The book of Esther is a roller coaster story worthy of any Hollywood movie producer. It has it all – power, wealth, betrayal, love, revenge, intrigue. Through it all, we see God’s infinite care for the people he created and loves.
The story opens with a few verses that tell us everything we need to know about King Xerxes. He is clearly powerful and wealthy. He is also vain and self-important, desperate to make sure that everyone around knows how rich and important he is.
For a full 180 days – six months – Xerxes entertains all the nobles, officials and military leaders of his kingdom at a lavish event. Bible historians believe that this may have been essentially a military conference where the leaders planned their strategy for an attack on Greece.
Some conference! We are told that Xerxes displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom, and topped it off with a seven-day banquet and an exorbitant display of material wealth – couches of gold and silver, precious stones set into the floor, expensive fine linens hanging in the gardens and, of course, wine. Lots and lots of wine.
We may look around our world today and wonder at the excessive wealth of some, compared to the grinding poverty of others. We may long for leaders who display humility, compassion and understanding of the ordinary person. We are not alone. As the writer of Ecclesiastes was so fond of saying, there is nothing new under the sun.
Pride is a dangerous thing. Pride begins the tumultuous events of this story, and many of the tumultuous events of our modern times too. May we submit ourselves to the Lord and ask him to cleanse us of all pride in our own accomplishments and instead give us humble hearts before him.