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“Weak in the Knees”: KING XERSES, ESTHER AND MORDECAI

by Shellie R. Warren on November 12th, 2009 in Women

“Later, when King Xerxes’ anger had cooled and he was having second
thoughts about what Vashti had done and what he had ordered against
her, the king’s young attendants stepped in and got the ball rolling:
‘Let’s begin a search for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the
king appoint officials in every province of his kingdom to bring every
beautiful young virgin to the palace complex of Susa and to the harem
run by Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women; he will put
them through their beauty treatments. Then let the girl who best
pleases the king be made queen in place of Vashti.’

The king liked this advice and took it.

Now there was a Jew who lived in the palace complex in Susa. His name
was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish—a
Benjaminite. His ancestors had been taken from Jerusalem with the
exiles and carried off with King Jehoiachin of Judah by King
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon into exile. Mordecai had reared his cousin
Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, since she had no father or mother.
The girl had a good figure and a beautiful face. After her parents
died, Mordecai had adopted her.

When the king’s order had been publicly posted, many young girls were
brought to the palace complex of Susa and given over to Hegai who was
overseer of the women. Esther was among them.

Hegai liked Esther and took a special interest in her. Right off he
started her beauty treatments, ordered special food, assigned her seven
personal maids from the palace, and put her and her maids in the best
rooms in the harem. Esther didn’t say anything about her family and
racial background because Mordecai had told her not to.

Every day Mordecai strolled beside the court of the harem to find out how Esther was and get news of what she was doing.

Each girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes after she had completed
the twelve months of prescribed beauty treatments—six months’ treatment
with oil of myrrh followed by six months with perfumes and various
cosmetics. When it was time for the girl to go to the king, she was
given whatever she wanted to take with her when she left the harem for
the king’s quarters. She would go there in the evening; in the morning
she would return to a second harem overseen by Shaashgaz, the king’s
eunuch in charge of the concubines. She never again went back to the
king unless the king took a special liking to her and asked for her by
name.

When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king (Esther the daughter of
Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his daughter),
she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch in
charge of the harem, had recommended. Esther, just as she was, won the
admiration of everyone who saw her.

She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal palace in the tenth month,
the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of the king’s reign.

The king fell in love with Esther far more than with any of his other
women or any of the other virgins—he was totally smitten by her. He
placed a royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti.
Then the king gave a great banquet for all his nobles and
officials—’Esther’s Banquet.’ He proclaimed a holiday for all the
provinces and handed out gifts with royal generosity.”—Esther 2:1-17

Gee, just when you think you’ve covered everything, God comes and says “Oh no, grasshopper.”

Although I’m sure that most of us have heard the story of Esther
(seemingly retold with a twist or two in the story of Cinderella), as I
was rereading it last night, there was something that God said to me
just as sure as I am sitting here and typing this out: “Shellie, this
chapter needs to be a shout out to all of the aggressive women in the
world. You know, the ones who can’t be still and wait for their good
thing; the ones like you.”

Shoot, I ain’t ashamed to admit it. God says that if we humble
ourselves, he will exalt us in due time (I Peter 5:6) and so if it
takes admitting that I am one of the most “anxious for something”
people that I know, I am willing to do it so that I can learn how to
love my future mate well (and yes that means with patience—I
Corinthians 13:4).

Although I was tempted to address Queen Vashti (King Xerxes’ first
wife) and her funky attitude before we even got to Esther, my spirit is
led to deal with her when we get around to the marriage portion of this
study. For now, just let me say that if you are a woman with a nasty
attitude, not only does it displease God, but with it, you won’t be
able to keep a man around for very long either.

Remember that Proverbs 3 describes wisdom as a woman and in verse 7 it
says that “she” will make your life pleasant and will bring you peace.
If you are courting, engaged or even married and there’s always a lot
of drama centered around you and your relationship, check yo’self.

Great definitions for the word “peace” are: freedom of the mind from
annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity;
serenity; in a state of nonbelligerence; freedom from quarrels and
disagreements; harmonious relations; the absence of mental stress.

How interesting that the Bible says that God is not the author of
confusion but of peace (I Corinthians 14:33) and that it is something
that God has called us all to (I Corinthians 7:15) even when our spouse
is showing out.

So, be honest with yourself, ladies. When was the last time you annoyed
your partner? When was the last time you served as a distraction or
caused him anxiety? When was the last time you appeared slightly psycho
or obsessed when it came to the pursuit of him or something that you
wanted from him? When was the last time the two of you had an argument?
What part did you play in it (no one can argue alone)? When was the
last time that your partner said that you were stressin’ him out?

You know, some of the synonyms of “peace”/”peaceful” are: friendship,
love, order, happiness, pleasure, fulfillment, soothingness, comfort,
bliss, non-violent, gentle, undisturbed, collected, euphoria,
peacefulness, calmness, stillness and (hello) silence.

When was the last time that someone—especially your courtship partner
or spouse— was able to associate these words with you? If you can’t
remember when, then all I have to say is that God is a, actually THE
God of peace. So, if you are calling yourself his child, and you are
not providing that same peace for those around you and light and
darkness cannot mix (I John 1:5), then—hmm…

Some of us are still single because we are walking definitions of what
it is like to be the anti-peace: we are “irritating”, we are “noisy”,
we are “hostile”, we are “bitter”, we are “bothersome”, we are
“harassing” and “humiliating”. Quite frankly, we are a pain to be
around.

You know, one of the antonyms of “peace” is “insecure”. Again, the
first definition of “love” in the Love Chapter (I Corinthians 13:4) is
“patient”. If you really want to have a successful relationship with
someone else, the first thing that you need to do is let patience
(i.e., love) have its perfect work in you (James 1:4). You can’t be of
benefit to anyone else if you are not at peace: happy, fulfilled, in
love, gentle, non-violent, a friend. In other words, secure to and with
yourself.

Moving on.

King Xerxes was so through with Vashti that he demoted her, kicked her
out of her own county (kingdom) and then decided to look for another
mate at his personal servants’ suggestion (verses 2-4).
A Jewish man by the name of Mordecai had a cousin who he had been
raising as his own since the time that she lost her parents. Her name
was Haddasah (Myrtle Tree), but she was also known as Esther (Star).

Now, let me pause here for a moment because I know that God wants me to
say this to someone. The ending to this story is a very charmed one,
but as you can see, the beginning was a little rocky. I lost a
boyfriend almost 11 years ago and it still shakes me to the core at
times. I can only imagine what it must feel like to not have your
parents while growing up.

So, let me say that to those who have experienced painful losses, God
said in his word that “All things work together for good to those who
love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). It may
not make sense to you right now, but God is not just the Alpha
(beginning) but also the Omega (end—Revelation 1:8). Stay obedient
and purpose driven and he will do “exceedingly and abundantly what you
could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Sometimes you will have to suffer persecution as all of God’s children
do at some point or another (2 Timothy 3:12); but something that I was
just sharing with a friend yesterday is that although God says that
those who suffer for righteousness’ sake will be blessed (I Peter
3:14), the Bible also says that we must be content with what we have in
the process (Hebrews 13:5). Sit tight. God has assured us in Hebrews
6:9-15 that he will not forget our works and labors of love. Just as he
told the father of faith, Abraham, in diligence, God also tells us
“Surely blessing I will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you.”

This could not be more evident than in the story of Esther. When
Mordecai heard the announcement of the king’s desire to select another
mate, he sent Esther, by way of the king’s eunuch, Hegai to the palace
(verse 8).

Oh, here comes that wise counsel thing again. Proverbs 18:1 in the NKJV
states: “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire. He rages
against all wise judgment.”

If you are single and in the position where there are people who are
looking out for you, you better thank God and your lucky stars for
them! Esther could have easily told Mordecai, “You’re crazy. I ain’t
goin’ to some strange man’s house.” But it wasn’t about the king’s
home. It was about the trust that she had for Mordecai and the God that
he served.

So many of us fall into traps because we don’t listen to wise counsel
and it’s because we don’t trust those giving it to us. I am so grateful
to be at a place in my relationships with my family and (authentic)
friends where I know I can trust them. I can trust their counsel, their
rebuke and through prayer, their instruction. One of my favorite lines
in the movie, The Notebook (if I already shared this, forgive me, this
is chapter 20!!!) is when Noah said, “I’m not afraid to hurt your
feelings.” You could tell that he loved Allie; that was quite evident.
But, loving someone doesn’t mean that you won’t tell them the truth or
stand up for what’s right even when they don’t get it (Proverbs 27:6).
Love is the space in which all good things can grow and the power in
which all miracles are manifested.

It was because of this love that Esther trusted Mordecai and embarked upon her mission.

Now the Bible says that she was pretty hot on the physical tip (verse
7), but in order to get to the point to where she received favor from
Hegai (verse 9), she had to have more to offer than that. Remember, the
story tells us that many beautiful women were brought to the palace,
but it was Esther who received special treatment. Ladies, don’t be
deceived. J-Lo has been married and divorced. Halle Berry has been
married and divorced. Angelina Jolie, to me (and yes, beauty is in the
eye of the beholder) is one of the most physically attractive women I
have ever seen and who knows what she’s doing. If you want to not only
get a man’s attention, but keep it, please focus on your character.

Unfortunately, so many denominations take this scripture out of context:

“Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are
husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be
captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer
appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of
your clothes—but your inner disposition.

Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.
The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were
good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care
of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true
daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and
unintimidated.”—I Peter 3:14

It doesn’t say not to style your hair, wear jewelry and get couture
clothing (if that’s your thing). It simply says that it’s your inward
beauty that matters most. Let me say this, though. I am a firm believer
that whatever is going on with you on the inside will reflect on the
outside. You can have all the love of Jesus in the world, but if your
hair ain’t combed, your lips are chapped and your clothes don’t fit,
I’m not going to be totally convinced. Take it from me: When you come
to the full revelation of just how much God loves you—inside and
out—-you will take pride in it…both inside and out.

And because Esther had it going on, both inside and out, she was given
great favor with Hegai. He granted her seven servant girls and even
moved her to the best part of the women’s quarters. Ladies, during this
time of singleness, you may not have your “king” yet, but ask God to
give your spiritual insight into the favor that he is giving you even
now as the direct result of your obedience.

I don’t have a husband (yet) but I can’t remember the last time I went
out with a platonic male friend and paid for anything. Just last week,
I was disrespected by someone and my “brothers” wanted to address it
because they were looking out for me. Lately, there have been speaking
and writing opportunities that have come my way that I wouldn’t be able
to create for myself. And, every now and then, God gives me a glimpse
(via dreams, prophesy and scripture) of what lies ahead. My sistahs,
don’t be so desperate to get a husband that you miss the “pampering
time” in your singleness. God doesn’t discriminate (Jeremiah 31:3). He
doesn’t just bless the wives; he loves, adores and wants to bless all
of his daughters.

Esther 2:10 goes on to say that Esther didn’t tell anyone about her
family and who her people were. In other words, she didn’t tell all of
her business. Now I know that some of you are laughing even as I said
that because Lord knows, I am pretty, let’s just say candid. But, there
is a lesson to be learned even in this verse. When you go to God in
prayer, he will show you what you need to share and what you need to
keep silent (and how and when) in the effort to obtain your heart’s
desire. Ecclesiastes 3: 7 confirms this by reminding us all that there
is a time to keep silent and a time to speak.

So how do we know that time? Well, James 1:5 tells us that if anyone
lacks wisdom we can ask of God who gives liberally and without
reproach. And, Matthew 6:6 instructs us in just how to do that:

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your
door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father
who sees in secret will reward you openly.”—Matthew 6:6 (NKJV)

And what happens when you do? Well, one of my all-time favorite scriptures in the Bible is Amos 3:7:

“Surely God does nothing, unless he reveals his secret to his servants, the prophets.” (NJJV)

Now, you must be committed to being one of his servants to get divine
revelation but once you do, know that God doesn’t want to keep you in
the dark about what is taking place in your life. More and more, I am
coming to see that he shares just as much as we can handle based on his
timing and our level of spiritual maturity.

I know in my own personal life, because I do tend to think very hard,
sometimes even too much information too soon can be a temptation in my
daily walk. God promised me that with every temptation he would provide
a plan of escape (I Corinthians 10:13); that plan of escape, at times,
is a lack of information. Sometimes, when you have too many details
concerning your future, there is a “temptation” to no longer operate in
faith and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

For instance, if I knew my wedding date right now, why keep writing
this series? I could instead be using this time to obsess over Bride
Magazine and The Knot Dot Com. Yes, I know that I know that I know that
God has a husband custom-made for me and even now he is preparing him,
but in the meantime, there are other tasks at hand. In faith, I am
believing God for my mate. In works, I am living a full life of
contentment in my singleness in preparation for him and the next level
of my purpose (most days, keep me lifted—James 2:14).

Now here’s where the good part comes in. The Bible says that each woman
had to complete one year of beauty treatments before coming before the
king: six months of oil and myrrh and six months of perfumes and
cosmetics (verse 12).

A great definition of beauty is: the quality present in a thing or
person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind,
whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound,
etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a
personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).

Remember, I Peter 3:4 says that we should be compelled to have an
“incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”. Some of us even
now are in God’s chamber of preparation so that our beauty can be
revealed and/or restored, not just so we will be appeasing to the eye
but so that we will bring satisfaction to the mind through our gentle
and quiet spirit.

Now, listen all of my “I’m naturally loud sistahs”. Without a doubt, I
can relate. But remember, the scripture didn’t say mouth; it says
spirit. A great quote was written by a man by the name of Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe and it says, “If God wanted me otherwise, he would
have made me otherwise.” Next time someone tries to criticize you for
being anything other than yourself, refer them to this, smile and walk
away.

But on the flip side, do note that when your spirit—the soul of you,
the attitude that inspires, animates, or pervades though, feeling or
action—is made gentle and quiet, everything about you will begin to
adapt to its nature.

Some of you know that you could stand some beauty treatments. You need
to learn how to have a “quiet and gentle spirit”. You need to spend
time in bubble baths and getting your nails and feet down. You need to
invest in some myrrh and anoint your body (because myrrh was first
mentioned as the principal ingredient in holy anointing oil in Exodus
30:23). You need to get a stylist (for your hair and clothes). You need
to meditate on the Proverbs 31 woman and get your personal lives in
order.

In other words, some of you are wondering why it’s taking years for
your mate to come and it’s because God wants to you to take one year to
completely focus on yourself. I feel like I would be a little ahead of
myself in sharing with you what I believe, in faith, that he has shared
with me concerning my mate and the timing of his arrival, but let me
just say to you that this scripture came to me loud and clear, oh…let’s
just say a few years ago:

“So he said to the vinedresser, See here! For these three years I have
come looking for fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down!
Why should it continue also to use up the ground [to deplete the soil,
intercept the sun, and take up room]?

But he replied to him, Leave it alone, sir, [just] this one more year, till I dig around it and put manure [on the soil].

Then perhaps it will bear fruit after this; but if not, you can cut it down and out.”—Luke 13:7-9 (AMP)

Thank God for his mercy in not “cutting me down” years ago when he
first brought this to me. But like Esther’s one year preparation
experience, I get what he’s saying. I was created to produce the Fruit
of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23—shout out to Venus for the
correction in the last chapter). Nothing displeases God more than when
we are not doing what we were created to do. If you’re looking for a
man, forget that (you ain’t supposed to be the one looking anyway);
instead focus on cultivating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, not just to those
around you but (hello) within yourself as well.

The spiritual significance of the number one is “beginning”. Some of the definitions of the word include:
an act or circumstance of entering upon an action or state; the act or
process of bringing or being brought into being; to come into
existence; learning the fundamentals; initiation, inauguration,
inception; to take the first step in doing; the first part or section
of something.

As you are walking through this study, some of you are just coming into
the understanding of singleness and courtship is. Some of you could use
a year of abstinence (self-control). Some of you could use a year of
volunteering at a non-profit (kindness). Some of you could use a year
of donating a certain amount of your pay check to someone else’s needs
(goodness). Some of you could use a year not dating anyone else so that
you can learn how to focus on God and God alone (faithfulness). I’m not
sure what your year could do for you, but I do know that God gives
nothing without a time of preparation.

We will get into the next part of this series in the next chapter, OK? But for now, focus on your homework for today:

Make a commitment to pamper yourself. Get in the gym. Drink more water.
Donate your some of your TV and phone time to a worthy cause (outside
of yourself). Treat yourself to a massage or manicure. Purchase some
myrrh and anoint your head, your heart, your womb, your hands and your
feet. Get a makeover (it won’t kill you). And get a dictionary and read
the definitions of the Fruit of the Spirit. Remember, in year one of
wife preparation, it’s only the beginning!

©Shellie R. Warren/2006

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