Here are 4 rules (principles) from the book of Esther that can help women in their relationships with men.
1. Learn About Men from Other Men, Not Your Female Peers
Before Esther became queen, Vashti was queen. When the king asked her to come to him, she rejected him; so the king banished her. When the king was looking for a new wife, woman after woman came to him to try to please him. But only Esther found his favor.
One of the key differences between Esther and the many other women was that she listened to the men in her life when they taught her about other men rather than following the example of her peers. First, she was brought up by a man, Mordecai. He was a relative that took her as his own daughter once her own father and mother died (Esther 2:5). In Esther 2:20 it states, “. . . for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him.”
Next, once Esther came into the king’s harem, she listened closely to the advice of Hegai, the king’s eunuch who took care of the women (Esther 2:8-9). When the women would go to the king, they were allowed to take whatever they wanted. When it was Esther’s turn, Esther 2:15 states, “. . . she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised.”
The pull for all humans is to follow our peers. However, when it comes to relationships, this is a very bad idea for men and women. Most women give advice about men out of their own woundedness and not out of biblical wisdom. While listening to older women who have successful marriages is wise (Titus 2:3-4), it is unwise to listen to women who don’t have what you want.
Like Esther, if you really want to know about men, the best thing you can do is listen to what other good men are saying. Just as you know about women in a way that most men do not, men know about men in ways that women do not.
2. Always Rely on God and Not Any Man
While Esther showed a lot of wisdom and humility by listening to the men in her life, it’s also important to highlight that she was not a mindless drone doing whatever the men said.
For example, once Haman tricked the king into making an order to kill all the Jews, Mordecai came to Esther and urged her to approach the king. While she did listen to Mordecai, she also said:
‘Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.’ Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.” (Esther 4:16-17)
Now it was Mordecai who was listening to Esther. This is a great example of how a woman can respect the male leadership in her life while also not losing the authority she has over herself. Esther was going to risk her life, and it was her choice. So she told Mordecai what to do when it came to her own choice to risk her life.
She told him to appeal to God for her and she did all that she could to appeal to God for herself. She was going to the king, but she knew the ultimate deciding factor in this situation was not the king but God himself. Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”
Likewise, never forget who is in control of your relationship destiny. God always has the ultimate say; therefore, you must always appeal to God and follow him most of all.
3. It’s Better to Come Uninvited to a Man Rather Than Not Come When Invited
When you read the whole book of Esther, there is an ironic contrast between Vashti and Esther. The drama in the beginning of the book occurs because Vashti didn’t come to the king when invited (Esther 1:10-22). However, the drama at the end of the book occurs because Esther needs to go to the king when she was not invited (Esther 4:16).
There were rules about seeing the king. If he told you to come and you didn’t, this was direct defiance and resulted in the king’s wrath (Esther 1:19). If you came to the king uninvited, you would be killed unless the king held out his golden scepter to you (Esther 4:11).
Both of these actions were dangerous. However, as a woman loved by the king, clearly it was better to come to the king even if he didn’t invite you compared to refusing the king when he did invite you.
When you apply this relationship principle to your own interactions with men, we can say that it is better to encourage the man’s pursuit too much compared to encouraging him too little. We all want to be perfect in our relationship timing, but that rarely happens. If you are going to error with a man, error on the side of revealing too much of your feelings rather than too little.
While most Christian women are extremely concerned with guarding their hearts (Proverbs 4:23), far too little are concerned with revealing their hearts at the proper time (Song of Solomon 8:4). Some stay guarded forever and thus never find true love with a man.
When the Song of Solomon says “not to awaken love until it so desires,” people often apply this to delaying love to stay emotionally safe. However, this verse also implies there will come a time when love is ready to awaken. To stall that love is just as damaging as it would be to rush that love.
Remember that a man is the one who pursues and thus risks rejection. If he senses no interest from you or not enough interest once he does pursue, he may never pursue again. You have to play your part too, otherwise he will feel like the relationship is only one-sided and then lose interest in you because we all want to be loved in a mutual way.
Be more like Esther rather than Vashti.
4. Submit to God’s Timing and Wait for Him to Do What Only He Can Do in Relationships
As we just talked about, you have to be careful and thoughtful as you interact with the man you are interested in. However, true love really is in the hands of God. Throughout the book of Esther, there is a strong emphasis on God’s divine timing.
When Mordecai is counseling Esther to help the Jews, he says, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
When Haman was trying to kill Mordecai, God wouldn’t let the king sleep. He just so happened to pull out the book of memorable deeds and he was reminded of how Mordecai exposed a plot against the king’s life. Just as Haman was planning to kill Mordecai, the king ordered Haman to honor Mordecai (Esther 6:1-11).
Additionally, Haman had just built gallows for Mordecai. Once Esther exposed Haman as the enemy of the Jews, the king ordered Haman to be hanged on the very gallows he just made for Mordecai (Esther 7:9-10).
God is in control of the timing (Psalm 31:15, Esther 9:22).
When it comes to relationships, you have to apply this principle. When the door is closed, don’t try to force it open. When the door is open, don’t refuse to walk through it. Don’t act when you sense God telling to be still and do act when you do sense God telling you to move forward.
Here’s a playlist of videos on a series I did through the book of Ruth: A Bible Study Through Ruth on Relationships
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