Women of the Bible: Esther; A Chosen Orphan and God’s Promise to Flourish

Her hand trembled as she placed it on the door to the King’s royal court. Esther knew that without an invitation she could die for walking through this door. She took a big breath, steadied herself, and pushed the large doors open. She heard their gasps, then silence as she stepped into the long walkway toward the Kings throne. King Xerses eyes were fixed on Esther as he lifted himself up from his ornately carved chair. She anxiously inched her way toward him focused on his hand, praying he would seize his golden sceptre to privilege her with access and life.

Five years earlier King Xerxes selected Esther to be his wife and Queen of the Persian Empire. She never told her husband that she was an orphan, a slave in his kingdom, and that the Israelites were her people. Esther’s story reveals God’s sovereign plan positioning her for “such a time as this.”

Everything about Esther’s situation said impossible! Not only did her rise to become Queen seem unimaginable, she now had to advocate for her people as they faced a death sentence according the the King’s edict.

She must have wondered if the King would even care about this seemingly insignificant issue in relation to all the big issues of the day. The Persian Empire was fighting to keep its dominant position against the emerging Greek Empire. There were global affairs to be attended to in court, and Esther was interrupting this important business. Her status as an uninvited woman placed her life at risk. The King’s eyes remained fastened on her as she stepped closer and closer…

Esther was bold yet she won favour with everyone throughout her preparations toward the Queen’s crown, and trust was key to her favour. Several times in the book of Esther we see various people giving her counsel. Starting with her cousin and guardian Mordecai, through to the King’s servants and Eunuch’s that prepared the women for the King’s selection. Esther trusted in their counsel each step of the way.

But I think there is more… Esther’s Hebrew name is Hadassah, it means Myrtle. Myrtle is a symbol of God’s promise to cause His people to flourish. Myrtle shows up in scripture after the Israelites are carried away to captivity in Babylon. It is mentioned twice in the book of Isaiah and once in the book of Zechariah.

The prophecy in Isaiah chapter 41 was given during King Cyrus’s (Xerxes grandfather) rise to global dominance. King Cyrus was God’s chosen instrument to overtake the Babylonian Empire and begin the return of the exiled Israelites to their land. God gave the Israelites some very important promises during this time. One of them was that He would plant Myrtle in the Wilderness! I wonder if Hadassah/Esther anchored her faith and trust in these words along with trusting the wise counsel of those along her journey.

A few verses earlier, in Isaiah 41, God spoke these words through His prophet… words that many of us clasp into today when facing impossible situations:

I have chosen you and not cast you off;
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:9-10

Esther believed in God’s activity in human history, and His faithfulness to His promises. Her spiritual counsellors pointed her faith toward God’s consistent character that plants and empowers what looks weak in human eyes, to accomplish His purposes. He promised the Israelites that he would curse anyone who curses them, His chosen people (Genesis 12:3).

Haman, one of King Xerxes officials hated the Israelites, especially Mordecai because he would not bow down to Haman. In his hatred Haman convinced King Xerxes that the Jews were a threat to his power and suggested they be destroyed for not following the laws of the kingdom.

Esther’s brave advance toward King Xerxes was fraught with danger! I envision her silently praying God’s promises to herself petitioning Him to spare her life, and His people Israel. Perhaps as she is promising to trust in Him for the right words, she sees King Xerxes raise his spectre to her. Her life had been spared and her actions after this resulted in the hanging of Haman; the cancellation of the King’s edict to kill the Israelites (salvation); and the house of Haman given to Esther.

Who could have imagined such a journey for an orphaned Israelite during her time of captivity! But God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.(Romans 8:28).

Esther’s story speaks to me about trust! Trust in the character and promises of God, and trust in the wise counsel of those He as places in our lives. He wants to help us walk by faith when facing impossible situations. Most importantly to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for His finished work on the cross that has secured our eternal salvation!

For further study on God’s promises and mentions of myrtle in scripture read the book of Esther along with Isaiah Chapters 40-42 and 55, plus Zechariah 1:1-11