What does true beauty look like? Does our culture even know? Is beauty defined by pagaents, where contestants strut around in bathing suits and formal wear? Does it have to do with the right hairstyle and the correct diet and makeup that accenuatues the things you want to accenuate (and hides the things you want to hide)? And if beauty does mean more than that . . . where is it really found?
This morning, during my morning devotion time, I read the second chapter of Esther, and even though I had read it many times before, I found it intriging. Chapter two focuses on Esther’s time in the Palace Harem, receiving beauty treatments and waiting a year for her night with the King. Don’t you imagine that she was confused; uncomfortable; maybe even angry? She was in a situation that simply was not fair. A young virgin, breathtakingly beautiful, with her life stretched out before her. But she wasn’t living her dreams. She was waiting for something that she did not choose – one night with His Majesty – a night that would definitely change her life. After that night, if he was pleased, she would be Queen. (Things had not worked out so well for the last Queen). If he didn’t call her again, she would be unmarriable; relegated to life forever in the palace with the other girls.
It was like the ultimate episode of The Bachelor, only the stakes were much higher than a red rose!
So how did Esther succeed? I suppose I’ve just always heard it was because of her stunning physical beauty – that’s why the King was more attracted to her than the other girls. But after reading this morning, I am sure that it was more than that. There was a Palace full of beautiful girls. So why Esther?
The answer: there was something about her. Something mysterious. Esther guarded her words. She could keep a secret. She followed her Uncle’s advice and kept anyone from finding out about her Jewish background. In other words, she talked less and listened more and pursued wise choices. And the consequence – she had an air of mystery and integrity about her that was just as attractive as her figure.
In his book, Great Days With the Great Lives, Charles Swindoll wrote, “Finding herself unable to say no, Esther modeled grace before the face of the king’s influential servant, Hegai. What a difference between Esther and all the other women around her. Her inner qualities could not be ignored. They, in fact, captured the attention of the king’s servant.”
Swindoll added, “There is an unexplainable air of mystery about a woman, an unpredictability that men find intriguing. Esther’s ability to restrain herself only heightens the mystery—especially her verbal restraint. She knew much more than she told. She could keep a secret.
“Verbal restraint is fast becoming a forgotten virtue. Thanks to tell-all tabloids and hide-nothing television talk shows, nothing is restrained. When was the last time anyone in the media blushed? Yet restraint and control always work in your favor. Learn to keep confidences. Come to be known for keeping secrets! It’s part of having character marked by strength and dignity.”
Here’s the point – Esther was beautiful on the outside, but it was her strength and integrity that really ornamented her beauty. She was desirable on the inside and out. If only I could learn to guard my words and actions and esteem wise counsel has well as Esther did!
The story of Esther is sorted, to be sure. But it is pretty easy to see that God was at work – big time. We shouldn’t miss the fact, however, that Esther made herself blessable. She carried herself in a way that honored God and her family, and even the midst of sin-city, people were attracted to her character. They noticed her looks, but Esther went way beyond that. She clung to God and as a result, her beauty lit up a dark room.