I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Esther in the sacred scriptures. I’ve read it and researched various themes in the story that I find hold a significant message. Is funny how I can read something many times and every time, there is some new golden nugget that catches my eye and stirs my soul.
Today I was captured by a statement at the end of chapter 2, verse 14 of the book of Esther.[quote style=”boxed”]Each girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes after she had completed the twelve months of prescribed beauty treatments—six months’ treatment with oil of myrrh followed by six months with perfumes and various cosmetics. When it was time for the girl to go to the king, she was given whatever she wanted to take with her when she left the harem for the king’s quarters.
She would go there in the evening; in the morning she would return to a second harem overseen by Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch in charge of the concubines. She never again went back to the king unless the king took a special liking to her and asked for her by name.[/quote]
That statement I’ve highlighted above stayed with me for a while. I meditated on the heaviness of what could have been going through the young maiden’s hearts. I can imagine the feelings, the fear and anticipation and the resolution that it would require to live a life of complete separation from all you’ve always known in order to please the king.
These young girls were taken from their homes-regardless of their personal preference or own desires. Although they are treated to exquisite beauty treatments and given the option of taking any gems or adornments they wanted in order to present themselves beautiful before the king. At the end of the day, they were destined to live a confined, secluded and perhaps lonely life, unless they were found pleasant to the king.
We knew that Esther had God’s favor going for her-besides her natural beauty, but I can’t help but wonder about the other girls…Enjoying the riches of the kingdom, but alienated from an intimate relationship with the king. –Makes for a tragedy, doesn’t it? Think of the eating disorders and back stabbing that must have plagued these girls in their hopes to be the one.
In the popular TV show, Top Model, when a contestant is rejected, she goes home and continues living her life, but for these girls there was no going back. It could be a year before one of them would enjoy any kind of intimacy with the king. What kind of life is that? I don’t really know all the historical facts, so I cannot say that life was miserable for those rejected by the king, but I can only imagine, which brought me to our own relationship with God. Him being the kind and us being the maidens who must present ourselves pleasing before him in order to be chosen to live with him and enjoy his touch and his favor. I wonder what our preparation consists of…How badly we want to be chosen. One night made a difference for one of those maidens. We have free access, yet I fear we take that for granted.
The priests in the Old Testament had to go through a cleansing process before entering the holy place where the presence of God dwelt. Their garments had to be processed, the utensils had to be purifies and a sacrificed had to be made. All of it just to be able to stand before God almighty.
Though we know Jesus became that sacrifice for humanity, and the rituals have been discarded, I wonder if the “awe effect” is still there. Isaiah stood in the presence of God and fell to his knees saying “woe is me”, Paul was confronted by Jesus on the Road to Damascus and he fell of his horse blinded. The men who walked by him on the Road to Emmaus said their hearts burned within them.
What happens when you and I stand in His presence? What kind of preparations do we make before entering in? I’d like to say that if I was one of those girls in the harem, I would do the unthinkable to make sure I am chosen to be in the presence of the king, but the truth is, it all comes down to how badly I want Him. I mean Him-not the kingdom, but Him. I wonder…