The movies are equally unanimous as to the moment of high drama: Esther and her unsolicited visit to King Xerxes. She stands at the throne room entryway, robed in elegance. The camera can hardly bear to turn away from her splendor. When it does, we see Xerxes wide-eyed with mouth open. “What can I do for you, my beauty?”
The implied message of the movies is clear: the good looks of Esther softened and swayed the hard heart of Xerxes.
Yet Scripture tells a different story. Yes, she appeared before the king. Yes, she did so at great risk. And, yes, Xerxes lowered his scepter and invited her to enter. But it wasn’t her beauty that made the difference.
Look at the text, and see if you agree.
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Est. 4:15–16 NIV)
Esther faced an immovable wall and the possibility of death for making the wrong move. She responded, not with a call to her hair stylist, but with a retreat into the prayer chamber. Rather than rush into the throne room of Xerxes, she humbled herself and stepped into the throne room of God.
In the movie I wish someone would make, Esther crumbles into a heap, face-first on the floor of her bedroom. Her nation is about to be led to slaughter. It’s going to be a bloodbath, and she sleeps with the king who ordered it. Her handmaids see her fall to the ground and rush to her aid. She waves them away. “Just get word to Mordecai: I’ll go to see the king. Even if it costs me my life. Tell everyone to pray.”