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.