“15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favour of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.”NIV

Reading through these verses my mind went to Joseph who found ‘’favour’’ amid unfavourable circumstances in Egypt. It was the same for Esther, who centuries later was among the Jewish exiles in a foreign country. Both Joseph and Esther found themselves as ‘missionaries’ in an alien culture, finding ‘’favour’’ with people when necessary because God’s favour rested on them. Note the repeated phrase: ‘’won the favour’’ (15. It is almost identical in 17.See also Luke 2:52).

‘Those that make sure of God’s favour shall find favour with man too as far as it is good for them.’ Matthew Henry.

As I have said previously, if Xerxes had been told of Esther’s nationality, she would not have had a look in. But he didn’t know, and Esther’s loveliness won him over. He liked her so much that he immediately chose her to be queen in place of Vashti. (This was the seventh year of his reign – four years after he deposed Vashti).

Clearly, Esther was physically attractive. But as we meet her in the pages of this book we become aware of encountering a beautiful soul. She was lovely inside and out. Reading verse 15 I was impressed with the thought that she was a contented person. ‘’But godliness with contentment is great gain’’ (1 Timothy 6:6).

The appointment of the new queen ushered in such a joyous season, and ‘’the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet…’’ (18). There was a feast, a holiday and generous gift-giving. It was beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Christmas!

I couldn’t help but think that our King distributes His gifts with a ‘’royal liberality’’ far exceeding that of king Xerxes (18), and His greatest gift is that of His Son; indeed it is that of Himself.

‘’Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ (2 Corinthians 9:15).