Esther 1:13-22 - The King Acts Upon Worldly Wisdom

Our text this morning is found in Esther 1: 13-22,

13 Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for this was the king's procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, 14 the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king's face, and sat first in the kingdom): 15 “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs?” 16 Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen's behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ 18 This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen's behavior will say the same to all the king's officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. 19 If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” 21 This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. 22 He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.

Last week we discovered…

How quickly celebrations can turn sour.

How quickly parties can take a turn for the worst.

How quickly a cheerful mood can become melancholy.

How quickly our knee jerk reactions in anger can define much of our future.

All of these things have just happened to Ahasuerus. The party abruptly came to an end and casual drunken conversations have now taken a turn towards the seriousness of Queen Vashti’s actions.

Where will Ahasuerus turn for wisdom and guidance in this situation?

Will the ensuing conversations help or hurt?

Will the counsel he is given be godly or ungodly?

Will his response restorer his relationship or will it result in a permanent separation?

In the aftermath of this event Ahasuerus finds himself surrounded by the ‘wise men who knew the times’ (13). We are told that these men were versed in the law and in giving judgment (13). We are told that these men ‘saw the kings face, and sat first in the kingdom’ (14). In other words, these men had the kings attention and they would often give him counsel.

One of these men, Memucan, was the one who gave the king the counsel that would determine the kings response in this moment. He said,

Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen's behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ 18 This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen's behavior will say the same to all the king's officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. 19 If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.”

This morning I’d like to make some observations about the counsel that the king is given. First, It would be hard to over emphasize the important role that counselors have in our lives.

  • When wise counsel is given to a ruler the people are well served. When bad advice is given to the king the whole kingdom suffers.

  • When family and friends act upon good godly council there will be progress but if they act upon bad counsel there will be trouble.

Who are you receiving your counsel from? Who has your ear when you are receiving advice?

Let me encourage you in three ways. First, do not receive counsel from the wicked. Secondly, surround yourself with wise biblically oriented believers. Third, seek counsel from the Lord through the scriptures and through prayer. Consider Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.

Recently I read through 1st and 2nd Samuel. One of the things that I discovered was that King David often surrounded himself with godly people who could help him through difficult moments. When you look at David’s life you see that there are some things to consider.

  • Sometimes David would give a command and those around him would try to convince him that it was a bad idea. For example, when David wanted to take a census his general tried to stop him because it would be evil in God’s eyes.

  • Then there was a time when David gave an order to have Uriah killed and on that occasion the general remained silent and obeyed the order.

  • Thirdly, there were times that entire groups of men would counsel David to do evil and he would have to reject that counsel. A couple times his men told him to kill Saul. They even said, “God has delivered Saul into your hand this day”.