At Work Behind the Scenes
by James T. Bartsch
based on Esther 1
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
God At Work Behind The Scenes
Vanishing Vashti, the Case of the Reluctant Queen.
A. The Banquet and Open House of King Ahasuerus 1:1-9
1. The Banquet 1-3.
a. The identification of the king: Ahasuerus 1:1
b. The opening banquet of the King
1) The place of the banquet: fortress of Susa 1:2
2) The time of the banquet: third year of his reign 1:3
3) The guests at the banquet: the royalty and military of Persia and Media
2. The Open House of the King 1:4
a. The display of the King: His wealth
b. The time involved: 180 days
3. The concluding banquet of the King 1:5-8
a. The length of the banquet: seven days 1:5
b. The guests at the banquet: all who had access to the fortress, including commoners
c. The venue of the banquet: the fortress in Susa
d. The furnishings for the banquet 1:6
1) The hangings:
2) The couches:
3) The flooring:
e. The drinks at the banquet 1:7-8
1) The elegance of the goblets 1:7
2) The plentitude of the wine:
3) The freedom in drinking 1:8
4. The concurrent banquet of the Queen 1:9
a. The hostess: Queen Vashti
b. The female guests: The women of the harem
B. The Queen Refuses to Attend. Queen Vashti's Refusal to be Displayed at the King's Banquet 1:10-12
1. The condition of the King: Merry with wine 1:10
a. Alcohol. See Prov 23:29-35
b. Ephesians 5:18 – Do not be controlled by spirits but by the Spirit!
c. Alcohol reduces one’s inhibitions. In other words, alcohol makes you more willing to do things that otherwise you would think are wrong or inappropriate. Why do people who are at a certain stage of drunkenness laugh at everything even though it’s not funny? Why do you think guys want to get girls liquored up on a date? So they will be willing to go to bed when otherwise they might think it was inappropriate.
d. Several years ago I had an arthroscopic knee surgery. When I was out of surgery and going home, I was extremely outgoing and a bit noisy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but later on, a woman who was working in the front office at the hospital also attended our church. The next Sunday when she saw me, she giggled and said, “You were higher than a kite.” “I was?” “Yes you were.” See, I didn’t know that the pain-killer drugs they gave me would make me that way. If I had known that, I would have tried to calm down as I left the hospital. Pain killers, like alcohol, make us lose our inhibitions!
2. The command of the King 1:10-11
a. The order of the King: To bring the Queen
b. The purpose of the King: in order to display her beauty
3. The refusal of the Queen 1:12
4. The Anger of the King: See the following Proverbs:
a. Prov 12:16
b. Prov 14:17
c. Prov 14:29
d. Prov 15:1
e. Prov 15:18
f. Prov 16:32
g. Prov 19:11
h. Prov 19:19
i. Prov 20:2
j. Prov 22:24
l. Prov 27:4 Comment by Sid Buzzell, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: 27:4. When a person is angry and furious he can be cruel toward others. His words and actions may cause others to cower in fear. But jealousy is even worse because it may include anger and fury and merciless revenge, as illustrated in 6:32-35. Who can stand before jealousy? is one of the few rhetorical questions in Proverbs.
m. Prov 29:8
n. Prov 29:22
o. Prov 30:33
C. The King Deposes the Queen 1:13-22
1. Consultation. The King consults with the seven princes of Persia and Media 1:13-15
a. The qualifications of the consultants 1:13-14a
1) They were wise men 1:13
2) They understood the times
3) They knew the law and justice
4) They were close to the king 1:14a
b. The identity of the consultants 1:14b
c. The influence of the consultants
d. The question of the King 1:15 What should be done with Vashti?
2. Advice. Memucan advises the king to depose Vashti as Queen in order to promote wifely respect for husbands throughout the realm 1:16-20
a. His thesis: Queen Vashti has wronged the whole nation 1:16
1) The King
2) The princes
3) The peoples of the provinces
b. His reasoning 1:17-18
1) The Queen's bad example will engender contempt among the common women of the empire toward their husbands 1:17
2) The Queen's bad example will engender contempt among the ladies of Persia and Media toward the King's Princes 1:18
c. His counsel -- let the King make a Law 1:19
1) That Vashti be deposed
2) That the King choose another to be Queen
d. His rationale -- the King's edict will cause all women throughout the kingdom to honor their husbands 1:20
3. Law. The king issues an edict deposing Vashti 1:21-22
a. The agreement of the King and his royal advisors 1:21
b. The King's kingdom wide edict 1:22
1) The extent of the edict
a) To every province
b) To every people
2) The content of the edict
a) Every man should be the master of his own house
b) The language of the husband should be the prevailing language of the house. Evidently this meant that, if the household were multi-lingual, the language of the husband / father would be the prevailing language by decree of law.
D. Principles to Remember
1. What lesson can we learn about Marriage?
a. We have here a clear case of marital discord.
1) The text states that Ahasuerus’ heart was merry with wine after seven days of drinking. We know that consuming too much alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions. This is not a good sign.
2) So in a state of evidently too much wine, presumably with lowered inhibitions, Ahasuerus gives an order. This order is for his wife, the Queen, to appear. Now since she had been giving a banquet for the ladies, it seems safe to assume that, ordinarily, these banquets were not co-ed affairs. Is it possible that Vashti was uncomfortable coming to a banquet comprised of men, a great many of whom were inebriated?
3) Whatever the case, because the text does not say, Vashti did not come.
b. Here is something we know for sure. God’s Word commands husbands to love their wives the same way that Christ loves His Church. Christ showed his love for the church by dying on the cross to save people from the penalty for sin.
1) Eph 5:25-30
2) Since Ahasuerus was soused with wine, it seems doubtful that he was acting in the best interests of his wife. It is clear that he wanted to show her off, like some trophy of his.
c. We also know that Vashti did not submit to her husband, the King, and his command. We know that God expects wives to submit to their own husbands in everything, just as the Church does to Christ. Eph 5:22-24
d. Marriage is a two-way street: Eph 5:33. (May I point out that the word for “respects” in the original language is the word “fear.”) She should fear to contradict her husband, fear to disobey him.
e. I attended a conference on Domestic Abuse some time ago. During a discussion period at the end of one of the sessions, the subject of wives submitting to their husbands came up, and a number of women began to discuss the subject with disdain and vitriol. Finally, I could take it no longer. I spoke up and said something like this, “The Bible clearly says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. It also says that wives are to submit to their husbands in all things as the Church does to Christ. Whenever you have a marriage in which either the husband does not love his wife the way Christ loved the Church, and / or you have a wife who does not submit to her husband as the Church does to Christ, you have an unhappy or ineffective or a broken marriage.” It is a two-way street.
f. When we have a husband who does not love his wife like Christ loved the Church, and when we have a wife who does not follow her husbands instruction as the church is to follow Christ, we have marital discord.
g. Furthermore that marital discord is a detriment to society. When the fabric of a home begins to fall apart, the nation begins to fall apart. A breakdown in the home endangers the solidity and the safety and the viability of a nation. You can see that in our own nation, the United States, today.
2. The Sovereignty of God:
a. But in the final analysis, Esther 1 was not written to us to tell us the evils of alcohol. It was not written to us to tell us the evils of anger. Nor was it written to us to tell us the evils of marital discord.
b. Esther 1 is all about God using a drunken king and an insubmissive, vanquished queen to bring in a new queen whom God will use to save His people.
c. As we work our way through the book of Esther, we will discover that Esther is about the Sovereignty of God in protecting His people.
1) Psa 115:3. God does whatever He wishes!
2) Dan 2:20-21. God removes kings and He sets up kings.
3) Dan 4:34-35. The Eternal God has an Eternal Dominion. Earth’s inhabitants are inconsequential in His sight. He does whatever He wishes up in heaven and among earth’s inhabitants, and no one can query Him or stop Him!
4) Jer 31:37. If the heavens can be measured, and the earth’s foundations found, Yahweh will cast Israel aside in punishment for all she has done.
5) John 10:27-28. Jesus give His sheep eternal life, and they are perpetually secure.
God is the All-Powerful Monarch who controls Kings and removes Queens to protect His people. Are you under His protection? Are you one of God’s people?
God at Work Behind the Scenes
A Sermon Based on Esther 1
By James T. Bartsch, WordExplain.com
Delivered at Flint Hills Community Church, Cottonwood Falls
October 8, 2006
Edited and Published Online by WordExplain.com June 11, 2007
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This sermon is based on, and the Scripture references link to the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. The Scripture References are linked to BibleGateway.com.
(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Used by Permission.)