Esther 2:2 – 4 “Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, ‘Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful girls into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.’ This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.”
Yesterday, we learned about poor Xerxes, and how he was moping around the palace. He was depressed because he had lost the war, and he had no beautiful queen to console him. And when the rich tyrant ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I’m sure in his misery, he made everyone around him miserable.
So his attendants said, “We’ve gotta do something. He needs a diversion.” They put their heads together to come up with a plan.
“I know!” one of them suggested. “Let’s have a beauty contest for a new queen, and the king can be the judge! He can keep all the girls for his harem, and choose his favorite to be the new queen!” The king liked the idea, and thus the royal beauty contest began.
This may seem like a glamorous development in the story, and in some ways it was. These girls were given the best beauty treatments, beautiful clothes, expensive jewelry – everything they needed to impress the king. But appearances can be deceptive.
Today, when we watch a beauty contest, the contestants are there by choice. But in this particular contest, the girls were taken by force. If they were pretty and young and pure, they had to come. In modern beauty contests, the contestants might receive money and scholarships and cars, and then they go home. But all of the girls in Xerxes’ contest would simply be locked away, never to be married, never to know love or family or normal lives. Oh, sure, they would be well-fed. They would have a roof over their heads, and pretty clothes to wear. But they would forever be trophies, tucked away in a closet, only to be taken out at the king’s whim.
The winner would become the next queen. But considering the tyrant who was king, this was no great prize. She would be forced to marry a man who had banished his former wife, simply because she refused to humiliate herself in front of a bunch of drunks. The next queen would surely walk on pins and needles all her life, worrying when she would anger her husband and join Vashti.
This sheds a different light on the lifestyles of the rich and famous, doesn’t it? Sometimes, we look at people who are rich, or beautiful, or successful, and we think they must have fairy tale lives. But the truth is, we are all just people. We all live in a fallen, messed up world, and we all have problems.
Sometimes, by wishing ourselves into different lives and different circumstances, we might be wishing ourselves into bigger problems than we currently know.
One of the greatest things we can learn in this life is to be content with our circumstances, whatever they may be. While sitting in a Roman prison, the apostle Paul wrote “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,” (Philippians 4:12). Whatever your circumstances, my friend, God is there. He may not give us all great wealth or beauty, but He does offer joy and peace. And that is a greater prize than any beauty contest can offer.
Dear Father, Thank You for giving me peace and joy. Please help me to be content with my circumstances, instead of envying other people who seem to have more.
We all know that the grass seems always to be greener on the other side of the fence. To learn to be content in my circumstances is a lesson that, sadly, I have to learn over and over again. It is comforting to know that in all circumstances, GOD IS.
In the harvest, in the blight,
I will praise Thee!
In the darkness, in the light,
I will praise Thee!
In the silence, in the song,
In aloneness, in the throng,
In the nighttime, all day long,
I will praise Thee!
My Conversations With God at http://www.jeanmatthewhall.blogspot.com
Well said, both of you ladies!
I wanted to share with you my conviction this morning. On my way to work, I drove by several houses that are for sale and reminded myself that I needed to look them up on their respective real estate agents web sites to see what the inside looked like and how much they were asking for them. I did and was immediately filled with envy for the lucky people who would get to live in these houses. I then looked down at my clock and realized that I had just enough time to read your devotion before I began my work day. I clicked the link and begin to cry at my desk as I knew that God meant these words especially for me this morning. I am so blessed. Blessed to have an amazing husband. Blessed to have my family. Blessed with an amazing church. Blessed with unbelievable friends. Blessed with a roof over my head, food, clothes and money to pay for it all and I always want more. Thank you for your sharing the word God gives you.
Thank you for sharing that, Amy! I think we are all guilty. After all, who wouldn’t want to live in a big, fancy house, and have all the beautiful things money can buy? But we also know, deep down, that money can’t buy happiness. Many of the people living in those houses may look at our lives and feel envy. You are wise to recognize the blessings that God has already given you.
As I read your words, I whispered a prayer thanking God once again for my own blessings. Thanks!
“Oh, sure, they would be well-fed. They would have a roof over their heads, and pretty clothes to wear. But they would forever be trophies, tucked away in a closet, only to be taken out at the king’s whim”.
I should think that this is true, thousands of years later, of lots of women who have chosen a particular lifestyle. What a world it would be if we all realised that God has a plan for us, and that we should learn to be content with where we are now, rather than ‘go it alone’ and end up in misery somewhere we’re not supposed to be.
Did that make any sense? Sorry, I’ve only got the computer for two minutes so I haven’t had time to think out my comment properly!!
Jackie, I was sitting here just as your comment popped up. Yes, it makes perfect sense. God cares about each of us, individually. Each one has such great value to Him, and He has a unique purpose for each of us. You’re right. There are a lot of people out there who don’t know that they have great worth in God’s eyes.
Great to see you back!
my father always used to quote
give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.”
My Dad lived with this prayer on his lips.
I never heard him worry about money nor saw I him jealous of those who had more.
I was raised to give the emperor what his was and God one tenth of the income. I think there’s a great blessing in being obedient to God in that aspect.
It is not always easy though, I always think I|need just a little bit more than I earn.
Silly or what? I, the lily on the field.
Hi Felisol! Yes, it is silly, but we are all guilty. I love your lily metaphor, though. Yes, He does take care of us, and gives us so much more than we even need! If only we could truly be as carefree as the lilies, without a care in the world, trusting our Father completely . . . then we would have it made, wouldn’t we?
Sounds like your father was a wonderful man.