We read the story of Esther in the book that bears her name. Esther 1 gives us the story of a grand banquet that the king of Persia held. In the midst of the celebration, the king decided to call forth his beautiful queen, Vashti, to come and dance before his friends at the feast. When Vashti refused, King Ahasuerus banished her from the court.
In chapter 2, we learn that after Vashti was sent away, the king embarked on a search for a new queen. After searching high and low in his realm, the king’s advisors found a Jewess named Hadassah, who was being raised under the name Esther by her cousin Mordecai. After many months of preparation, Esther won the king’s favor and became queen.
Esther 3 describes the plot of Haman, one of the king’s important advisors, to annihilate the Jews in Persia because of Mordecai’s refusal to bow to Haman. Truly, this was a key turning point in the history of redemption. If Haman had succeeded, the Jews would have been wiped out, and there would be no Messiah and no salvation for the world.
Great mourning broke out among the Jews, culminating in Mordecai’s plea for Esther to intervene in her people’s behalf. Fearing for her own life, Esther initially refused (4:1–11). But Mordecai warned her that if she did not involve herself, the Jews would be rescued by the hand of another. However, Esther herself would not escape death if she thought she could preserve her life by doing nothing (vv. 12–14). Upon hearing that, Esther vowed to go before the king upon threat of death (vv. 15–17).
Her courage is even more remarkable when we consider that the name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther. This is the author’s way of depicting the hidden hand of providence, the Lord’s working in ways that are not immediately discernible to us. Esther trusted this providence even when she had no idea how things would turn out for her.