Hello, and welcome to Lechem Panim. In our study of Esther, we have come to the part of the story where Esther (along with 400 women) is taken into the palace of Xerxes, King of Persia. Many of these women were to become concubines for the king and one them was to be chosen as Xerxes’ next queen. Now Hegai (you will remember) was one of the men in charge of the women. And he is taken aback by this young woman he encounters named Esther. It says in…
Esther 2:9 (ESV)— 9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king's palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem.
Not just another pretty face-- And we know why. Because there was more to Esther than physical beauty; she was not just another pretty face. Nor was it just that she had a likable personality. There are a lot of people with likable personalities. No, there was something different about the way Esther lived her life that made her stand out from everyone else around her. And we see at least three important characteristics in particular that set her apart as being one on whom the Lord’s favor rested. And these are three basic things that we as Christians can and should implement in our lives as well.
POINT 1: ESTHER’S OBEDIENCE— First of all, Esther was obedient. Remember verse…
Esther 2:10 (ESV)--10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known.
She respects and obeys her elders; particularly Mordecai. And we will see this much more as we progress through the book. She honors and obeys those who have been placed in authority over her.
Unhappy Under Authority— Now often people don’t deal with authority very well; and that can be anywhere, but especially the workplace. For some people, it doesn’t matter what job they have, they are never happy simply because of the fact that they cannot work under another person’s authority. They want to be the one in control of themselves and (ironically) often over the lives of others. Submission is a dirty word for them; and that is true for many in our day and age.
But scripture teaches us that happiness in our lives can never be found until we learn how to submit to the authorities God has placed over our lives; until we learn how to follow. Even Jesus modeled this kind of submission in His relationship to the Father. But the problem in our culture is that we always want to be the ones to lead; never the ones to follow.
Are You a Leader?— There's [a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, “Are you a leader?” Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, “No,” and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: “Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower.”]
We have too many people nowadays who are unable to follow; people who want to lead their own lives. But the Christlike life is the life that is characterized by the ability to submit to authority and to honor those placed in positions above us. Not that we can’t challenge authority when they are wrong, but even then we can do so with a Christ-like attitude and spirit. But how can we be sure we have that right attitude? First, we must be submitted to God. If we are fully submitted to God, then we can be submitted to those He has placed in authority over us. Because (remember this) our submission to others is an extension of our submission to God.
POINT 2: ESTHER’S HUMILITY & TEACHABILITY— Now the second characteristic we see in Esther's life is that she acts not on impulse, but with wisdom; being both humble and teachable. How do we know this? Look at verse 15…
Esther 2:15a (ESV)— 15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised.
So she takes the time to listen to advice. She doesn’t just grab the richest; most elaborate things. No, she chooses to take less (only what Hegai advises and nothing more). So she exercises restraint; she demonstrates a listening ear, which shows teachability and humility. Now how are we when it comes to being teachable? Are we humble enough to allow somebody else to show us a better way?
Proverbs 1:5 (ESV)-- 5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
Proverbs 12:15 (ESV)-- 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
Proverbs 19:20 (ESV)-- 20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
So Esther showed herself to be teachable. She trusts not in her wisdom, but in the wisdom of Hegai.
POINT 3: ESTHER’S REFUSAL TO GRASP— But her actions here also reveal something else about her character; her unwillingness to grasp.
David vs. Saul— Earlier in Israel’s history you had two famous kings: Saul (Israel’s first king) and then immediately following his reign you have the reign of David. And you will remember that the way in which they ruled was night and day. Saul incurred God’s curse and a withdrawal of His presence (His Spirit). David on the other hand was called a man after God’s own heart; he was pleasing in the eyes of God. Yet what made the difference? The difference is this. David never forgot whose kingdom it was. Saul did. Saul thought it was his kingdom; he thought that he was the king. David, on the other hand, recognized that he was not the king; God was the true king of Israel. That is why he never tried to take the throne by force; why he didn’t kill Saul, whom (even after his own anointing) he still calls "the Lord's anointed"); even though he had the chance (multiple chances) to take his life and seize the throne. David is hiding from Saul in a cave. And Saul comes into the cave to relieve himself. And David’s men are whispering to him, saying, “Look, the Lord has delivered him into your hand. Let’s kill him!” But David resists. He resists the temptation to seize; to grasp and instead He trusted that God would bring it about in His own time and patiently waited for the Lord. And that attitude; that demeanor really characterized the majority of his reign.
Esther doesn't grasp-- And here we see the same attitude with Esther. She could seize anything she wanted. She could use the various adornments available to her to try to tip the scales in her favor. But no; she resists. She chooses the wiser path, saying “If God wills for me to be queen, He will do it by His outstretched hand, not my grasping hand.”
Our grasping-- And I just think, “How often do you and I reach for things; take hold of things; grasp for things that either God doesn’t want us to have or that are not in accordance with His perfect timing? Saul chose the kingdom over God's presence; David chose the presence of God over the kingdom. And God's anointing could therefore remain on David. And here we find an anointing of Esther that went deeper than the perfumes that covered her body. What caused her to stand out was the aromatic fragrance of the presence of God made manifest in her life. She didn't grasp, but instead listened to the voice of wisdom, which IS the very voice of God. God wants to bless us. But first we must be willing to cease grasping for ourselves. Now it is because of these three things that the next part of the verse follows…
Esther 2:15b (ESV)— Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.
When you and I are obedient to those God has placed in positions of authority over us; when we honor them; we win the favor of others. When you and I remain humble and teachable, we win the favor of others. When you and I keep from grasping and trust that God is in control and will give us good things in His perfect timing, we win the favor of others. And sure enough, it says in…
Esther 2:16-18 (ESV)— 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, [by the way this is four years after the King has banished Vashti ] 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther's feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.
Esther’s Coronation— And so ends the coronation of Esther; and yet another feast. Yet this is a feast that stands in contrast to that feast in the opening chapter, because it is one which is permeated with the favor of God.
This week, live in the favor and joy of walking in obedience and humility with God. Remain teachable before Him and others. And trust in Him to meet your needs (even in difficult circumstances, such as the ones we’re facing during these Covid-19 days). Refrain from grasping and instead let your hands be outstretched to receive those the gifts God has for you when and how He wants to give them to you. And may His peace and favor rest on you. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Ury graduated from Asbury University in 2007 with a B.A. in Bible and Theology. From there he continued his studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS. It was there that he met his wife Tanya, who graduated from WBS with her M.A. and M.Div. degrees. Cameron and Tanya got married in 2009. Cameron then graduated with his M.Div. degree with a pastoral concentration in 2011.
After shepherding churches in both Mississippi and Ohio, they joined the ministry team at Renton Park Chapel in January of 2018, where Cameron serves as Senior Pastor and Teacher.
Cameron is also the founder and host of Lechem Panim, a weekly radio show that airs on KGNW 820AM "The Word Seattle". The ministry of Lechem Panim is centered around leading people into the life-giving presence of God in and through Bible study, prayer, and active discipleship with the aim of ministering to a world that is in desperate need of the healing touch of Jesus Christ.