The Queen's Patience: Esther's Ninth Connection to the Gospel

I cannot fathom Esther’s patience or the dedication to playing her part. Esther did not build that tower of pride. She stayed low and humble, and Lord worked through her to bring about the salvation of his people.

Contributing Writer
Aug 17, 2022
The Queen's Patience: Esther's Ninth Connection to the Gospel

Feast day arrived for Esther, a day which could lead to her people’s rescue or seal their downfall and hers with it. She had taken an enormous risk.

Haman, King Ahaseurus, and Esther were into their second day of feasting before the king asked, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled” (7:2).

Early readers or hearers of these events must have been on the edge of their seats. Would Esther be like Vashti — rash and prideful?

Esther’s Sober Answer

Imagine poor Esther, who has patiently waited to put her plan into action, a plan of grave importance, and she has no choice but to allow this unpredictable man to crack open another bottle of wine. Maybe this was her hope: get him drunk.

Ahaseurus was more pliable when inebriated but pliable to whom? Could he have been manipulated by Haman under the circumstances?

I don’t think so: the Lord had orchestrated this meeting; it was by his grace and mercy that the plan would proceed and succeed if Esther was obedient and brave. Haman felt special, elevated by Esther’s invitation. His guard was down.

I cannot fathom Esther’s patience, the dedication to playing her part while her stomach turned over and over with anxiety. Have you ever had to pretend to be okay while inside, you were full of anxiety and fear?

Here she was, having already endured an entire day of feasting. How had she felt as they nibbled on delicacies while her people perhaps fasted while they prayed? While they begged God to intercede? They and Esther must have been exhausted.

She had prayed and fasted in order to prepare for this moment, to receive God’s direction and discernment. Haman plotted genocide; Ahaseurus concentrated on his appetites: Esther maintained her calm and stuck to the plan:

“If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request” (v.3).

She doesn’t reference the Lord, but he is in this. How else could a woman or any person remain so composed?

Subby Szterszky asserts that here we have “a dramatic testimony to the fact that God uses real, complex individuals in non-religious contexts to accomplish his purposes, with no spiritual spin required. [...] The scriptural account of Esther and its historical backdrop serve as a pair of stepping stones for God’s plan to bring his Son into the world and to spread the good news about him.”

Queen Vashti Vs. Esther

Why does the beginning of Esther feature an account of Queen Vashti’s downfall? When I think of Esther’s sober humility, Vashti’s example amplifies Esther’s courage and wisdom. I sympathize with Vashti.

In North America, the king’s attitude would have been considered unacceptable, and Vashti would have been a heroine for refusing to be cowed.

A GoFundMe page would have been established to help her start a new life, and Ahaseurus would have been vilified on social media.

I’m certain that Esther did not respect the king for his actions — his unpredictable temperament and immoderate ways. She had been demeaned the same as Vashti was.

Still, when the king finally asked Esther what she wanted, using the same words he had previously employed (I’ll give you up to half of my kingdom), Esther presented her case with characteristic modesty but matched his dramatic style in a way, which fed his pride.

The idea of a queen groveling to her king offends our First World sensitivities, but Queen Esther was not defending her personal dignity. She used the language of diplomacy to fight for her people on the only stage available to her. Though hemmed in, she made that little stage count.

Speaking for the People

“We have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king” (v.4).

Esther says a lot in just a few words. She:

  • Connects herself to the Jews whom Haman hates. What if Haman had influenced the king to hate them also? Esther’s courage and faith are breathtaking.
  • Makes the cause personal. If Ahaseurus does, indeed, care for Esther, the annihilation of the Jews will matter to him.
  • Uses the language of commerce: who else had the right to buy, sell, or enslave his own people except for the king?
  • Humbles herself and elevates King Ahasuerus simultaneously.

Esther was so clever, ensuring that it would be a matter of the king’s pride to do as she was about to ask. Her enemy was now his enemy: Ahaseurus was outraged for her sake and his own. “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” (v.5).

Esther’s example challenges me to ask what motivates me when I confront a situation or a person. Is it my selfish pride or some kind of greater good? I shudder to think.

Importance of Power

It’s safe to say that Ahaseurus was too flippant, unpredictable, and shallow to have responded to Esther’s concerns for her sake solely. He might have felt some pity for her, but Haman was also his friend.

We know what happens to Haman — would a better friend have questioned his highest, most trusted official? Would a man of greater substance have taken time to weigh up Esther’s accusations and give Haman a chance to speak in his own defense?

To be honest, a man of greater substance would not have allowed matters to reach this stage, signing an edict without giving it due consideration for example.

The events, which followed Esther’s declaration that her “foe and enemy [was] wicked Haman!” (v.6) are stunningly quick. I almost feel sorry for Haman under the circumstances. His fortunes changed rapidly.

Who of you, readers, holds a position of power? Any parent out there certainly does, any manager, supervisor, or director. While a supervisor’s duties fall under the watchful eye of a manager, that supervisor is also responsible for the people directly below him or her.

Haman wielded power over the ordinary people of Persia, and he was accountable for his own actions, but the king was also culpable. His job as king was not to merely wield power but to serve his people, and Ahaseurus was not fully committed to this part of his role.

Certainly, there are glimpses of compassion, such as when he sought to honor Mordecai. And even if Ahaseurus had been an exemplary king, Haman need not have followed that example.

But our actions reflect that which matters to us most and comes from the greatest influence in our lives.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Haman sought power and prestige. He unwittingly saw his enemy lauded by the king while exposing his heart to the reader.

“For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set” (Esther 6:7-8).

In the king’s own finery, Haman would have been paraded before the people and honored. I wonder how often he had seen Ahaseurus thus adorned and honored by a fearful crowd and thought of how to kill him and take the crown for himself.

Everything for a Reason

The world is a dark and desperate place, not only because of forces beyond our control but also because our hearts are vulnerable to pride and fear. God is our rock, but we don’t cling to him all the time as he invites us to do.

It’s only when he knocks down our balsa wood construction that we remember how weak we are. I, for one, can say that if I try to be strong in my own strength, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Our Rock, the Lord, is not cold and heartless when I fall from the top of my Jenga tower.

The landing is more painful the further I build my own castle, but even then, the Rock of my Salvation brings life, not death. Esther did not build that tower of pride. She stayed low and humble, and Lord worked through her to bring about the salvation of his people.

For further reading:

The Scepter and the Shepherd’s Rod: Esther's Sixth Connection to the Gospel

Pride and Impressionability: Esther’s Seventh Connection to the Gospel

Role Reversal: Esther’s Eighth Connection to the Gospel

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/allanswart

Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.

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These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.

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