THE BOOK OF ESTHER
**Warning: This post is heavy on the Bible/Christianity; just in case you’re allergic**
Once upon a time, there lived a man called Mordecai who was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin. He lived in the Persian city of Susa and for the most part was unproblematic. Mordecai had an uncle named Aminadab who had a daughter named Esther. Esther they say, was quite the beauty. When Uncle Aminadab passed away, Mordecai became the legal guardian of his niece Esther and raised her solo into womanhood.
In the city where Mordecai lived reigned King Xerxes, a rich and powerful king who ruled over 127 provinces spanning from India all the way to Sudan. King Xerxes was stupendously wealthy and powerful, him sabi enjoy life well well. Infact, King Xerxes sabi enjoy life so tey there was a time he threw a party for 6 months straight and invited all the “who is who” from all over the world. During these parties, they can never tell you that jollof has finished, say who die?! Infact, no need to share one bottle of wine for 4 people, na one bottle per person, to be topped up at will… finest selection of drinks flowed freely. Everything aplenty. In addition to feeding people, King Xerxes would display his wealth and show-off all his gold, jewels, marble, the finest linens etc. Real jaiye jaiye master this King. I like him. After all, money is for spending.
One of the days of the party, King Xerxes decided to also show off his very beautiful wife, Queen Vashti. He ordered that she appear before him and his room full of powerful merrymakers [take note that the Queen/or anyone else for that matter was not allowed to enter the King’s presence without being summoned. To do otherwise is punishable by death]. Anyways, I dunno if Queen Vashti was PMS-ing that fateful day or small madness don start to catch am but homegirl refused to appear before the King ooo. Ah! Who dares?
The King was embarrassed in front of his guests and this made him furious. His advisers were like “wee we not take eet!” They said – if you allow this type of behaviour go unpunished, you are setting a precedent and all our wives will follow suit with the disrespect. Please make an example of her – and so, King Xerxes decreed for Vashti to NEVER appear before him again and a search began for a new Queen to replace her.
All the beauties across the 127 provinces were brought to the palace and groomed for years until such a time for the King to pick. Of this selection of maidens, Esther [a jew] belonged. Long story short, the king picked Esther and she became Queen. She never disclosed her real jewish identity and never mentioned that she was related to Mordecai who at this time had become a member of the King’s court…..
Wait!!!! This was supposed to be a synopsis. There’s still so much I haven’t told you guys. Such as:
- How did Mordecai end up in the King’s court?
- The trajectory of jealousy manifested through a man named Haman
- How Queen Esther did a brave thing even in the face of death
- The boomerang effect these series of events had on the rest of the kingdom and for the Jews.
YOU KNOW WHAT…. Go and read the rest of the story yourself. It is a very short chapter [only 6 pages] of the bible. Read it first, then come back and continue reading this post. I’m not going to do all the heavy lifting by myself lol
So while reading the book of Esther today, I thought I’d recap a few of the lessons that personally resonated with me particularly. So here goes:
- In life we will all experience trails and struggles. Every single one of us. Mostly, a quick prayer will fix it but there are some type of problems/attacks/issues that require proper warfare. Those sleepy whispers in bed just won’t cut it, you’ll need to sit up and strategize. Approach it like a battle/war, knowing you only have two options: To conquer it and be victorious or to die. Queen Esther knew this when she decided to go appear before King Xerxes without being summoned first, yet ….
- Prepare!! Nobody just wakes up to go to war having spent last night partying, eating & drinking. Solders in a war take years/months to learn their maps, design their strategies and modify them to suit different possibilities, gather armoury, get fit and strong, stay alert etc. For Esther it was a 3 day prep that involved – stripping herself of her queenly appearance, humbling herself dressed in sackcloth and dung, no shower or serenren, fasting and praying [together with her servants, Mordecai and other Jews]. This is nothing cavalier. It wasn’t business as usual. If you have an important place to be, an important person to see, an important thing to discuss…. Please prepare.
- Appearance is important. When Esther was before God fasting and praying, she wore a sackcloth, rubbed dung on her herself, didn’t comb her hair, I’m sure she smelled terrible. When the time came for her to appear before King Xerxes, she came in her queenly splendour. Why? Because even crase man dey sabi market days. Some of us don’t know what “appropriate appearance” entails in terms of clothes/hygiene. No matter how good you are, no matter how great your idea is, no matter how much you deserve something, people need to first see that they’re talking to a human being. A dishevelled and smelly appearance is a turn off for anybody. Addendum: even if you’re not smelly or dishevelled, e get the kain cloth wey you no suppose wear go some kain places. Apply wisdom.
- Food is important. As King Xerxes chop Esther food, see as e begin dey promise her heaven and earth and she never even talk. King had a full blown “santi” episode. He was like – “I’ll give you anything, even if it is half of my empire”. Woah! Have you noticed that people are usually more agreeable when they’re relaxed and have eaten as opposed to the grouchy cat they’d be when they’re frazzled and hungry? Remember when you had to wait until your daddy had showered and eaten and was watching NTA News before you tell him you need money for one thing or another? Feed people sha, that’s all.
- Flattery will take you everywhere. When Esther was praying, she told God she couldn’t stand [and I quote the bible] “having sex with an uncircumcised heathen” but that she had no choice. Since she was not having sex with anybody else, I assume the uncircumcised heathen in question here was in reference to King Xerxes. She also referred to him as a “Savage Lion. This is truly how she felt about her husband; and between her and her maker she didn’t hold back on her real thoughts. Yet….. When this babe showed up in the King’s court [fainting out of sheer fear & trepidation] she told the King that his face and his majesty made her lightheaded as she thought she was seeing an angel. She said “I was overcome by your awesome majesty, you are so marvellous and your face is full of kindness”…. Omo see lyrics ooo 😂. I was like ahn ahn… aunty you can lie oo. Weren’t you just telling God that he’s a savage lion and an uncircumcised heathen and now that he’s here he has suddenly become marvelous and full of kindness? So you cannot talk with your chest? Aunty so fake! Yes? Right? Na you sabi.Some of us are too “real/blunt” for our own good. We pat ourselves for always “speaking our minds/telling it like it is”. The question is: to what end? Maybe this is why your boss hates your guts and that cushion eludes you, maybe this is why you don’t get along with your colleagues. Perhaps this is why you fight with everybody everywhere every day because of how “real” you are. This realness that you are “tighting” to your chest like say na pikin, what has it brought you if not constant wahala/stress/headache/misunderstandings? Let us learn to keep some of these our “real” thoughts & feelings to ourselves and if you can’t help yourself, tell God about it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that you should be fake or pretend, what I’m saying is we should try to always look at the big picture [as Esther did] and when you do sometimes-eventually you’ll realise that the person who signs your checks/who calls the shot/who is the decision maker on a matter of interest to you doesn’t need to know what you really think of them [except it’s flowery]. Be like Queen Esther – washing machine extraordinaire. This babe wash King so tay King no even get choice. Him belle come sweet am well well, so tay him give her blank cheque. King Xerxes didn’t even know when he was like – “what else do you want? Infact take my scroll and write whatever you want, use my signature” … and this isn’t even me being funny, it’s actually in the bible. He said all that.What am I saying? I’m saying, what does it profit a man if he “always keeps it real” without the wisdom to know when it’s [not] necessary? Apply wisdom.
- Learn to delay gratification. When Esther finally had the opportunity to plead her case and make her request, she instead chose to invite the King [plus Haman the enemy] to dinner [again… food is bae]. The King had to ask Esther 3 times and on 3 separate days before she finally pronounced her wish[es] and even then, she didn’t say ALL her requests at once. If someone came to you and asked for 5 different things at once (or even asked in a span of days for different things), would you be as open to helping or would you be like… ‘hol’ up?! Alternatively, what if they asked for one thing today and its a while before they ask again? There is a place, a way and time to make your requests and prior preparation spent seeking God’s guidance will help you know when the time is right. See, even though the situation was dire and scary, Esther was in no rush [because time is in God’s hands]. Esther never played all her cards at once. When we come to God like “I need this NOW”, it is because we have not fully grasped the faith side of things. Your fire-on-the-mountain approach to life is not on God’s timeline, so relax. The fervency and distress with which we seek for issues to be addressed can sometimes come off as desperate and nothing good happens from a place of desperation.
- Jealousy is a dangerous thing. You’ll be amazed at what jealousy can make you do. Imagine a mighty important man like Haman getting so blinded by his dislike for Mordecai that he loses common sense. At face value, Haman had everything in life – he was important, influential, rich, powerful and had King Xerxes’ attention. So it is confusing that such a man would ever even notice a peasant like Mordecai let alone get frazzled by him, but jealousy is a terrible thing that makes you do terrible things. I saw a post some time ago about how sometimes people are jealous of you simply because of how other people love/respect you and how true is that! In the book of Esther, we learn that although he was a poor peasant, Mordecai had the clout/respect/love/admiration of his people as well as even within King Xerxes’ court. So really what it is is that, even without realising it, on a spiritual level, Haman recognised the potential within Mordecai and that threatened his place/peace. Perhaps this explains why at face value, even though it appears like some of us don’t have much going on, our mere presence somehow still manages to unknowingly intimidate/threaten others and they tend to struggle with their jealousy toward us. This jealous fit singlehandedly became Haman’s undoing.
- Pride goes before a fall. Haman got proud in himself for being second in command to King Xerxes, boasting about it everywhere. He forgot that being in that position was not of his making and that things can change very quickly [and they did].Eventually Mordecai became second in rank to King Xerxes. Basically… Mordecai became everything Haman had been, plus more. Yes our achievements are things to be proud of but let’s take care not to let self-aggrandisement enter the picture.
- Snitches don’t always get stitches. Sometimes being a snitch is not a bad thing. If you had to choose between being an unwilling conspirator to a coup vs becoming the Vice President of 127 provinces….. What colour of presidential robes will you be wearing on your Inauguration Day? Side eye*
- The traps the enemy sets in wickedness will become their same own folly. Haman built a gallow thinking it’ll be used to hang Mordecai and ended up being hung on it together with his 10 sons. As a Nigerian mum will say – “you think you are doing me, but you’re just doing yourself”. Haman even went as far as setting a date on which all the Jews will be killed and destroyed. But God intervened and after Queen Esther’s encounter with King Xerxes, following the King’s new decree, the Jews fought back and wiped out their attackers. So it turned out that the exact date that had been set for their destruction became the date God turned into a day of elevation, deliverance and celebration for them. To this day, Jewish people celebrate that day in commemoration. My point? Let them build. Let them plot. Just focus on God’s promises to you.
- Sometimes your lone decisions/choices can have a boomerang effect and end up affecting not just you. Haman was hanged along with this entire family. This perhaps explains how we unknowingly inherit generational issues [curses and goodwill], even though we had nothing to do with the initial choices. Maybe today’s problem is because your father/grandfather/ancestor was a Waste-Man. On the flip side, I can’t count how many times people have been nice to me and helped me because they found out who my father was and/or who my mother is. Some parents leave goodwill for their lineage, some leave curses…. you can’t choose yours but you can take a stand today as to how it affects you and your direct lineage after you. In this journey of life, it is important to leave good crumbs along the path you’ve walked for posterity sake. If your parents didn’t leave this for you, you must at least try to leave it for your own children.
…aaaaannnnd that is the end of my story. The book of Esther is packed with lesson after lesson after lesson. The above are some of the lessons I drew out of a 6 page story today and I know for a fact that I didn’t even scratch the surface.
Do you have any lessons you’ve pulled from the story too? Or perhaps you want to expatiate on the ones I already mentioned? Please sound off in the comments box below.
Love and light xx