All that glitters…
My King, thank You that though You are above all, You use Your power to love and serve.
Read ESTHER 1:1–22
 This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush:  At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa,  and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.  For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty.  When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa.  The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones.  Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality.  By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.  Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.  On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him-Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas-  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.  But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.  Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times  and were closest to the king-Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.  “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”  Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes.  For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’  This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.  “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.  Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”  The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed.  He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow did Vashti respond to the king’s request?
He’d got it all! Fabulous wealth, a beautiful wife, riches beyond imagination, adoring servants and subjects… King Xerxes was powerful. But these verses also reveal a proud, weak, self-centered, foolish show-off. His tantrum (12,15) would end in tears—and not just Vashti’s! This adoration of wealth and celebrity is familiar in our society too. Is it just other people who get caught up in this? Vashti might have been queen, living in luxury and honored by all. Yet, in reality, she was little more than an object, one more beautiful possession for the king to show off (10,11). We might cheer as Vashti refuses to be paraded before the king’s drunken male guests (7,8,12). Her understandable but high-risk (16,17) stance could have made King Xerxes a laughingstock. His weak compliance with his guests results in disaster for Vashti (19)—and potentially all other women (20,22). But, in the big story of the Bible, this episode opens up the way for Esther to come to power (19). With grace and beauty, she would show courage and strength in a different way from Vashti’s. God was at work and Esther was ready to cooperate with him.
Do an intentional act of service, but do it in a way that will not be recognized by anyone of “importance.”
Lord God, You are my King. Help me to put down selfish ambition and seek to serve and exalt You.