Last week, I wrote about a glorious king named Ahasuerus. A king who threw himself a party for 180 days, only to follow it with an after-party lasting seven days. And what happened on that seventh day is where I want to begin this week.
The Bible reads, “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at” (Esth. 1:10-11 ESV).
It’s a drunken demand from a selfish king. Ahasuerus commands his men to bring his wife before them. Why? Because they want to stare at her incredible beauty. As Iain Duguid writes, “To command his wife to appear dressed up in her royal finery for the enjoyment of a crowd of drunken men was to treat her as a doll, a mere object who existed for the king’s pleasure, and to show off his power—a ‘trophy wife,’ in contemporary jargon.”
In other words, King Ahasuerus further reveals his evil heart as he summons his wife before a crowd of drunken men for their sexual pleasure and pride.
“But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him” (v. 12 ESV).
Although a reason is not given for Vashti’s defiance, we can understand her refusal given the context. Regardless of her motive, the king’s obsession with power and control is easily seen in this passage. And Vashti’s refusal to come before him angers him greatly. In fact, it causes his whole kingdom to shake.
This blow to the king’s pride causes him to make some dumb decisions. And those decisions make him look like a weak fool.
In verses 13 through 15, the king looks to his “wise men” for advice on how to punish Vashti “according to the law.” In other words, he is so timid that he seeks to use the law to hide his image. I mean, this is his wife we’re talking about!
Verses 16 through 20 provide the response of the wise men given by a guy named
Memucan. And the general consensus is that if nothing is done to Vashti, then “all women” will “look at their husbands with contempt.” Memucan says, “‘If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike’” (v. 19-20 ESV).
Duguid explains, “The edict deconstructs itself, serving merely to publicize throughout the vast empire and in the language of every people group Ahasuerus’s lack of authority in his own household.”
Landon Dowden agrees, “In worrying that word would get out to all the realm regarding the queen’s actions, the king and his most trusted ones would actually be the cause of it.”
However, as verses 21 and 22 explain, King Ahasuerus accepts Memucan’s advice.
And so, where is God in all of this? Where is Esther in all of this? I mean, this is a book of the Bible, right?
God is working behind the scenes. Through Ahasuerus’s wickedness and Vashti’s defiance. To place a crown on Esther and save His people from destruction. It’s God’s divine plan at work. And no man can thwart His perfect plan. Christ is a better King. A better husband towards His bride, the Church (see Eph. 5:25-27).
Maybe you feel like God is silent in your life today. You don’t see Him. You don’t feel Him. But can I tell you that God is working through the most mundane and foolish events and circumstances of your life? God is working to fulfill His promises. Both for His glory and your good. Because He is sovereign in the silence.
Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at www.isaiahpauley.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.