6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: In this sermon, we consider the part of the story of Esther where she enters the contest and wins the kings heart and the crown. For application, we wrestle with the questions: Where were the parents and was Esther always godly?


A. The story is told of a man who after being away on a business trip, thought it would be nice to bring a little gift home to his wife.

1. The man went into a store and asked the clerk, “Can you recommend some perfume as a gift for my wife?”

2. The clerk showed him a bottle of perfume costing $50.00.

3. “That's more than I wanted to spend,” said the man, so the clerk returned with a smaller bottle for $30.00.

4. The man complained, “That's still quite a bit.”

5. Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny, tiny $15.00 bottle.

6. “What I mean,” said the man, “is I'd like to see something really, really cheap.”

7. So the clerk handed him a mirror.

B. Some people are really cheap when it comes to their spending on perfume and cosmetics, but not so for everyone.

1. Last year the beauty, cosmetics and fragrance companies reported 13 billion dollars of sales in the United States.

2. That 13 billion is divided up among the 314 million people who live in the U.S.

3. I wouldn’t be surprised if something comparable to 13 billion dollars was spent for the one year supply of beauty treatments that were given to the women who had been chosen for the Miss Persia contest we learned about last week in our story from the Book of Esther.

C. Today, as we return to our story of Esther, you will remember that last week we learned that Esther had been chosen to be part of the Miss Persia contest.

1. Rather than calling it the Miss Persia contest, we might call it “The Bachelor, Persia Edition.”

2. All of you have heard of the modern reality show called The Bachelor and some of you are aware of the way The Bachelor works.

3. The Bachelor is an American television dating game show that debuted in 2002 on ABC.

a. They just finished season 17!

b. The series revolves around a single, eligible, handsome bachelor and a pool of beautiful eligible woman (typically 25in a season).

c. Early in the season, the bachelor goes on large group dates with the women, and eliminates those whom he is not interested in.

d. As the season progresses, women are also eliminated on one-on-one dates and on two-on-one dates.

e. The process culminates with the final 3 women going on overnight dates to exotic locations, should they choose to accept.

f. In many cases, the bachelor proposes to his final selection, but as of the end of season 17, none of the bachelors has married the woman to whom he presented the final rose.

4. The contest we read about in Esther 2 last week is not that different from this modern TV reality show.

5. Look again at 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.

6. The Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us there were as many as 400 women involved in this remarkable competition.

7. Each of the women were given a year in which to polish their seductive arts, to enhance their beauty by pampering their bodies, and applying the art of costume and cosmetics.

8. Then each of them would be given one night with the king to show off their elegance, charm, beauty and seduction, and then the king would make his choice; just like the bachelor.

D. So let’s return to our story of Esther and see what happens to Esther and what lessons we can apply to our lives.

I. The Story

A. Look again at Esther 2:8: When the king's order and edict had been proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.

1. Notice that it says that “Esther also was taken to the king’s palace.”

2. I’m intrigued by the verb “taken” and its’ passive tense.

a. The verb can mean “taken by force” and some Jewish scholars give that interpretation.

b. I don’t know if there was coercion involved; we’re not told that Esther was “forced” to go.

3. But I think it would be fair to say that there must have been reluctance on her part.

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