In the beginning of Becoming MomStrong, author Heidi St. John writes, “Mothers today need the wisdom of Solomon and the courage of Esther.” If you’re unfamiliar with The Bible, this statement won’t make sense. And I’ll be the first to affirm your fears if you don’t know who people are in Scripture – there are so many names it’s impossible to remember them all. Let’s explore these two faith giants in the Old Testament together!
SOLOMON — introduced in 1 Kings
Solomon’s father was David (you’ve probably heard of him but if not, he was the shepherd boy who killed Goliath with a sling and stone; a man after God’s own heart; and eventually became King of Israel). Solomon received great fatherly advice from King David in 1 Kings 2:1-4. Solomon also had an encounter with God (1 Kings 3:7-9) where he could ask God for anything and receive it. Can you even imagine being in that situation?!
But Solomon was human and had his imperfections. 1 Kings 11 tells about his downfall and it involved women (like, hundreds of women) and false gods (idols) to the point he preferred personal gain over spiritual maturity. Hashtag truth hurts.
Solomon was very wise and wrote several other books in The Bible, I encourage you to read them:
- Proverbs (insightful teaching applicable to us today)
- Ecclesiastes (wisdom for daily life with a sarcastic, cynical tone), and
- Song of Solomon (a love poem about God’s love for us)
Lessons from King Solomon:
- Growing in wisdom – intimacy with God – is done by reading The Word and staying in close relationship with Him.
- Blessings from God are abundant when we abide in Him, instead of relying on our own strengths and abilities.
- God must be our first love and priority. We have to trust His infinite wisdom over our own thoughts or perceptions.
- Solomon had great wisdom and fortune, but he became self-centered, self-assured, and self-reliant. He became proud and it led to his downfall, personally and for the nation of Israel. (After Solomon’s death, Israel split in two. Jeroboham took 10 tribes to the north and Rehoboham, Solomon’s son, took the remaining two tribes to the south.)
- It is more important to obey God and trust His wisdom than acquire all the riches and accolades of the world.
Esther has her own book in the Bible. It’s 10 chapters and totally worth your time reading. Ironically, God is never mentioned in Esther but He is VERY present. In addition to Esther, there are four additional key people in her story: King Xerxes, Haman (the king’s assistant), Queen Vashti, and Mordecai (Esther’s older cousin who was like an uncle, he loved and protected Esther).
Around 600 BC, Jews were persecuted and exiled to Persia, where King Xerxes and Queen Vashti ruled the land. Esther’s parents died when she was very young and Mordecai “adopted” her as his own and loved her fierce, sharing his faith in God and loyalty to country and family with her. Esther didn’t know it at the time, but Mordecai’s affection and mentorship would be very valuable. Later on, when Esther obeyed Mordecai and trusted his advice, her courage to speak at the right moment saved the entire Jewish population.
Back to the story …
Haman was King Xerxes’s right hand man and chief official, but he had a personal agenda seeking power and influence. He believed the Jews were imposing, disobedient, and good as dead.
At the time, King X was meeting with other kingdom leaders to build alliances and strengthen his army. He would drink excessive amounts of wine, host month-long parties, and, when he was feeling good from the wine, make his wife, Queen Vashti, parade around the room to impress the men. At one particular party, Queen Vashti was summoned by King X but didn’t show up, which got her kicked out of the royal court. Now, there are all kinds of conversations to be had about Queen V’s decision here but let’s focus on the matter at hand: King X is without a queen and orders the high officials, led by Haman, to find all the pretty girls in the land and bring them to the royal house. Think speed dating with six months of beauty treatments and five-star cuisine! Long story short, Esther becomes Queen of Persia and keeps her Jewish heritage a secret. WHOA, thrilling story, right?!?!
Haman (remember he’s selfish and seeking personal influence) got King X to sign a new law allowing Jews to be killed. Mordecai is devastated and mourns in the town’s square. Queen Esther, who is supposed to be summoned by the King before entering his room, gets wind of the news and BOLDLY enters the King’s chamber unannounced and uninvited. But God, who is not named here but most definitely present and working all things for His purpose, softens Xerxes heart. King X not only welcomes Esther but listens intently to her requests.
Esther decides to throw a dinner party for King X and Haman, who has been working behind the scenes plotting the death of Mordecai. During dinner, King X tells Esther she can ask for anything and it will be granted. Very courageously, Esther asks King X to save her people. She has now revealed her Jewish identity. When King X realizes Haman has ordered the death of all Jews, he writes a new law then orders Haman death. Haman didn’t just die, he died on the very gallow he had constructed for Mordecai. Esther’s COURAGE to approach the king should have been her death sentence, but instead, it saved an entire nation! Then, in good-guys-finish-first fashion, Mordecai is promoted to Haman’s position and becomes greater and more influential than Haman could have ever dreamed. Again, what Haman meant for death and destruction, God worked for the good of His people … Esther and Mordecai got to play starring roles in The Holy Story!
Have you ever faced a difficult situation? Read Esther 4:15-17.
Lessons from Esther:
- She practiced self-control and clear judgement in stressful situations.
- Her noble self-sacrifice (willing to put herself in danger) saved the Jewish people. She’s been described by theologians and academics as a rare individual with a mix of charm, strength, and guile. Esther literally looked danger in the eye … and responded courageously!
- Though physically beautiful, Esther was loyal to her people and faithful to God.
- We all have opportunities, every day, to serve God and love His people, if we are willing to look past our comfort zone and acknowledge God’s providence at work in our everyday routine.
- Be courageous and act boldly when God calls you to work on His behalf.
Now, dear reader, does having the wisdom of Solomon and courage of Esther make sense now? I hope so! I’m a total nerd when it comes to people in the Bible and learning more about them and the role they play in God’s divine story. Who would you like to know more about? Tell me in a comment below and I’ll do my due diligence to deliver in future posts!