Esther was a queen full of faith. Even though her faith would be severely tested, she pulled through, and God used her actions to save her people.
Death or favor.
That was what it amounted to as Queen Esther approached the king in his throne room. According to the law of the empire, approaching the king uninvited (as she was doing) would earn her the death sentence unless the king showed her favor and extended the golden scepter to her (Esther 4:11).
Esther knew the consequences of her action, but the lives of her people demanded that she risk her own life and act.
Seeing her approach, the king extended the scepter, permitting her to come before him. Walking forward, she laid her hand on the top of the scepter (Esther 5:2).
Esther had successfully stepped out on faith, but her journey of faith started much earlier.
An unusual queen
The book of Esther reveals a very untraditional Persian queen. A Jewish orphan, she had been raised by her fatherly cousin Mordecai (Esther 2:7). Growing up, she may have had thoughts of marrying a devoted Jew with Mordecai’s blessing and raising a house full of children.
Her life took a different turn when the king issued a decree that all beautiful virgins were to be taken to his palace for the ultimate beauty pageant—with the goal of finding his new queen (Esther 2:1-8). “Lovely and beautiful,” Esther was taken to the palace with the other women, and she quickly “obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her.” In the end, the king selected her as his queen (Esther 2:17).
Life in the royal palace must have been surreal for the Jewish orphan. Keeping her ethnic identity a secret, she didn’t face any bigotry and received nothing but favor from everyone. Still, a dark reality soon entered her life that the palace walls couldn’t keep out.
A crisis of faith
The king’s most trusted adviser, Haman, hated the Jews, especially Mordecai, and had devised a plot to kill all of them. He had cunningly gained the king’s support for his plot, even though the king was not aware of the full horror of what his adviser was doing (Esther 3). If the Jews were to survive, Haman’s plans had to fail.
Mordecai, knew that Esther, the beloved queen, must go and sway her husband. It was a sound idea, but there was one hitch that Esther immediately brought up: to go before the king without his permission was inviting death.
Esther understood that if the king didn’t hold out the golden scepter to her, she could be killed before even reaching the king. To make matters worse, it had been over a month since the king had called for her (Esther 4:8-11).
A faithful step
Upon hearing Esther’s response, Mordecai, who exhibited great faith as well, replied with what has become one of the most famous quotations from the Bible.
“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14, emphasis added).
As a secret Jew in the king’s court, Esther may have been safe during Haman’s genocide. In the uncertain environment of a king’s palace, however, such safety wouldn’t last long. Mordecai also caused her to look at why she had been forced into the king’s court. Maybe it was because God Himself had orchestrated things so that Esther could save her people now.
Upon hearing and pondering Mordecai’s reply, Esther requested all of her people in the capital city fast with her for three days and nights. During that time she must have also prayed to the God of heaven for wisdom, guidance and the faith to carry on and save her people. If God allowed her to die, then so be it (Esther 4:16).
Regardless of how it all ended, she would step out on faith and save her people, or die trying.
The results of Esther’s faith
After the three days and nights of fasting, Esther figured out what she would do. Not yet sure if the king would allow her to live, she stepped out in faith and did everything that she could. Believing that God would give her favor in her husband’s eyes, she had a banquet worthy of the king prepared before she ever left the chamber. Dressing in her royal garments, she went before the king.
Esther’s faith was rewarded. Not only did the king extend the scepter and spare her life, but he asked her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!”Esther’s faith was rewarded. Not only did the king extend the scepter and spare her life, but he asked her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!” (Esther 5:3).
Instead of immediately revealing her petition, Esther asked the king to the banquet she had prepared. He eagerly accepted and brought along Haman at her request. At the banquet, she delayed him one more time and invited him to a second banquet.
While Esther prepared the second banquet, God had begun to work things out for Haman’s decline—in fact, during that day, Haman ended up having to honor Mordecai! (Esther 6). At the banquet, Esther then pleaded with the king to save her people. Haman saw that he was in trouble and began to beg for Esther’s help, but the king became furious with him, and he was arrested and killed on the very gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7).
Despite the demise of Haman, the decree was still looming over the Jews. Giving Mordecai the signet ring that was once given to Haman, the king allowed him and Esther to defeat the murderous plan with another document of their own that allowed the Jews to defend themselves against any and all attackers (Esther 8-9).
God had saved the Jews through the faith of the queen, and the great national Jewish festival of Purim memorializes that very event (Esther 9:26-28). More details can be found in our article about the book of Esther.
Lessons for us
Esther’s faith provides us with important lessons. One lesson is that sometimes our faith may not be as strong as it should be, but the important thing is that we take that step even when our faith is weak. We must do the right thing regardless. Sometimes we may need some gentle, loving guidance and advice, as Esther received. And for sure, fasting and prayer can also help us grow in faith.
Esther had the faith to stand in the hard times, as have many other women of faith. God has preserved these stories in the Bible as examples of those who acted in faith. How much faith do we have? For more information, read “What Is Faith?”