For Esther, it was now or never. She could try to hide from the impending doom facing the Jews, or she could dare to speak out to her husband the king. Perhaps she would save her people; perhaps she would die. After three days of fasting and praying she put on her royal robes and went to the throne room (Esther 5: 1).
Josephus elaborates on the story with these details: “Although her face was covered with blushing,” Esther adorned herself “with a sweet and dignified beauty” and entered the royal court. The king not only looked on Esther with favor, he “leaped from his throne and raised her in his arms . . . embracing her and speaking to her endearingly” (Antiquities, XI, 234-237).
In the blushing nobility of Esther we encounter the word semnos (sem NOSS), which means “noble” or “dignified.” In classical Greek semnos was used by a variety of writers to describe such things as a “majestic” throne, a “heroic and noble” demeanor, “splendid” clothing, “stately” music, and “eloquent” poetry. In an especially appropriate passage Plutarch advises young brides that a woman is not adorned because she wears gold or jewelry or scarlet, but because she carries herself with “dignity.”
In the New Testament we are told to think about whatever is true, whatever is “noble,” etc. (Philippians 4:8). As we contemplate “noble” things of beauty such as fine music and poetry, and. are inspired by thinking of the courage of “heroic and noble” men, let us not forget the blushing nobility of Esther—the woman who saved her people. The image of a young lady “of noble rank” can draw us closer to God and give us peace.
So, as we learn to fill our minds with thoughts of things admirable and excellent and praiseworthy, let’s also find ourselves something noble. Then, let’s think. And smile.