By Rev. Dr. Cynthia Kittredge
“For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:14
This marks the dramatic moment when Esther, favored member of the harem of King Ahasuerus, makes a shift from a person who is acted upon to one who acts decisively and effectively. Mordecai’s provocative exclamation expresses the sense of divine destiny:,
“Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”
Yes, this is indeed the critical time for Esther. This colorful biblical book shows how Esther rises to this occasion and becomes an unexpected hero. Unable to use direct means to gain her objective, Esther, as a female member of a subordinate group, must use care and subterfuge to prevail in risk and danger. Knowing the king’s character, she appeals to his emotions. She proclaims a fast and prepares to confront he king. Relying on her knowledge of the king’s character, she appeals to his emotions. Attired in her queenly robes, she gains his favor, and develops her strategy to defeat Haman and save her people.
In this Jewish novella, we readers root for the underdog, Esther, and take delight in her eventual triumph against all odds. The plot twists and turns, and whatever spiritual lessons are to be learned here, they come through melodrama, entertainment, and humor. Some times human ingenuity and creativity are required to realize God’s purposes.
What unexpected heroes do you know from your own life?
Times of crisis call forth extraordinary courage. Have you known your own character or that of another transformed by severe challenge?
Holy One, in extreme times, grant us perceptive wisdom and strenuous courage. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Kittredge is professor of New Testament and Academic Dean at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas.