Affront to Honor
Lord Jesus Christ, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, You live and reign forever. Thanks be to God.
Read Esther 1:1-22
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.
Are you ever tempted to push too hard to receive recognition or spin a story to protect your own interests? Remember, you are just a servant of a humble King (Phil. 2:5-7; Gal. 1:10).
Sometimes it’s appropriate proudly to show off something special, but King Xerxes’s extravaganza seems rather over the top! The son of Darius I and grandson of Cyrus (2 Chron. 36:22-23), Xerxes had inherited an extensive Persian empire. He ruled, partially from his winter capital Susa, east of Babylon, from 486 to 465 B.C. Early in his reign, he demonstrated his significant influence by inviting all his district leaders to join him in a lengthy and lavish exhibition of his wealth and grandeur–including the most expansive of many feasts recorded in this book. This was followed by a seven-day banquet for members of the Susa community, displaying his opulent generosity.
Xerxes’s craving for honor should have been satisfied, but with one final, drunken gesture, he overstepped the mark. He commanded his beautiful queen Vashti to leave her banquet to be a royal exhibit at his, and she refused. He had power over his kingdom but not over his wife! Xerxes responded to this public affront with extreme anger, then discussion with his advisors about a suitable response to her public disobedience. What could have remained a domestic matter was made an example for the whole kingdom–other wives might follow her example and disrespect their husbands too! Vashti was permanently removed from her role and the public spin given to the story reinforced the king’s authority and upheld his personal honor.
One wonders if Xerxes would have made the same inappropriate demands on his wife or given the same angry response if he had not been drunk (10). However, although Esther’s opening chapter introduces Xerxes’s prestige, pride and personal weaknesses, its primary purpose is to set the scene for the unexpected and providential accession of Esther to the position of Xerxes’s queen.
With which of the characters mentioned in this chapter do you most identify? Why?
Father God, You are Lord of all. I return my grateful thanks for all You have provided for me.
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