The book of Esther is known for a number of things. We learn of the virtue of Queen Vashti, the principled Mordecai, and the providence of God. As important as these points are, there are some additional lessons to learn in the book. I hope to bring some of these to your attention in two postings.
1. Is there virtue in parading another person, especially such a prominent person as Queen Vashti (1:11-12)? Whatever “virtue” there might have been in the minds of some prominent men, the queen certainly saw nothing in their form of virtue, if it can be called that! In Scripture, parading one in the presence of others suggest the one paraded is a conquered foe, and the queen was going to have none of that! She stood her ground and it cost her. What did it cost? It cost her royal position, protection, and possessions. In what it cost her, she had something that she would not sell – her dignity.
2. Virtue in leadership (1:22). Most assuredly there is virtue in leadership, but is leadership to be compelled or earned? A quality of leadership is respect and when another is commanded to respect a position (or person), that respect has a hard time making its way into the heart of the one so commanded. The wife is to lover her husband, respecting his God-ordained position of leadership. It is likely that a wife will readily submit to a loving husband that she respects, but if she does not respect him, will there be submission or resistance?
3. Virtue in beauty (2:9, 12). The harem of the king was to be prepared on the outside, but beauty is to have more depth than that. Peter told the women of his day that beauty was to reside in the “hidden person of the heart,” something that had depth and not only in appearance. Men and women want to look attractive to the opposite sex, but being attractive on the outside without the inside makes for a short and disruptive relationship. Those who have already experienced this can’t tell you adequately the heartache endured.
4. Virtue in modesty (2:15). Modesty, in religious circles, is generally associated with one’s apparel. Modesty, however, goes to the heart. When the heart is interested in virtue, is there a need to promote self? Esther was in a difficult circumstance, and when she went into the king, imagine the apprehension, fear, dread, and the other emotions that might have come over her. Whatever she might have thought (or felt), she goes in at the advice of the king’s servant. Perhaps it is not unreasonable to think that one of the attractive features of Esther was this little thing the Holy Spirit notes for us.