Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare
How Far Does Beauty Go? - Esther 2:12-16
"Beauty is only skin-deep."
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
"Beauty IS as beauty DOES."
So many adages about beauty!! That which every woman desires and every man admires. Lots and lots of feminine pulchritude gathered under the harem roof in Susa, each young woman vying to be the king's choice for his new queen! But what did it take to be presented to his majesty for royal approval? Winning their local beauty contest to join the harem was just the start!
Beauty Is Only Skin-Deep
As already noted, when each girl arrived at the harem, she was given cosmetics and perfumes to use in beautifying treatments that continued for an entire year. For six months she either soaked in oil of myrrh or dabbed it onto her skin generously.....the girls used so much myrrh their pores exuded it! Myrrh was very expensive, but recall that King Ahasuerus was footing the cost of the beauty treatments--and it's the glory of a king to give generously.
We know from Scripture that oil is a type or picture of the Holy Spirit. For a year Esther soaked in oil. What a picture of the preparation God works in the life of one who is pressing on to know Him intimately. Acquaintance with a person can happen in a moment and is superficial. Relationship takes time. In Esther's case, her preparation to be anointed queen took twelve long months. Twelve months of testing to see how sincere she was in becoming a queen candidate. Twelve months of learning the ways of royalty and shedding her 'commoner' status, ways of living and doing. Under Hegai's tutelage, she was leaving her former life behind and being transformed into her future place in the kingdom.
Are you already seeing the parallel between Hegai's preparation of all the young women, and the grooming we receive as believers who press into knowing God intimately? It is the Holy Spirit who knows the mind and heart of God, and prepares us accordingly---to the degree we allow Him to go. Nor does He hurry. He takes longer than a year, many years sometimes, to remove the odors of the world and the taints sin and the world embedded in our nature. But He replaces them with the sweet odor of His Presence as He becomes the fabric of our character.
Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
The scope of the story narrows as we get into the story of Esther. Verse 13 says that "...anything that she (a virgin) desired was given her to take with her from the harem to the king's palace." When her turn came to meet the king, each girl was permitted to take with her whatever she desired and requested. We're told nothing about what that might be.
So it raises the question: What did they take? During the year of her beautification, each girl had plenty of time to ask that a special gift for the king be brought from her family or province. It could be the finest of fabrics made into a special dress or gown she would wear for the occasion. Or it might be a delicacy from her hometown, provincial literature, leather goods...something the king would especially enjoy. The list could go on and on.
Or perhaps when a girl came to the harem, she brought mementos that reminded her of home, and that is what she would choose to present to the king. Each young woman wanted to give him something unique and distinctive that made her stand out in his mind from all the other virgins. It was just figuring out what that 'something' would be that was tricky...and probably a secret she wouldn't share with any other woman in the harem. God's word provides no details--we can only speculate!
Beauty IS As Beauty DOES
What it does say is that when it was Esther's turn to meet the king, she asked for nothing. She didn't try to figure it out. Instead, true to her character, she asked Hegai's opinion and listened to his counsel. She wanted to take with her only what he suggested. After all, he knew the king and his tastes; she didn't.
Therefore, when Esther was presented to the king, she came empty-handed. Immediately, she fell at his feet, and her dialogue may have gone something like this:
"May your majesty live forever, oh King Ahasuerus! You are the ruler of this great realm. Everything in it and all its inhabitants are yours. I honor and lift up your name and your throne! You rule with fairness and equity for all people. In your name we live in peace and security. In you we trust our lives and the lives of our children."
"During this entire year you have provided lavish living quarters and servants to meet every need I had. You gave me costly perfumes and cosmetics, expensive foods and drink, and regal garments. You have omitted nothing, but have poured out your abundance for my comfort and well-being. You are generous without measure!"
"No matter what I would think to bring to you, I could find nothing that is not already yours! Therefore, I present to you the only thing I can give you. It is myself. I covenant to give you my honor, my loyalty and my love. I will be true to you, your servant forever."
When you come before God, what do you bring? Have you come to the place of such submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit that He has stripped you of everything you thought had worth and value? Has He emptied you of all, even the most minute detail in the depths of your nature, that could prove to be traitorous to God under pressure? Are you truly empty-handed? Are you empty of everything except the sweet perfume of His Presence and essence?
If you are, it is good! That is the only posture by which the Holy Spirit can take you into the secret place of God's Presence, that innermost knowledge of the Holy reserved for the one whom He finds trustworthy and who desires only Him, not His blessings. What is your greatest desire? What is your only desire? When it is God, you will meet Him!
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