That palace, it struck both fear and awe into the heart of the young woman passing near its gates. The opulence and magnificence of its halls well-known throughout the land. Not that she, of course, would ever see inside.
Nor did she wish to. For she’d heard the tales of the evil, capricious king who marched horses over his dead enemy’s body. And who had beat the sea with chains, attempting to subdue it to better manners. A fearsome, frightful man. And she was plenty glad to keep her distance.
But strange things were afloat in the empire. The king had sent his agents into the farthest corners to gather the most beautiful young women into the palace. He sought a new wife, to replace the one he had put away.
Yet, as she hoisted her water jug higher, perhaps Hadassah felt certain she had nothing to fear. “After all,” she surely reasoned. “There’s nothing special about me. And I am one of God’s chosen people! God is faithful, and he will protect.”
But as we know, the young Hadassah, later to become Queen Esther, did get taken. Drug off to the palace, and into the hands of a seeming mad man.
Queen Esther’s story is, perhaps, one of the most enthralling in all the Bible. The young orphan Hadassah, from an ordinary Jewish family, who became the Queen that saved her people from one of their darkest hours.
Esther’s cousin Mordecai, who’d raised the orphaned girl, probably viewed her as his little princess.
The Hebrew culture greatly loved and valued children. We know little about Mordecai, perhaps a childless bachelor or widower, who loved and cherished Esther. A companion for otherwise lonely days, and one to care for him in coming old age. The story portrays a certain tenderness between them. Yet, it seems he did not cater to her every wish and whim. Instead he prepared her for the harsh world which surrounded her. And endeavored to instill royal, kingdom qualities into her character.
I believe Esther was already queenly, long before she ever stepped into that palace.
And though our times differ greatly, I think it’s because Mordecai instilled truly royal qualities into his orphaned cousin’s character. Traits like obedience, humility, and loyalty. A love that puts others first and gives sacrificially. Courage to face trouble. And fortitude to stand for what is right, even at great personal cost. Esther had these truly royal qualities — Kingdom qualities. She had the regal worth of a true queen.
She bravely faced danger, even risking her life, declaring, “If I perish, I perish.” Because Mordecai had raised her to look beyond herself to others. And beyond herself to higher things. And in this moment of great trial, he helped her see that perhaps she had become queen “for such a time as this.”
God gives us children to love and treasure; but above all, to raise for his kingdom.
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” — Esther 4:13-14
Father, raising godly, selfless children is not easy in our self-absorbed society — obsessed with selfies, beauty, success, and designer clothing. Make us an example to our children and others of true Kingdom royalty, that of selfless love and service. Give us wisdom to see that both we and our children are here to make and be a real difference — in such a time as this.
Over to you:
Does the story of Esther help you remember the all-important fact that our children are not really our own, but only on loan? And that God has sent them, and us, into this world to show his kingdom. Are you living, and preparing them to live, as true royalty — even though it goes against all that society pushes? Or even at great personal cost?
Esther is the tale of the little tree Hadassah, meaning Myrtle tree. Alone and without shelter in a storm-ridden world before cousin Mordecai took her in and planted her close to his own heart and hearth. Until, chosen for her great beauty (internal as well as external) the little tree became a queen and a star — Queen Esther, meaning star.
J. Edmons brings a twofold teaching from the simple meanings of these names. In our own lives, may we first be like the beautiful Myrtle tree — evergreen and ever fragrant with Christ’s grace and beauty. And then as a shining star, aglow with his love, truth, and holiness. — The Biblical Illustrator