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Walking with Esther Through Life’s Unfortunate Circumstances

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NIV)

Perhaps the greatest truth about God for us in this messed up world is that he can use any mess for his glory. Even working behind the scenes, God can bring salvation in us and through us. This is seen especially in the book of Esther where God’s name is not mentioned a single time.

I think we often get an overly romanticized view of Queen Esther because of her title; there is nothing romantic or royal about her situation. The unidentified author of this book tells us that she was an orphan with her uncle Mordecai acting as her guardian. Mordecai’s family had been deported at the time when King Jehoiachin was taken captive from Judah. Esther had experienced the death of both of her parents, and she was an exile in a foreign country. Because of her beauty, she was drafted into the king’s harem.

Here’s how that worked: Esther was part of a group of women who were available to the king for sex. She did not have the freedom to come and go as she pleased. The women who were not chosen as wife to Xerxes could not just return to their families. Rather, they were kept as concubines to be on call for the king’s pleasure. In return, they were housed and fed and had access to whatever “amenities” the king may have chosen to provide, such as the beauty treatments we see in Esther’s case.

Consider the male counterpart here. Just as young women were drafted for harems, young men were drafted as eunuchs in the king’s service. They were castrated so that they could be trusted to oversee the king’s concubines. This was an unfortunate circumstance for both the men and women.


“This was an unfortunate circumstance for both the men and women.”


While we would like to make the story more appealing by adding a love element, here’s what the text describes:

“And this is how she would go to the king: In the evening she would go there [to the palace] and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.” (Esther 2:14, NIV)

There wasn’t a get-to-know-you process. She went to him at night and left him in the morning to join the not-a-virgin group. Let’s also remember the kind of man Xerxes is portrayed to be in Scripture: a drunk who would divorce his wife (and make a national example of her) because she wouldn’t parade herself before his drunk friends.

This is the situation of this orphan exile when God, though not named or credited here, acted to move her from concubine to wife and queen. With this came even more unfortunate circumstances for Esther because now she was the only one with access to the king who could save the Jewish nation from the genocidal decree made by Haman.

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14, NIV)


“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”


Perhaps some unfortunate circumstances have been foisted on you, or perhaps you’ve even brought some on yourselves. Either way, have you ever considered your circumstance and wondered, How in this world can this be redeemed? I have thought this in my own life a few times. However, I’ve never seen one of these circumstances through to the other side and not been able to look back and see God’s hand all through the matter. God’s providence is not always apparent in the predicament, but when he brings you through, I bet you’ll be able to find his name written all over it if you have turned to him for help.

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16, NIV)

Try reading the book of Esther and just making note of everything that happens in Esther and Mordecai’s favor that could not be coincidence. Remove chance and insert the hand of God, and you will find his name glorified all through a book where he’s never even mentioned. It would serve us all well to practice this in our own lives as well. He can redeem any situation so that he is glorified. We should honor him for his working and accomplishing what we are powerless to achieve.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).


“God can redeem any situation so that he is glorified.”


Excerpted from Tina Wilson’s 365-day chronological Bible study Step into Scripture: A Daily Journey to Understanding Your Bible

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