It was a beauty pageant like no other. King Xerxes ruled Persia between 486-465 B.C. Sometime during his reign he divorced his first wife and held a beauty pageant to find himself a new queen. “Each young woman spent 12 months under the regulations for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women.” (Esther 2:12). After this twelve month beautification process, the young women were presented to the King. They were given whatever their hearts desired in order to capture the affections of the King. Each woman had one night with the King.
Hegai, a eunuch, was put in charge of this harem of women. Can you imagine being in charge of a group of beautiful women all vying to be queen? Hegai had to manage the cat fights, the pride, the strutting, the put downs, the flying gowns, the smell of all kinds of beautification processes, etc. I imagine there was even hair pulling and name calling.
But when Esther entered the scene, she “pleased Hegai and won his favor…” (Esther 2:9). When it came time for Esther to be presented to the king, unlike all the other women she “asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.” (Esther 2:15).
Esther won the heart of the king and became queen. “She won grace and favor in his sight…” (Esther 2:17). What was different about her? Scripture tells us she had a “beautiful figure and was lovely to look at…” (Esther 2:7). Even though she was beautiful and lovely, these are not the qualities that won her favor with all that were around her. These women that were competing to be queen were the most beautiful women of the land.
What made her stand out? Her character! We can see some clues to her character as we see her interact with Hegai. She asked for his advice. How many beautiful women asked for the advice of the servants? She probably addressed him by his name and with respect. She did not walk into the room with the demeanor of arrogance, but with a demeanor of humility and grace. She did not act like everyone owed her.
Her character brought her the title of queen, and God used her to save His people from Haman’s wicked plot. God could have worked in any number of ways, but he chose a Jewish orphan girl to humbly carry out His plans. I often wonder how many opportunities we miss because we are not the right people. How many times do we miss an opportunity to minister for God, because we are too wrapped in ourselves? We may not be pulling hair, name calling, or busy applying myrrh and spices. Rather, we are so involved in our woes that we forget to look up and see all that God has done for us. Esther could have wallowed in her misfortune. She was an orphan. What if she didn’t win the beauty contest? We all have our what if’s…what if we change those negative what if’s into positive ones. What if our love for God radiates through us and draws others to Himself. Esther saved the lives of her entire nation! What could we do?