Author’s Note: Today, we begin an 8-week series on the Old Testament book of Esther. We will discover many modern lessons in their ancient story. I would encourage you to sit down and read the whole book straight through. This will help with the context.
On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas -- to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times
Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes.
Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.
Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it. Esther 1:10-13, 16, 19; 2:2, 4
Powerful people are prone to doing dumb things. Xerxes had conquered all of his enemies and was a tyrant over nearly everyone in the known world. His kingdom stretched from modern day Pakistan to the Sudan. He ruled with brute force. Xerxes was the Saddam Hussein of his time, except that there weren't other powers to keep him in check. Xerxes had power over all. Absolute power had certainly corrupted absolutely.
Yet, power, intimidation and brute force don’t bring about respect. Just like a bad boss or an incompetent CEO could force people to work, they certainly can’t get the best out of people. A visit to the break room will quickly reveal how much respect they have earned.
Xerxes called for his wife, Vashti, to walk the runway and once again impress all of his subjects. She refused. Vashti, much like Tina Turner, had just had enough. After all, what’s love got to do with it? She didn’t want to be treated like his property. She just said “No.” His control didn’t gain her respect.
Xerxes had a problem. This wasn’t merely a lovers’ quarrel. If the queen, as his subject, refused to obey his commands, then what other subjects might refuse? It wouldn’t take long to slide down that slippery slope.
The easy solution, according to his advisors, was to find a replacement for the queen. She would certainly never say “No” again. Xerxes regained his control, yet he continued to lose respect.
Who do you find disrespects you? Few people do things simply because their supposed to. “Because I said so” stopped working long ago. What have you invested in the person who disrespects you? Do they understand your motives? Do you understand theirs? Do they know that you are on their side? Do they know that you care? Exerting control won’t gain respect.
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