SETTING THE SCENE. Derived from the Persian word for star, Esther is an ordinary person used in extraordinary circumstances, events which unfold and progress as the lives of individuals intersect. The story is a metaphor displaying God’s providence and faithfulness to care for and deliver His people – through people who dare to listen and obey. Ironically, God is not mentioned in this story; however, Esther’s cousin Moradecai demonstrates a devout understanding of what it means to reverence God, to obey His laws, and to be Jewish . If you are thinking, “God could/would never use me.” Think again, for who would have guessed an orphaned girl, grown to womanhood, could be plucked from her comfort zone to become a vessel God used to save a nation? Truly, God works in mysterious ways.
Grab your Bible, turn to the book of Esther, find a cozy place to read, reflect and consider how God can use your life as your heart is set on Him.
Picture this: surrounded in finery – cords of linen and purple, marble pillars, gold couches, mosaic pavement, silver in white marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones, attendance at a no limit, all-you-can-eat (and drink) buffet, complete with golden goblets.
This is the stage in the third year of King Xerxes’ reign of Susa [the capital of the Persian Empire]. The king decides to host a 180-day feast (can you imagine?) for his princes and officials. Of course, the feast is self-serving, providing a stage for the king to brag about and display his riches. And if this party wasn’t enough, when it ended, he held another week-long gathering for those who were present in the capital.
At the same time, in different spaces, Queen Vashti is busy hosting a banquet for the women. In the flurry of the king’s party, on the seventh day, when he was quite happy with wine, King Xerxes issued a command to bring the queen to him with her royal crown so he could show everyone his beautiful catch. But…guess what? Queen Vashti refused. (Can’t you just hear the da-da-da-da da-da-da-da?) With her refusal, Queen Vashti sets in motion a series of incredible events, though at the time, she no doubt, had no idea her decision would garner such impact. Choices matter. We don’t always chose optimally, but as you will see in this story, our decisions intersect with the lives, emotions, and wills of others, sometimes with life-altering consequences.
So what does King Xerxes do? Angry, shunned, embarrassed, he asks for advice. Now, remembering the context, that the king (had just been) quite happy with wine, what state do you think he was in? His advisors? Do you think his emotional state warranted sound advice? Do you think he was capable of receiving sound advice? Can you relate? Have you ever been so frustrated, angry, you didn’t know what to do? Did you ask for advice – in that state? What was the outcome?
The king’s advisors jumped to support him (after all, they were his advisors…do you think there could have been any political consequences if they had not jumped to answer the king?). What if at least one of the advisors had said, “You know, King, we’ve all had a good time, perhaps too much to drink, maybe Queen Vashti is tired. Let’s not make any rash decisions?” Instead, though, the advisors were quick to point out that not only had the queen wronged the king, but she had also set an example to others within the kingdom, “For this deed of the queen will become known to all women, making their husbands contemptible in their eyes. . . (Esther, 1:16, Amplified).
So what did the advisors’ advise? “Divorce her, pick another queen.” And the king wasted no time taking counsel, “This advice pleased the king so he sent letters to all the provinces, advising that every man should rule in his own house and speak the language of his own people.”
However, note that after the king had “fully contemplated what he had done” (perhaps sobered up), he “rather regretted what he had decreed.” Has this ever happened in your life, through you or to you? Perhaps (and this is only my conjecture), the advisors were afraid the king would blame them for carrying out the decree, so here they come again, with yet more advice, “Gather all the young, beautiful virgins of the kingdom and choose from among them one who pleases you the most, she will be the new queen in Vashti’s place. Again, this advice pleased the king.”
THOUGHTS TO PONDER….
Have you ever made a decision when angry and later regretted it? What was the effect?
Did your decision impact anyone else?
How much a part did emotions play in the king’s actions? How much do emotions play a part in your decision-making?
What do you think the king found so appealing about the advice given to him?
Do you think the king would have made such a decree if he had taken some time to “cool off” first?