The book of Esther has to be one of the most politically incorrect books of the Bible! So patriarchal! So insensitive to the "rights" of women and minorities!
Well, Esther (Hadassah) was both a woman and a minority. Yet it seems from the narrative of our text for today that her "rights" seemed to be very low on her prsonal list of priorities. Her motives appear, well... rather selfless! Not pursuing fame, power or fortune- she ends up possessing and wielding massive amounts of all of them! And at the same time, she does so with almost a complete lack of regard for herself!
Caught up in a "parade of stars" in the running for a new Persian queen, she is drafted into a pool of women who are carefully groomed to be "audtioned" by the king in an ongoing search for the "perfect" woman. No doubt, after of year of preparation, all the candidates were physically "perfect" in the eyes of King Xerxes. But of all the beautiful candidates, Esther stood out.
Eshter 2:17 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.
What was it about this remarkable woman? Why was it that wherever she went, she won people over? Her beauty must have attracted notice, but there were MANY ofther beautiful women- there had to be something else.
As our narrative unfolds, we soon discover what really made Esther so attractive: it was her inner self. She was a woman of great qualities: humility, courage, and selflessness. She spent her life living out a much larger agenda than that of self-interest. As a result, she saved an entire nation and became a honored figure in both Jewish and Christian history!
Eshter's powerful life story reminds me of Peter's exhortation:
1 Peter 3:1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Not very politically correct! But powerful and valuable in the eyes of God!