Esther Made Queen
“12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.
15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.”
(Esther 2:12-18 NIV)
Let’s begin today with a quick timeline review. In Esther 1:3, we see the king throwing his six month open house during his third year as king. At the end of that six months, the king throws a week-long party for all who are in the palace. On the last day of that week-long party, the queen refuses the king’s invitation to join him in a public forum to honor her. The king gathers his advisers and decides to essentially divorce the queen for her refusal to honor his wishes. The king sinks into depression and moodiness, until his advisers recommend that the king seek a new wife.
The announcement goes out across the vast Persian empire, and the beauty pageant preparations begin. Young ladies from all the provinces are selected, brought to the capital, and put through a year-long training and preparation regimen. Esther quickly rises to the top as the favorite.
Four years after the open house and debacle with Queen Vashti, during the seventh year of the king’s reign (Esther 2:16), the king meets Esther, falls in love with her, and makes her queen in Vashti’s former place. The king honors Esther by throwing a huge banquet and declaring a national holiday (Esther 2:17-18).
One might ask what happened to all the other women. After the king spent one night with each woman, she was then moved to another location where the king’s concubines lived. She was the king’s concubine, a legitimate wife of the king, but of secondary rank and privilege. She could never marry another man, and unless the king was pleased with her and asked for her by name (Esther 2:14), she was destined to live out the rest of her days as an unloved woman. She would be kept in shelter, clothing, and food, but nothing more unless the king asked for her.
As we see this drama unfold before us, we see God’s Providence working quietly but steadily, preparing to protect and save His people from impending doom and disaster. And as the Lord worked in Esther’s day, so He works in our day as well, not because of our good deeds, but because of His love for us, through His Son Jesus Christ. We may not see Him manifest Himself in miracles before our very eyes, but we can trace His hand in sovereign direction over the our daily affairs.