In the days of Esther and Mordecai the Persian Empire was the power to be reckoned with in the Middle East. The man at the head of that empire was called Ahasuerus. To have access to him was the dream of those who were hungry for power. This book tells us the story of how a Hebrew maiden gained an unexpected proximity to the king, and how she took courage at a key moment in her life to save her people, the Jews, from their enemies.
The story begins with the pomp and glory of men. The king had spent half a year displaying his greatness to his subjects. He then decided to add seven days of feasting to cap off these festivities. But when the king called the queen into his presence to show off her beauty before his leading men, she refused him.
It was this insubordination that led to an opportunity for Esther, a story which is contained in the second chapter of this book. Queen Vashti would lose her position according to a plan that came from the king’s advisers. Another woman would be chosen to take her place.
This rejection of the king’s command was seen as a great affront to the king and as a destabilizing example that could cause problems throughout Persian society. “For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’”
Their advice to the king was plain: Vashti must never again be allowed into the king’s presence. Her royal position would go to a more worthy woman. The king’s irreversible decree would become famous throughout the land and domestic order would be restored among the families of Persia.
Who can understand the providence of the Lord as we are living it out in our own lives? Without the king’s pride and without the queen’s obstinate refusal, Esther would not have had a way into the presence of the king when her voice would be needed to save the Jews.
Domestic order is a great blessing, but will it finally be achieved through the decrees of the world’s most powerful men? Even if a very frightening ruler might be able to insist that all of his subjects give him immediate obedience, can that king regulate the secret motions of every heart within his empire?
God will bring about a new world of perfect order far beyond the borders of the Middle East. He is able to bring forth the fullness of both outer and inner submission among even the most obstinate of His creatures. He began this great enterprise by sending His Son to be our Husband. Our great King has shown His love for us by His sacrificial death. When He calls us we are more than happy to respond, not only because He is our Lord, but especially because we love Him who loved us first and best. We want to be with Him all the time. We have received His love for us and it is our highest privilege to respond to His tender entreaties with joyful attention to His Word.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Majestic King, You are greater than all the rulers of the earth. You have provided us with such riches from Your royal glory even in this current age. What wonders will there be when we go to be with Your Son? How great will the blessings be in the coming age of resurrection? Every command that You give to Your subjects is completely good. It is right for us to obey You immediately and with the greatest joy. Yet we have done great wrong against You and against all lawful authority. Please forgive us. We pray that we will not bring any more trouble upon those around us because of our former days of rebellion. We pray that You would break the chains of evil that may ensnare us from the wickedness of generations now in the grave. Please teach us to happily give honor to those who are due honor. Lawlessness can never be the answer for us, for we have committed our lives to You.