Bible Survey on Esther – Lesson 1

Esther is about showing the providence of God.  It shows Him using His almighty power in both the circumstances of life and Him using His power in and thru the lives of people.

Esther not only saved the Jews, but her being married to the king of the empire gave the Jews some position after they defended themselves.  And it would seem that Esther had a very positive influence upon her stepson who became king after Ahasauerus died.

It is Esther’s stepson who will give Nehemiah permission to go build the wall.

Esther played an important role in the coming of Jesus and that affected millions of people.

To this very day, the Jews hold the feast of Purim to remember and celebrate what happened in the book of Esther.

God’s name will not be mentioned in the book of Esther.  Not even once.

However, we see His hand in the entire book.  Esther came soon enough to save the Jews but she was late enough to still have an influence upon her stepson.  She came after the rebuilding of the temple but before the building of the wall.

Esther had a part in paving the way for the work of Nehemiah and Ezra.  God arranged the timing of it all.  God arranged for the proper people to be where they were when they were to be there.  God was working thru it all.

Est 1:1  Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) 

Est 1:2  That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, 

Est 1:3  In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: 

Est 1:4  When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days. 

Est 1:5  And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace; 

Est 1:6  Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. 

Est 1:7  And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. 

Est 1:8  And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure. 

The new king is solidifying his position by showing off his power and riches during this feast as well as preparing the empire for his campaign against Greece.

The king will end up doing some good things before the story is over.  However, it is important to remember he is not a saved man.  He is going to war with Greece because he can.  His empire is already huge, but he wants more.  More power, more control, more influence.

At least here the drinking was not forced.  Some kings might say if I am drinking and getting drunk then everyone here needs to do the same.  A lot of bad things could be said about Persia but they at least had respect for the laws that they made.  And one of them is that there is to be no forced drinking.

Verse 8 say the drinking was according to the law.  We see very early on in the account that this detail is given.  Their respect for the law is foundational to what happens later.  The king will make a law for the Jews to be killed and it cannot be undone.

Some might say that’s crazy.  He is king just change it.  Not possible in this society.  Even the king’s feast is subject to the law and must be done according to the law.

A nation should have respect for their laws.  It brings order and civility.  A large part of the population in America has no respect for law.  They want to defund the police and our justice system will apply the law one way to political opponents and a different way to those on their side.

Some in America believe that the ends justify the means and therefore are fine with breaking laws if it leads to the ends that they think are right.

Not having respect for our laws has not helped our society.  Many people are being hurt and are losing freedoms because of this.

So while respect for laws is good and helpful for a society.  It can be taken too far.  Like the old saying there is a ditch on both sides of the road.

The Persians took it too far with the no law can be changed rule.  Their societies attitude on this plays a critical role in the story.  So we needed to take a moment and mention it.

Est 1:9  Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus. 

So while the king and the men he is entertaining are having their feast, Vashti the queen is also having a feast for the women.

Days pass.  Feast and tomorrow we feast.

Est 1:10  On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, 

Est 1:11  To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. 

On this day the king is drunk.  On the 7th day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine.

So his judgment is impaired.  He can’t think clearly.  Reaction times are slowed physically.  People who drive cars drunk are a danger to everyone.  And the reaction time of the mind is also slowed and impaired.

People will make decisions that they regret their entire life while they are under the influence of drink.

The king is drunk and been showing off with pomp and a massive feast.  Now he decides to show off his queen.  Verse 11 to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.

That is the reason he called for her.  We don’t have to guess at the reason.  It was not for her advice or help.

Vashti does not take this well.  Vashti married him before he was king.  She married him before he had the power to parade her around.

Est 1:12  But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. 

Have you ever heard the term, He is a mean drunk.  Alcohol has that effect on some.  Some it slides into depression.  It affects different people different ways.  One way is it sets lose their anger.  This drunken king gets very wroth, and his anger burned in him.

Est 1:13  Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment: 

The king then asks for counsel on this matter from men who knew their laws.  Many think that this empire that respected laws had a ton of laws.  Getting counsel can be a smart thing to do.  But be careful.  It depends on who you get counsel from.

Est 1:14  And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king’s face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;) 

Catch it. He asked counsel from 7 men, which saw the king’s face.  What did the king’s face look like?  Rage.  His anger burned in him.

They are also princes and have positions of some power and authority.  Going against a drunken king who is in a drunken rage would be a huge risk.  Watch them tell the king what he wants to hear in his current state.

Est 1:15  What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains? 

Est 1:16  And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. 

Est 1:17  For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. 

Est 1:18  Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. 

The king asked what could be done to Vashti according to the law.  And they could not give him what he wanted from the current laws.  Instead of telling him that there is nothing in the law that covers this.  They tell the king what he wants to hear at that moment.

They know the king wants to punish her according to the law so they tell him to make a new law.

Est 1:19  If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. 

Here it is again.  Let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered.  Once they made a law that was it.  No undoing it.  No changing it.  It was hard and ridged and no room for making a mistake.

This is a major life changing decision and those kinds of decisions should not be made in haste.  And this king is impaired in his judgment with drink and he is steaming mad.

Let me ask you.  Is this any time to make a serious life changing decision?

No.  But I have seen it done many times and not just when drunk.  I have seen good people.  People who never drank at all.  And they will get all worked up with emotion and not think things thru and make an impulsive decision.  And oops.  Later it is not so good.

I have seen people make the mistake of getting wrong counsel.  They know what they want to hear so they go and seek out people that will give counsel according to what they want.

These are some of the main lessons in this section of scripture.  We should take note and make major decisions when we are in the right frame of mind and we should seek counsel from people who love us enough to tell us the truth and not just what we want to hear.

The counselors that the king went to finish telling him what he wants to hear.

Est 1:20  And when the king’s decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small. 

Est 1:21  And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan: 

Memucan took point and framed the language of the new law.  It pleased the king and he signed off on it and it goes into effect.

Est 1:22  For he sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people. 

Est 2:1  After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. 

After he sobers up.  After his anger is gone.  He remembered Vashti.  He remembers what he asked for while he was drunk and the law that he signed off on against her.

Too late.  Cannot be undone.  Historians say that it appears that he had nothing against Vashti before this.  Now it can’t be undone.  Even in all of his power as ruler of a huge empire he is powerless to fix this mistake.  Mistakes have consequences.  That is the way that God has ordained things to work.

Gal_6:7  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

You can get impulsive and in anger make a rash decision and cause havoc in your life and in the lives of others.  And later you can ask forgiveness and get it, but the consequences can remain.

Some get mad at work and say mean things to the boss and quit.  Not getting that job back.  Some man makes a bad choice and has an affair.  Things will never be the same again.  Some hit a rough patch and hurry up and get a divorce.

Major decisions should not be make in haste and in anger.  And especially not while under the influence.

This is true for big decisions.  But the principal also holds true for smaller things.  I have seen angry drivers make quick poor bad decisions that ends in a wreck.  I think we have all heard of different road rage incidents.

Every Christian should take this to heart and make a commitment to themselves that they will not make major decisions in haste and anger.  It can help spare us from a lot of harm and heartache.

The king’s servants that minister to the king see the effect that it has on him.  Not much is said here about it, but it is implied in their reaction.  The king sobers up and remembers Vashti and the degree against her.  He knows he will never see her again.

Est 2:2  Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: 

Est 2:3  And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them: 

Est 2:4  And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so. 

The king can’t have Vashti back.  The unchangeable law makes sure of that.  The king approves the plan of his servants and then marches off to war for 4 years without a queen.

Not very many people have positions of great power but every person that has ever lived has faced the danger and the consequences of making impulsive, rash, emotional, choices.  Every Christian should admit that they could make a wrong impulsive decision.  Every Christian should keep this in mind and they should pray to their Lord and ask for His guidance and His grace to help them make correct decisions.

See more Bible Survey on Esther