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Monday, October 24, 2011

The Wisdom of Submission


Welcome back!  We're changing things up a little this week.  God has been revealing some amazing truths to me about Esther, the Jewish orphan girl who became Queen of Persia.  I wanted to share them with you, so we'll be touching on several verses throughout the book of Esther today. 

Most of us know that Esther rose from obscurity to the highest position a woman could achieve during her day.  We also know that God used her to save the Jews from annihilation.  Obviously, she possesses many admirable qualities that we should wish to reflect in our own lives, but one in particular caught my attention as I read.

Throughout her story, Esther follows the directions of those whom God places over her.  In other words, she submits to her God-appointed authority.  With each instance of her obedience, God grants her favor, and she rises to prominence.  Not for her glory, but for God's.

In the first instance, after the King issued a decree that beautiful virgins of the land were to be brought to the palace so that he might choose a new queen,  . . . Esther also was taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem (Esther 2:8).  She submitted to the laws of the land.  Scripture does not say whether or not she wanted to go, but the fact is, she went, and there begins our story.  The result of her obedience?  The girl pleased him and won his favor.  Esther received extra beauty treatments, special food, was given several attendants and moved to the best location in the harem. 

Next, Esther continued to submit to the authority of Mordecai, her guardian.  Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so (2:10).  Esther's Jewish name was Hadassah, but Mordecai asked her to go by her Persian name, to hide her background.  He also told her not to reveal her nationality, most likely because they lived among their enemies.  Esther followed Mordecai's advice, which later is pivotal in saving the Jews. 

After a year of beauty treatments, special food, and training, each girl was to go before the king.  She came to the palace in the evening, and the next morning, she was sent to the house of the concubines, to live like a widow, unless the king called for her by name.  It was a pampered, but a tragic existence.  Each girl was allowed to take whatever she wanted from the harem to the king's palace when it was her time to appear before the king.

When the turn came for Esther . . . to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch. . . suggested.  And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her (2:15).  Again, Esther follows the advice of the people God has placed in charge of her.  Even in the harem, she takes the good advice given to her.  This is what happens as a result:  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 . . .(2:17). 

Even as queen, Esther continues to follow Mordecai's advice.  He uncovers a plot to  assassinate the king and tells Esther, who brings the news to King Ahasuerus.  When Haman, the king's right-hand man convinces the king to make a decree which will destroy the Jews, Esther again heeds the voice of her adopted father.   He asks her to go before the king, reveal her family background, and beg for mercy for her people. 

Esther is faced with a tremendous dilemma.  Although she was blessed with such favor from everyone, including the king, she has not been called by him for thirty days.  Who knew if the king still felt favorably toward her?  Also, . . . any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law:  that he be put to death.  The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life (4:11).  To appear before the king uninvited was a death sentence unless the king saw fit to spare  that person's life. 

Mordecai reminds her that hiding in the palace will not save her life.  He encourages her by adding . . . who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (4:14)  Esther's response to this difficult task?  Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me . . . When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish (4:16)!

The complete story has many more interesting twists and turns, but in summary, Esther appears in the king's inner court, her life is spared, and she invites the king and Haman to a banquet.  She reveals her heritage, pleads for her life and the life of her people.  Haman is hanged for his crime, Mordecai is given Haman's position, and the Jewish people are allowed to not only defend themselves, but . . .  many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them (8:17). 

Now, you're probably thinking:  Great story, but how does this apply to me?  I'll tell you.  There is great wisdom in acknowledging that you don't know everything.  Choosing to follow the instructions of those God has placed over you is a tremendous sign of maturity.  Our world would tell you that you are the master of your own destiny.  You call the shots.  If it feels good, do it.  This is contrary to God's plan and ultimately, contrary to your happiness. 

If you, as a teenager or young adult can make the choice to honor your parents, obey the people in authority, and follow the loving advice of those who are older than you, great blessings will come as a result.  It's easy to rebel, it's much more difficult to listen, trust and obey, especially when you can't see the benefit from your perspective. 

 Obviously, we follow the direction of God above anyone else. If a law or a directive given by a person is contrary to God's word, then we are to ignore the law of man in order to follow God. Esther, herself did this, but only as God directed.  It was her submission, not her defiance, that raised her to greatness, and it was her reputation for loyalty that caused the king to look on her with favor, even as she disobeyed his command. 

I challenge you to take on this trademark characteristic of Esther.  We live in a world full of enemies.  Many people who would give us "advice" are not looking out for our benefit.  If God has placed loving people in authority over you, respect their position, follow their direction, and develop a reputation of honor that will follow you wherever you go! 

Do you struggle with following authority?  Are you finding it difficult to submit?  Leave a comment or email us at and we'll be happy to pray for and encourage you! 

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