Esther—Queen of Courage
What Bible characters come to mind when you think of courage? The apostle Paul? David? Or perhaps Daniel in the lions’ den? Most of the time we only think of men when people mention heroes of the Bible. But the Bible also talks about courageous women—like Ruth, Hannah, and Mary. In the Old Testament book of Esther, we learn of another brave woman whose courage often is overlooked.
When Esther was a young Jewish woman (with no mother or father, but only a cousin named Mordecai to look after her), Ahasuerus (a-haz-u-E-rus), King of Persia, was searching for a new queen. King Ahasuerus decided to hold a beauty pageant to help him decide who the new queen should be. Beautiful girls from all over the kingdom were brought to his palace to be treated with special oils, spices, and food. Esther was so beautiful that she won the favor and approval of the king more than any other girl. He set a crown on her head and made her queen.
About 4½ years after being crowned queen, one of the king’s royal officials named Haman became very angry with the Jews and wanted to destroy all of them (this would have included Queen Esther!). When Esther’s cousin Mordecai heard about the plot, he asked Queen Esther to go and beg the king for mercy on behalf of the Jewish people. The only problem was that the king had isolated himself in the inner court, and anyone who approached him without being called upon could be killed. [Believe it or not, talking to the king without being invited (even if you were the queen) would mean risking your life.] But Esther was courageous enough to face her fears in order to save her people.
When the king saw Esther, he held out the golden scepter and welcomed her into his presence (Esther 5:2). After she begged him to spare her life and the lives of all Jews, the king not only saved the Jews from being killed, but he wrote new laws that protected them from any other attempted attack on their lives.
By her example, Esther teaches us that we can overcome fear with God’s help. Just as she stood up for what was right, God expects us to do the same. For "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).