“On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him” (Esther 1:10-12).
The book of Esther is a great study in the Providence of God (i.e. how God provides for His people and goes about to accomplish His purposes). It is the story of a young Jewish girl who will become queen of the Persia and save her people from the evil plots of a wicked man named Haman.
The first chapter of the book speaks of how events transpired causing the need for a new queen for the empire. King Ahasuerus ruled the vast kingdom of the Medes and Persians which stretched from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1). During the 3rd year of his reign he throws a huge feast for all his officials (Esther 1:2-8). As the above verses indicate, on the 7th day of this great feast, when he appears to be drunk (i.e. “the heart of the king was merry with wine”, Esther 1:10), the king wants to show off the beauty of his wife, queen Vashti, to his invited guests. However, there is a problem: The queen refuses to come out and be paraded before these men (Esther 1:10-12a).
How does the king react? He could have reacted by simply saying, “Oh well, I guess I’ll find some other way to entertain my guests”. But instead, he becomes “furious, and his anger burned within him” (Esther 1:12b). Not only does he become angry, but now he seeks advice from his friends, who were also probably drunk, as to what should be done (Esther 1:13-15). His friends make a mountain out of a molehill and say, “Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the queen's behavior will become known to all women, so that they will despise their husbands in their eyes…” (Esther 1:16-17). They act like this one event is going to lead to all the wives throughout the entire empire disrespecting their husbands. Their advice is to remove Vashti from being queen and that a new queen should be sought to take her place (Esther 1:19). Because of their own insecurity they deemed necessary that the king issue a decree throughout the empire that all wives should honor their husbands (Esther 1:20-22). The king follows this advice.
“After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her” (Esther 2:1). Following his feast when the wine wears off, it appears the king comes to his senses. It appears he now misses Vashti and what he had done to her. However, the damage had already been done by his fit of anger. Although a new queen will be sought for him, it will take approximately 4 years before Esther will become his bride (cf. Esther 1:3; 2:16-17). His uncontrolled anger had created a lot of problems for himself!
As I consider the actions of this king, I think about the hurt both to myself and those around me when I fail to keep my anger under control. God’s Word emphasizes the importance of keeping our anger under control: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32) Today, I will seek God’s strength to keep my anger in check!
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).