The story of Esther can be a controversial one. There are those who see Esther as selling out as a woman, using her feminine wiles to get what she wanted, letting herself be used and manipulated by the men around her. I wrote more about this in a digidisciple post over on BigBible.
But whatever you think of the character of Esther, it cannot be denied that she achieved what was required – safety and freedom for her people.
Haman Is Punished
7 The king and Haman were dining with Esther 2 and drinking wine during the second dinner, when the king again said, “Esther, what can I do for you? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom!”
3 Esther answered, “Your Majesty, if you really care for me and are willing to help, you can save me and my people. That’s what I really want, 4 because a reward has been promised to anyone who kills my people. Your Majesty, if we were merely going to be sold as slaves, I would not have bothered you.”
5 “Who would dare to do such a thing?” the king asked.
6 Esther replied, “That evil Haman is the one out to get us!”
Haman was terrified, as he looked at the king and the queen.
7 The king was so angry that he got up, left his wine, and went out into the palace garden.
Haman realized that the king had already decided what to do with him, and he stayed and begged Esther to save his life.
8 Just as the king came back into the room, Haman got down on his knees beside Esther, who was lying on the couch. The king shouted, “Now you’re even trying to rape my queen here in my own palace!”
As soon as the king said this, his servants covered Haman’s head. 9 Then Harbona, one of the king’s personal servants, said, “Your Majesty, Haman built a tower seventy-five feet high beside his house, so he could hang Mordecai on it. And Mordecai is the very one who spoke up and saved your life.”
“Hang Haman from his own tower!” the king commanded. 10 Right away, Haman was hanged on the tower he had built to hang Mordecai, and the king calmed down.
The Festival of Purim
20 Mordecai wrote down everything that had happened. Then he sent letters to the Jews everywhere in the provinces 21 and told them:
Each year you must celebrate on both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar, 22 the days when we Jews defeated our enemies. Remember this month as a time when our sorrow was turned to joy, and celebration took the place of crying. Celebrate by having parties and by giving to the poor and by sharing gifts of food with each other.
The king, along with many others it seems in the bible, is very free with his promises and giving away his wealth. But it is not riches or safety that Esther is looking for, but safety and freedom. She is offered personal enrichment, but is not interested. She wants the best for her entire community.
Mordecai was the one who had found out the information about what Haman was planning, but it was Esther, because of her place and the respect she had earned, that was able to let the King deal with it, and so save the whole Jewish people.
Sometimes God asks us to do the strangest things. Things that we cannot see how we could possibly be any use for him. But use us he does, if we are willing.
How does Esther and what she was able to do challenge us?
Do we want to work along with God? Do we rail against it? Do we think we know best? Are we listening and waiting for God? Are we worried about our sensibilities? Or ready to do what is needed to serve our community?
sometimes I think that I know best,
I object to what you ask me to do,
because it doesn’t sit well with me.
Forgive me those times I fail you
because my opinions get in the way.
Help me to hear your call,
to trust you,
and obey you
– that you may work in and through me