Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish…
The strange plan adopted for the providing of a new queen in the room of Vashti resulted in a good choice. We need not assume that Esther was a willing- candidate for royal honours. The account we have favours the belief that she passively yielded to a power which she could not resist. Among the attractive qualities she possessed, we may notice -
I. BEAUTY. She had a fair form and a good countenance. Physical beauty is not to be despised. It is one of God's gifts, and has much power in the world. Yet it exposes the soul to special danger. When not sanctified and guarded by the grace of God, it becomes a ready minister to vanity and varied sin. Moreover, it is frail and precarious. A temporary illness will destroy the brightest beauty. A few years will wrinkle the face of youth, and give a tottering gait to the most graceful form.
II. MODESTY. Esther's beauty did not make her vain and foolish. She avoided all arts to adorn it and increase its effects on others. Modesty is a lovely grace which adds a new charm to the highest physical beauty. It conciliates and wins by its own gentle force. An immodest assertion of one's self in any circumstances indicates either a want of moral sensitiveness, or a want of intellectual sight. A pure heart, a true self-knowledge, and the fear of God, are all and always modest.
III. DISCRETION. In her new and trying position Esther never failed in prudence. This was the result not of skilful planning, but of a good training, and of a modesty which quickly saw what was becoming. She made no effort to please (ver. 15). The very simplicity and artlessness of her conduct won her the favour of the king's servants, and finally drew to her the preference of the king himself. Truth and wisdom are one. There is no brighter jewel in womanly character than the discretion which reflects a simple and true heart (Proverbs 11:22).
IV. DUTIFULNESS. One of the most attractive qualities of Esther was her daughter-like fidelity to her foster-father Mordecai, both before and after her election to the throne. She admired, loved, and trusted him. and submitted as a child to his guidance. Young people dislike restraint, and long for the freedom of independence before they are ready to bear the responsibility of it. They often fret under the wise and affectionate safeguards which their parents impose. Yet in after life most men and women are willing to confess that they were very ignorant in youth, and that it would have been well for them if they had understood better, and followed more fully, the parental admonitions which seemed so irksome.
V. INTEGRITY. Esther bore well the sudden flush of prosperity which came upon her. This is first and best seen in her unchanging regard for the man who had been the guardian of her orphaned childhood and youth. Her elevation to Vashti's place made no change in her reverent affection for Mordecai. We read that she "did the commandments of Mordecai like as when she was brought up with him" (ver. 20). A very beautiful and instructive example! Changes in condition often work sad changes in heart and conduct. Many grow false to themselves and their past, and to those who formed the chief good of their past, when some tide of prosperity raises them into a higher social circle, and creates new ties which can have no sympathy or connection with the old ones. Nothing is more despicable than that pride of worldly advancement which forgets or looks coldly on early friends whose humble fidelities of affection may have laid the foundation of future success. The character and conduct of the Jewish maiden teach us -
1. A higher beauty than the physical. In all precious qualities beauty of mind and heart far transcends the most brilliant beauty of face or form. The "beauties of holiness" are the best adornments of man or woman. "Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary" (Psalm 96:6). "Zion is the perfection of beauty" (Psalm 50:2). The prayer of the Church is, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us" (Psalm 90:17).
2. A better possession than worldly rank. The treasure of a good understanding in the fear of the Lord is of more value than any grandeur of outward circumstance. A soul that is humble, patient, trustful, loving, holy, Christlike, has riches that all the gold of Ophir or the diamonds of Golconda could not buy, and is elevated higher than if it were to occupy the greatest earthly throne (Ecclesiastes 7:12; Matthew 6:19-21; John 6:27).
3. The importance of early training. Youth is the seed-time. Seeds are then sown which, in the after life, will surely bring forth fruit either good or evil. Well-meaning parents may be sometimes unwise, and well-trained children may sometimes go astray; but the rule is - "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Esther may be taken as an illustration of the powerlessness of worldly influences to change the feelings of the heart, or the judgments of the mind, or the government of the life, in the ease of one who in early youth has been trained, under loving care, in the principles and practices of a holy religious life.
4. The truth of the saying, "Man proposes, but God disposes." In all the incidents connected with Esther's election to be queen we see the guidance of an invisible hand. The narrative is brief, simple, and artless; but on that very account it impresses us all the more with the conviction of a Divine purpose and leading. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;