Some actions in Esther chapter one came about under the influence of emotion and stress (seldom in anyone’s best interests), yet later details reveal how an unsettling event formed a platform on which God would work.
King Ahasuerus – also known as Xerxes, had held drinking parties for 6 months, inviting waves of influential people for party after party, then invited the commoners, “And when these days were over, the king made for all the people present in Shushan the capital, for [everyone] both great and small, a banquet for seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s orchard.”
After six months and seven days of drinking, Xerxes decided to show off the beauty of his wife, Queen Vashti (who, unlike Xerxes, was from a royal family and could have possibly felt she deserved the crown more than he). Despite his demand she leave her party with the women of the royal house, despite his sending the seven chamberlains (personal valets or attendants) to bring her, Vashti refused to come. I wonder what I’d have done if I were queen.
Whether angry, defiant, or insulted to be paraded about, Vashti’s refusal was a great embarrassment to Xerxes, and the king, not known to be merciful, was hot with rage. Xerxes turned toward the closest group of advisors and asked what the law allowed him to do.
Apparently law could be made on the spot, and ironically the advisors appealed to Xerxes’ ego and declared that each man of the kingdom do what the king could not – dominate – rule – control his wife. Instead of resolving anything, Ahasuerus spread relational discord throughout the empire, and once he sobered up, thought about the consequences of his rash action. Vashti’s response resulted in banishment with total loss of status. Both actions were choices, or reactions, to circumstances and emotion.
Xerxes’ emotional banishment of Vashti, though created by the enemy and based on lies, created a platform for God to work His great purpose through Estherr. Just as we, in America, keep our eyes on Washington, knowing its edicts can impact and change lives in an instant, so Xerxes’ kingdom must have watched the Persian palace with fear and trembling. In the middle of such an ego and power-driven situation it would be easy to fear.
Instead we learn not to trust the emotional turmoil that arises at such a time, but to calmly and confidently ask, “What is the truth, here?” Truth is that God is sovereign over all principalities and powers – from earth to air.
We need to look beyond circumstances and beyond trust or fear of lawmakers, relying as Esther did, on the truth of God’s Word for present rescue and future hope.