In the year 478 B.C. in the land of Persia (present-day Iran) a beautiful 15 year old girl was kidnapped and taken from her home. No stranger to tragedy, Hadassah had lost both parents at an early age and was providentially taken into the home of a kindly older cousin. If it brought her any comfort, she was not the only girl to be unceremoniously snatched away that night. Several hundred other damsels from the provinces of this kingdom were also captured and spirited away to Shushan, the site of the king's palace.
Perhaps even these isolated young ladies had heard that the king and queen had a royal tiff that left the king looking for love elsewhere. Quite possibly they suspected the reason for their sudden abduction. Remarkably, Hadassah did some capturing of her own as soon as she found herself in the house of the women. She won the admiration of the keeper of the house, who gave her seven maids to assist in her preparation for the king's beauty contest. He also reserved the finest apartment in the house for her and her maids. Certainly she was beyond beautiful; she was also courageous and graceful. Instead of bewailing her fate or cursing her captors, she comforted her competitors. Although the situation was not of her choosing, she maintained an air of serenity. She conducted herself as a queen before her feet ever touched the palace floor.
From whence came this resiliency? I believe she grasped the concepts contained in the 139th Psalm.
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
2 You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
3–4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
5 You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness you follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past
With your hand of love upon my life,
you impart a blessing to me.
6 This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.
7 Where could I go from your Spirit?
10 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.
11 It’s impossible to disappear from you
or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.
13 You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
14 I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
15 You even formed every bone in my body
when you created me in the secret place,
carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something.
16 You saw who you created me to be before I became me!
Before I’d ever seen the light of day,
the number of days you planned for me
were already recorded in your book.
17–18 Every single moment you are thinking of me!
How precious and wonderful to consider
that you cherish me constantly in your every thought!
O God, your desires toward me are more
than the grains of sand on every shore!
When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.
(From The Passion Translation)
Did you notice verse 5? "You've gone into my future to prepare the way." How utterly reassuring! We have that same promise. Young Hadassah knew who and whose she was. She also trusted that the king was not in charge of her destiny; that was held by much more capable and loving hands. Understand that it may have been a dazzling thought to become queen, but the entry fee for this competition was extremely high. There were several hundred contestants, and the 99% who weren't chosen were then resigned to spend the rest of their lives in the king's harem. Undoubtedly, reality threatened Hadassah's composure at times. The purification process of twelve months allowed plenty of time for these worrisome thoughts.
Why did the process take twelve months? Due to the fact that pregnancy tests hadn't been invented yet, the king wanted to be sure that any heir produced with his queen would be his own. This reminds us that our King allows no flesh to glory in His presence. Everything that brings glory to Him in our lives is the work of His spirit. We must learn to give preference to the nudging of the Holy Spirit instead of responding to fleshly impulses. John 15:4 in the Amplified Version says "Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me." King James says quite simply in verse 5, "without Me, you can do nothing."
Sid Roth, a Messianic Jew, has stated that he sees the book of Esther as THE end-time book for the present day church. There are many fitting comparisons in this book to relate to our lives as we prepare for the return of our King. The keeper of the women's house schooled Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, on how to prepare herself to go before the king. During these twelve months, the young ladies soaked in various oils, spices and ointments. Myrrh, the most notable of these, removed odors and left the skin clean, soft and pure. It stimulated the immune system and promoted release from fear and stress. Myrrh also killed parasites. Don't we want to get rid of those things that pull the very life and energy from us, draining us of physical, emotional and spiritual strength? This remarkable oil of myrrh represents the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
John 14:26 says the Holy Spirit will teach us all things. We're also aware that He does not speak of Himself, but relays messages from our Father. We would do well to heed His instructions. I have a feeling that Hadassah was an attentive student. You probably know the happy ending of this story; our young heroine was indeed chosen to become Queen Esther. Five years later, God used her to save the nation of the Jews. The main theme of this book is that God is always working behind the scenes. This thought is encapsulated in the statement her cousin, Mordecai, made to her at the moment of crisis. When she hesitated, he reminded her that perhaps she had come to the kingdom for such a time as this.
What can we take away from this beautiful, breathtaking story? For one, I am very thankful that we can all be chosen to reign with our King. Esther's life serves as a reminder that nothing is wasted in God's economy and He has indeed been preparing us for the situation we are facing today. Noteworthy also is the principle that our actions affect others, quite possibly people that we will never meet in this life. In these demanding times, the most difficult concept is that of "soaking" in the Holy Spirit, turning aside to slow down and listen to His whisper. Don't we need this oil to make us immune to the weight and worry of the world and to purify us from the contaminants we face daily?