Four Bible Queens: How Physical Beauty Helped or Hurt Them
Physical beauty opens doors, and the best doors are those that emphasize purpose along with beauty.
The stories of these four women--all Bible Queens--show that physical beauty is an asset to be nurtured and appreciated; and that it brings more benefits to the wearer when it is combined with beauty of character.
What might these women say to the beautiful women of today?
Intelligent and Beautiful
She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite (1 Samuel 25:3).
Before Abigail became the wife of a king, this portrait of brains and beauty was the wife of Nabal, a rich and foul-tempered man. She was wise and he was foolish (that being the meaning of his name). Her name means “my father’s joy,” so we wonder what gave her father joy when he approved her marriage to Nabal. Did it make him happy to have her marry a wealthy man, even though the man was a fool?
In her life with Nabal, Abigail’s wisdom and kindness benefited her more than her beauty. When her mean-spirited husband insulted King David and his men by refusing their request for food and water, Abigail appeased the king’s wrath and obtained his forgiveness.
She presented food to David, blessed him and asked to be remembered (hmmm). Not until the next day when Nabal sobered up after a drinking spree, did she tell him she had met with David. Ten days after, he died from a heart attack. David sent for her and made her one of his wives. Even he was primarily attracted by her physical beauty, it is safe to assume that her tact and kindness played a part in winning his heart.
“Tact and kindness benefited me more than my physical beauty."— Abigail
Woman of Unusual Beauty
Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath (2 Samuel 11: 2, 3 NLT).
David already had six wives who bore him children, plus others, when this incident happened. He was not looking for a wife; besides, the beautiful woman on the roof was Bathsheba a married woman, whose husband was a soldier in David’s army. He inquired about her, so he knew who she was when he sent for her.
Did Bathsheba anticipate the king looking down to her rooftop through the lattice in the palace window above? Did she and the king play this game before? Was either of them motivated by the fact that Uriah was away on the battlefield? People speculate about who seduced whom, but our main concern here is whether or not her beauty was an asset.
If she intentionally set out to seduce David, she acted irresponsibly like the woman who says, “I can’t help it if I’m beautiful, and men are attracted to me.” The result in this case was an unwanted pregnancy and the untimely death of a husband and soldier. (David had Uriah killed so he could have Bathsheba, but he repented later.)
If Bathsheba was taken against her will, and forced into adultery with the king, we would have to conclude that her beauty was clearly a disadvantage. Their love child died. Later, Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon who became king with the help of his mother's political wrestling maneuvering.
What a positively powerful story the Queen Mother would have had to tell if the story of her beauty did not have adultery and murder attached to it? Who knows how else she might have become queen?
“Beauty is a treasure to be protected; not a toy to be played with."— Bathsheba
Lovely to Look At
On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him . . . to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at (Esther 1:10,11).
King Ahasuerus of Persia held a celebration for his military leaders, nobles and supporters. It was a display of wealth and splendor. During the final day of a seven-day banquet, the king in his drunken stupor requested a new display for his guests to admire: the beautiful Queen Vashti. She refused to comply. The king was embarrassed; and fearing that other women would imitate the queen’s insubordination, his advisers convinced him to replace her with someone better.
Vashti was hurt, not by her beauty, but by the king’s attempt to trivialize it. He aimed to make her an object equal in value to the palace furniture and furnishings. She was not the fearful, subservient kind of woman who would be obedient at the cost of disrespecting herself. She refused to participate in her own abuse.
“Regardless of what else you lose, don't lose the beauty of self-respect."— Vashti
Lovely figure and . . . Beautiful
This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful . . . And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her (Esther 2:7, 15).
Among the beautiful women gathered in the search for a queen to replace Vashti, was a Jewish girl named Hadassah (meaning myrtle) whose Persian name was Esther. She had been adopted by her cousin Mordecai who raised her to be self-confident. Hegai, who was in charge of the candidates favored Esther and “immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food."
When Esther’s turn came to spend time with King Ahasuerus, he “was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti” (2:17).
Esther’s physical beauty helped her win her royal position, but it was her beauty of character that kept her on the throne. Her obedience to the principles that Mordecai taught her, and her loyalty to her faith motivated her to become involved in the struggles of her Jewish people. She fasted with them in their time of crisis.
The beauty of Esther's femininity and grace was not lost on the king. She became a prominent figure in her nation’s history.
“Physical beauty may gain the king's attention, but beauty of character will make you the queen"— Esther
Poll on the Most Admired
Which one of these beautiful women do you admire most?
Poll on Other Beautiful Women
Which of these beautiful women have you heard the most about?
Which of these beautiful women have you heard the least about?
What pysical features do you admire the most?
© 2011 Dora Weithers