christian Reformed church, the one with the hard pews.  I was young, perhaps 9 or 10.  My legs would swing back and forth as my feet could not yet touch the floor.  Every so often,  while watching the pendulum of my pretty shoes one heel would strike the bottom of the pew and bring about a thud that had my grandmother grabbing my knee and putting her finger to her lips.  An act that would not only still my legs, but have me slouching down in my seat with my arms crossed in petulance.

I was bored.  Beyond my mind bored.  The sermon droned on. And on.  And on.  I had already been given my allotment of King Peppermints so even the contest of seeing how long I could make the spicy, sweet treat last was over. 

It was on one of these Sundays, after the shushing and the empty candy wrapper that I pulled out the hardcover NIV Bible sitting in the pew rack.  Still somewhat unfamiliar with the book I began my finger trace down the index.  The name Esther jumped off the page and somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered Sunday School Classes and flannel boards and colouring pages that talked of heroism and the under -dog. 

The book of Esther became my salvation from boredom and I would read it over and over again.

And in this ancient story that whispered to me from the skin-thin pages of that Bible, there was an echo of truth that would cover  my boredom.  That time honoured tradition of cheering for the underdog.  The losing team.  The person that, if they didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any luck at all. 

So this week  I poured over the pages of my study bible and with a few clicks of my mouse I uncovered some interesting facts about our young heroine.  

She was an orphan.  Both parents dead.  She was dependent upon Mordecai and his family, and she was raised as one of His daughters.  They were Jews living in a strange land.  They had not yet been able to return home to Jerusalem where the temple had been rebuilt after its destruction by the Babylonians.  We also learn that Esther was not her only name .  At birth, the name that was chosen for her was, Hadassah. (Esther 2:7)

Hadassah is a name that is derived from the word “myrtle,”  a type of tree.  The leaves of a myrtle tree only release their fragrance when they are crushed.  The more you read about Esther’s bravery and heroism the more the meaning of her name becomes significant.

So let’s dig in, shall we?

Esther was beautiful to behold, an ancient Snow White, her beauty was beyond compare.  So much so that the King’s eunuch, Hegai, took a shine to her (that’s tad bit ironic don’t you think – he was  an ummm… eunuch after all). Hegai made sure she was treated better than all others in the King’s harem.  She was given the best rooms, the best food and assigned 7 maids to wait on her every need – and she hadn’t even been crowned queen of the land. 

All of this pampering took 12 months.   Did you catch that?  The woman had the longest spa day on record – 12 months to look and be presentable for the King.  I’m lucky if I get a homemade mani/pedi done in a 45 minute window between dinner and laundry.  Oh the life eh?

But little did Esther know that as she was getting her nails buffed and eyes charcoaled  her actions, her breaking of the rules would save her people from a certain destruction.  Little did she know that her common sense would be crushed by her sense of duty and that she would take a risk that could land her on the gallows. 

Mordecai had ticked off Haman.  Haman plotted and stewed and pontificated to his family.  He wanted blood and it wasn’t just Mordecai’s that he wanted.  Nope – homicide wasn’t good enough, genocide was better.  So he conned a king to sign a decree, an edict, that would see the destruction of Jews less than a year. 

With a nation’s future walking a tight rope Mordecai enters a deep mourning and begins to wail and weep outside the city walls.  Esther catches wind of this and sends out garments to replace the sackcloth and ashes and begs him to stop his racket.  Mordecai refuses and sends a message back to Esther.  Go to the King.  Tell him of Haman’s evil plot. 

Fix this.  You are queen after all.

I can just imagine her.  Lounging on a couch, clothed in the best robes, gold in her hair.  The best food at her hands, servants just waiting to serve.  A young Jewess elevated to a place of stature.  An orphan raised in exile with no hope of returning home.  She was not where she was supposed to be.

Or was she?

Esther pleads with Mordecai.   Begs him to understand.  The fate of Queen Vashti is, I’m sure, running through her mind with vivid detail.  She can’t go to the King unannounced.  He hasn’t called for her in over a month.  It’s disrespectful.  It’s against protocol.  It’s just not done.  It’s certain death.  A suicide mission.

Little did she know. 

“What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:14

Red lips.  Buffed nails. Fragrant skin and hair. Seven servants.  The Queen of the land.  The King’s favour. 

“For such a time as this.”

The statement catches her off guard.  It gets under her skin and tumbles around her brain.

“For such a time as this.”

Fast, she says to Mordecai.  Gather our people and fast.  No food or drink for three days and nights.  She does the same…

The story of Esther holds too much for just one post.  So won’t you join me again next week as we explore how Esther takes the lead in this drama…

 

18 Comments

  1. Love Esther – and your recount of her story (part 1) is so wonderfully written 🙂 I heard the story for the first time last year at bible study when a friend of mine did her devotion on her, by playing the role of Esther, telling all of us in first-person what it was like 🙂 The story has always stuck with me 🙂 Happy Monday Tonya!!!

    • April – I’m loving this link up and I can’t wait to finish the story – thank you so much for your encouragement here!! I’ve loved getting to know you here and at Five Minute Friday.

  2. A spa day with great significance. YES. So glad you’re linking up today…can’t wait for next week! ‘For such a time as this.’

  3. Esther is one of my very favorite stories in the bible. God is never specifically mentioned yet you see His hands working through out it it all. Esther is one of the bible stories in our VBS this year and I can’t wait to pass it on to all the children. To show them that God is working behind the scenes in their lives.

    • She’s one of my favourites too… a woman out of her element, being someone she was not necessarily born to be yet God in all of His wisdom has her where He needs her – “For such a time as this”

  4. Oh my, Tonya! I was SO bummed when I got to the to be continued! Excellent stuff. Um, I think THIS is what you need to be writing. LOVED IT.

    • Sorry to disappoint friend – there is just so much there that I was afraid I would lose people before I finished – so it’s a two parter! Thanks for your encouragement friend!!

  5. You had me on the edge of my seat, even though I already know how it ends. “For such a time as this” we have been put here, in this place, just as Esther was. Looking forward to the next post in the series!

  6. Here from the Chasing History link-up! 🙂

    Such a great post! I love reading/hearing the story of Esther. She was certainly a woman of great bravery!

    My favorite part: “Hadassah is a name that is derived from the word “myrtle,” a type of tree. The leaves of a myrtle tree only release their fragrance when they are crushed.” If that doesn’t speak volumes of Esther, I don’t know what does! So cool and a post all in itself. 🙂

    Can’t wait to read more! 🙂

    jesselyse.weebly.com

    • Yes her name could be a post all in itself couldn’t it – I’ll be exploring that theme more in next week’s link up. Thanks for stopping by friend.

  7. I’ve been vaguely thinking about Esther recently. Particularly “for such a time as this”.
    No idea what it means yet but looking forward to finding out.
    Thank you for the post.
    Maybe I need to have lots of spa days until I find out?

    • Mmm… lots of spa days – that sounds fabulous! Thanks for stoppoing by Karen… I so appreciate you taking the time to speak words here.

  8. Wow thank you. Esther’s story is so inspirational. And I think applies so much to our lives today as we live in a society that doesn’t want to offend, sticks to their own, and strives to be liked. But like Esther, we have a call to be bold and be Gods heart, hands, and feet for His people.
    Ann Voskamp wrote a wonderful post recently about ‘Such a time as this’ also. If you haven’t read it, but I’m guessing you have as I saw her sticker on your blog!, you should check it out 🙂
    Thanks again and looking forward reading part 2
    Blessings.
    Chasing History

  9. Rebecca – thank you so much for stopping by here. I did see Ann’s blog and I couldn’t get that phrase “For such a time as this” out of my head – so in essence it inspired me to write this post – to take a close look at Esther’s story. Blessings to you today.

  10. “An orphan raised in exile with no hope of returning home. She was not where she was supposed to be.
    Or was she?”

    So often we feel we are not where we are supposed to be, but God has His plans. Loved this wonderful recap. Looking forward to next week and exploring “such a time.”

    Blessings!

  11. I love her story too – so much. Like you, I can remember delving into the Bible during long sermons when I was younger (I remember a gold, hard-backed Good News version!), and this was one of my favorites. I love how you wrote it as “the longest spa day in history” – how great. But great it turned out to be “for a time such as this.” I’m looking forward to the conclusion.

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