Monday, December 10, 2012

Esther: A Prideful King and A Yes Man

Esther: A Prideful King and A Yes Man

But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him.” – Esther 1:12
[Today we begin an old-fashioned Bible study of one of my favorite books of the Bible, Esther.  The book of Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not mention God.  Yet, God found it to be relevant to bringing Him glory.  The book is rich in wisdom as we will see in this study.]

Picture being at this party. You’re sitting on a beautiful chaise made of pure gold and the finest silver.  You look down to the floor and see the mosaic pattern created in the floors, which are made of white alabaster stone, ocean blue turquoise, and black and white veined marble.  As you look around you notice heavy curtains of white, blue, and purple that hang on pure silver rods.  Marble pillars are throughout the area.  You can see the royal garden from your seat, well cared for, and in bloom.  A waiter comes by and offers you wine in a golden glass and you notice that each on the serving tray is uniquely different from the others.
Yes, you are at a royal feast like none you’ve seen before in the land of Persia.  All the riches of the land of King Ahasuerus have been put on display.  The king rules over 127 different provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia.  His power was mighty, and as you look around the room at the other men present you notice many high ranking officials of the Persian and Medes government of the day.  This party, having already gone on for 180 days, had not exhausted the riches of the King’s household.  And this feast, with extravagant food and drink, was now in its seventh day.      

To further show the greatness of the royal kingdom, Queen Vashti was holding her own party for the women.  It was the custom to not have the men and women eat together, so she gathered the ladies together in the royal palace.
King Ahasuerus had much to be grateful for, and it filled his heart with pride.  But no one expected what he would ask of Queen Vashti.  Sending seven eunuchs to fetch her, He requested she come before the men at his royal party wearing her royal crown and show her beauty to the men gathered there.

This was against the law of Persia.  Wives, especially queens, were to be kept out of the view of other men.  They weren’t to be treated as property put on display, or made to become spectacles of lust.  Yet, the King, in all his pride, sent for Vashti.

To make matters worse, if we go back to the original Hebrew scriptures of the Targum, we see that he requested she come before them naked, wearing ONLY her crown.

Imagine, ladies, that your husband treated you with this disrespect.  Imagine him asking you to come before his party so that his friends could stare at your beauty and judge your outward appearance as they would a new car, or a fine race horse.  This was disrespectful, as well as illegal in the day.  Queen Vashti refused.

As would be expected, when a man filled with pride doesn’t get his way, he throws a fit!  Esther 1:12 says “the king was furious, and his anger burned within him.  Also as expected, since he is in authority, there will be many ‘yes men’ to encourage his poor behavior, and even offering him counsel as to how the matter should be handled. 
The King rises as speaks of himself in first person to further note his position and says “What shall we do to Queen Vashti, according to law, because she did not obey the command of King Ahasuerus brought to her by the eunuchs?”

Memucan, one of the high ranking officials of Persia, spoke up, and said “Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the queen’s behavior will become known to all women, so that they will despise their husbands in their eyes, when they report, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come.’  This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media will say to all the king’s officials that they have heard of the behavior of the queen. Thus there will be excessive contempt and wrath.  If it pleases the king, let a royal decree go out from him, and let it be recorded in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not be altered, that Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.  When the king’s decree which he will make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is great), all wives will honor their husbands, both great and small.”
Be careful when you are placed in a position of power that you create around you a counsel of god-fearing men and women who will choose to please God before they please you.  King Ahasuerus in all his glory was missing one mighty element to his riches – godly counsel.  Rather than Memucan explaining to the King the wrongfulness in his request of Queen Vashti, he choose to make the situation even worse by assuming that all wives would riot against their husbands because the Queen did not obey her King.  King Ahasuerus dethroned and divorced Queen Vashti, and began the search for a new Queen.  How greatly Memucan could have affected the history of Persia had he given sound advice!

Psalms 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”  It bears to reason that if good counsel brings prosperity, that poor counsel can deter it.  Seek answers from God first, and His Holy Word.  Make Him your chief counselor, and you will be blessed. 

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