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An Unusual Competition

Esther 1; 2; Prophets and Kings, pp. 598–601


The Message

God can use my life to influence others for good.

Memory Verse

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Have you ever entered a competition? Did you win? Today’s story is about a beauty competition with a very special prize. It may have happened like this:


Cousin Mordecai,” said Esther, “did you hear? King Xerxes is sending his men to bring unmarried girls to the palace. He’s looking for a new queen.”

“I heard,” said Esther’s cousin Mordecai. “But he’s not sending for all the unmarried girls. Just the pretty ones. I’m sure you’ll be chosen.” He smiled.

“Oh, Cousin Mordecai,” said Esther, “I can’t leave you. You’ve taken such good care of me since my parents died.”

“Don’t worry about me, Esther,” said Cousin Mordecai. “It will be a good opportunity for you. Remember everything that I’ve taught you. But no matter what happens, don’t let anyone know you are a Jew or that you are my cousin.”

“But why, Cousin Mordecai?” asked Esther, looking puzzled.

“Because this is not our home. We are Hebrews. Although our people have lived in Persia for a long time, a lot of people don’t like us. They want to get rid of us,” said Cousin Mordecai quietly. “I will do as you say,” Esther nodded. “Don’t look so sad, Esther,” said Cousin Mordecai. “A lot of other beautiful girls will be at the palace. But remember, beauty is as beauty does. Be kind to everyone. That’s the best kind of beauty.”

When Esther was taken to King Xerxes’ palace, she remembered what her cousin Mordecai had told her. There were a lot of beautiful girls at the palace. Some of them were not very nice. But Esther was kind to everyone.

The king’s helper, Hegai, noticed Esther. Hegai noticed Esther’s kindness to others. He quickly chose her to begin beauty treatments. He also gave her special food. Then he gave her seven servant girls and moved them all to the best part of the women’s quarters.

For a whole year Esther received beauty treatments at the palace. She was bathed, oiled, and perfumed every day.

The beauticians fixed her hair. The designers made new clothes and shoes for her. Hegai gave her anything she asked for.

Meanwhile, Esther’s cousin Mordecai walked back and forth near her rooms every day. He couldn’t talk to Esther. And she couldn’t talk to him. But they could see each other from far away. Cousin Mordecai wanted to make sure she was all right. But he didn’t want anyone to know that they were related. If they did, they would know Esther was a Jew.

One day Hegai came to Esther, smiling. “Esther,” he said, “the king wants to see you.”

“Really? What shall I do?” asked Esther.

“Just be yourself,” said Hegai, smiling.

“I’m so nervous,” said Esther excitedly. “I can’t even think right now.”

“Esther, don’t worry,” said Hegai. “I think the palace people and the king are really going to like you.”

Hegai was right. Everyone liked Esther, especially the king. He liked Esther more than any of the other young women he had seen. So he made her his queen.