Chapter 2 begins on a solemn note.
The king’s “fury had subsided” and now we can see the recognizable look of regret on his face. Only now does he realize the consequences of his drunken actions. Vashti is gone. His queen has been banished and it is all his fault.
His attendants quickly offer a solution, before his sorrow turns into anger against them. They want to help him find a new wife. The servants lay out the entire plan before the king in detail, and he agrees.
One thing which stands out to me as I read about King Xerxes, which will become more apparent throughout the story, is how quick he is to take other people’s advice. Of course, a king hires counselors to help him make better decisions. But that isn’t quite what is happening here. The king has surrounded himself with attendants who only want to make the king happy; to the detriment of giving him sound, wise advice.
The king is, in simplest terms, spoiled. And there is no one brave enough to tell him otherwise.
In many Biblical stories, there are two main characters readers are presented with. One is the hero. The person who is on God’s side, and whose actions we should model our lives after.
The other is the rival or enemy. This person makes the wrong choices and ends up paying a very steep price for their actions.
In most of these stories, we are taught to focus on the hero; to learn what they did and did not do. But that is only half the lesson. Many times, some of the best lessons are hidden in the lives of these rivals.
King Xerxes is one of the rivals in the story of Esther. He does not always make the wrong choice, but he is certainly not someone we would want to model our lives after. The reason Xerxes can be such a dangerous character is because of the situation we touched on above. He has surrounded himself with people who are unwilling to tell him the hard things, the uncomfortable truths. Because of that, he will always act and rule below his potential.
What voices have you surrounded yourself with? Can the people in your life tell you difficult, uncomfortable things? Or have you groomed your relationships to only tell you what you want to hear?
You shouldn’t want people around who are always negative or “against you.” That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that it is far too easy to only listen to words that reinforce our beliefs and actions. It’s much harder to hear messages that challenge us, push our limits, and call us out on our shortcomings.
I know I have been guilty of this. But if we choose to live like Xerxes, to surround ourselves with only the things we want to hear – just like him, we will always live below the potential God has called us to.
Takeaway: What we allow ourselves to listen to and believe, will profoundly shape our lives.
Prayer: God, You have given us Your word precisely so that it could shape our lives. Help me to listen even when it is difficult.