Devotional Week 33 Thursday
“And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they screamed out with fright. But instantly He spoke to them saying, ‘Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid!”
Matthew 14: 26, 27
“Lord, purge our eyes to see
Within the seed a tree,
Within the glowing egg a bird,
Within the shroud a butterfly.
Till, taught by such we see
Beyond all creatures, Thee
And hearken to Thy tender word
And hear its ‘Fear not; it is I. ‘”
Today’s Study Text:
“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.”
Esther 2: 1
“Later, when King Ahasuerus’ anger had cooled and he was having second thoughts about what Vashti had done and what he had ordered against her, the king’s young attendants stepped in and got the ball rolling.”
Esther 2: 1, 2
The Message Bible
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“Vashti’s Victory ” Part 9
Definition of “Victory”: “A successful struggle against an opponent or obstacle. Triumphant.”
“The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.”
Corrie ten Boom
Looking over my life, can I identify times when I was victorious?
How did I feel when I sensed I had been victorious?
“I would rather have a defeat with humility than a victory with pride.”
“I sheath my sword. In mercy go.
Turn back from me your hopeless eyes,
For in them all my anger dies:
I cannot face a beaten foe.
My cause was just, the fight was sweet.
Go from me, O mine enemy,
Before, in shame of victory,
You find me kneeling at your feet.”
The poem above, at first glance or a quick reading, may not appear to be closely woven into the story of Queen Vashti’s life. However, if we pause to contemplate the several thoughts Aline Kilmer seeks to share, we’ll find that while Vashti’s name isn’t mentioned, the victory of her triumphant life, where virtuous and valiant behavior rise above the mere call of passion’s momentary satisfaction, carry’s lessons which apply to you and me as we navigate life in the 21st century.
As the poet notes, the victor doesn’t need to wave their battle sword in the face of the loser. Humiliation of the conquered, I might add, was not a card in Vashti’s deck. Instead, when ordered to appear before a drunken crowd of men, she simply refused. Indeed, as the poet states, her “cause was just, the fight was sweet.” It is likely the request to parade her beauty was something she had been asked to do on more than one occasion.
But at some point in all our lives, many of us are called to reassess our priorities and to ponder the direction of our behavior. And from all that is written in the first chapter of the book of Esther, the picture of life in Medo-Persia during the rulership of King Ahasuerus begins to take shape.
Having gathered the recommendations from his advisors, the king proceeded to send out a royal edict throughout the land which informed the population that Vashti was no longer the queen. Specifically, the king said that “Vashti (will) come no more before King Ahasuerus.” Furthermore, whatever the estate of the queen contained would be given to another “better than she.” It is interesting that the Bible takes the time to make it clear that Queen Vashti was extremely beautiful. And this point is conveyed not just once, but twice. Yet, in a spirit of rage, the king made a decision in haste, banishing the queen immediately and stripping her of all rights and possessions.
Having acted in such a rash manner, the king came to the conclusion that when all the other women in Medo-Persia got wind of the punishment heaped upon Vashti, they would “shape up” in regard to the demands their husband’s imposed upon them.
However, the unknown author of the book of Esther doesn’t just end Chapter 1 with the disappearance of Vashti. Our study text for today gives us a broader picture of what occurred when King Ahasuerus finally sobered up. Esther 2: 1 states “after these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was pacified, he earnestly remembered Vashti” (Esther 2: 1, Amplified Bible). I want to share what is nearly a universal agreement regarding the first verse in Esther 2: 1. Commentator Jon Levenson has these thoughts:
“How long Ahasuerus was perturbed is hard to determine…In the Hebrew Bible, the verb to ‘remember’ zãkar, often carries with it a note of compassion: one ‘remembers’ someone to the later’s advantage. The implication of Esther 2: 1 is that Ahasuerus has become melancholy in the absence of his wife and regretful of the severity of her punishment.”
One of my favorite Biblical commentators, Matthew Henry, points out that the Jewish historian, Josephus offers very astute comments regarding Vashti’s apparent snub of the king and subsequent banishment as queen (Fortunately, several years ago my mother gave me a well-worn copy of her families book of Josephus which bore my grandfather’s handwritten notes from 1953 so I’m able to research this historical writing with my own book!)
Here’s Josephus’ take on this fascinating experience:
“Now the king was desirous to show (Vashti), who exceeded all other women in beauty, to those who feasted with him, and he sent some to command her to come to his feast.But she, out of regard to the laws of the Persians, which forbid the wives to be seen by strangers, did not go to the king…Though he oftentimes sent the eunuchs to her, she did nevertheless stay away, and refused to come, till the king was so much irritated, that he broke up the entertainment, and rose up, and called for those seven who had the interpretation of the laws committed to them, and accused his wife, and said that he had been affronted by her…He therefore gave order that they should inform him what could be done by the law against her.”
Having followed the advice of his councilors, the king had to live with the consequences. And as Josephus continues: “The king having been fond of Vashti, did not well bear a separation, and yet by law (the one he wrote in haste when angry and drunk) he could not admit of a reconciliation.” It’s fascinating that the advice King Lemuel records, taught to him by his mother carries a special warning that could have kept King Ahasuerus out of a lot of trouble: “It is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink, lest they drink and forget the law and what it decrees and pervert justice” (Proverbs 31: 4, 5, Amplified Bible).
At the end of the poem that began our “Inspiration”, poet Aline Kilmer ends with these interesting words: “Go from me, O mine enemy, Before in shame of victory, you find me kneeling at your feet.” I have always wondered, as I studied the story of Vashti why some arrangement could not be made so that she could of complied with the king’s demand. But to do so, would have meant she was “kneeling at the feet” of a person who had disrespected her in such a manner that she believed to make an accommodation would bring shame upon the triumphant statement her life made not only to those in the court of Medo-Persia but down through time. For no matter the cost, Vashti’s victory” still resonates with women down to this very day.
A Woman’s Prayer
“May I seek and find the sacred within me, reaching beyond panic, worry, anger, and fear to my part of the eternal. May the Holy Spirit dissolve my pain, selfishness, and vanity so that I may cheerfully accept success and failure equally, be grateful for the life I have been given and able to share what I have with others. Help me to understand that it is not through something outside of myself, but in recognizing the consequences of my own choices and my own exercise of faith that I will find the refreshment, strength, and other qualities I need if I am to be useful. Help me remember that it is not in striving against events, but in accepting what comes, even disappointments and sorrows, in the spirit of Christ and the Cross, that I will find peace and fulfillment. Amen.”
Ms. Barbara A. Monsor
God Has a Purpose For You
“Finding your way,
discovering your purpose,
the spark of delight
becomes a roaring fire
of passion for destiny.
Believe in destiny.
There is always a purpose.
Know that now;
when it happens.
Your time will come,
You will know your purpose,
It is true,
if you believe.
destiny is God’s will.
God has a purpose for you.
And when you discover it,
you grow closer to hugging Jesus in the end.
Ms Holly J. Wyman
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus