Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?

Read: Esther 1

The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days. (vv. 3-4)

The first chapter of Esther introduces us to the Persian emperor, Ahasuerus. His name literally means “high and mighty” and he is out to impress his subjects. Not content with the one-hundred-eighty-day bash he throws for the entire Persian army, he tops it off with a lavish, seven-day drinking party at the palace. As the grand finale, he orders Queen Vashti to parade her beauty before his well-oiled guests. Is it any wonder she refuses?

As we read the Bible’s account of this ancient ego-fest, we would do well to ask ourselves, “What are we reading here?” If we assume that this is an ancient episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” we may well be impressed. But what if the biblical author wants us to form another impression, namely, of a flawed ruler who thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think (Romans 12:3)?

Either way, things don’t work out so well for Ahasuerus. He may control an empire that stretches from India to Ethiopia, but at the end of the day, he can’t control his own wife. —Carol Bechtel

As you pray, ask God, the defender of the poor and guardian of the weak, to help you order your life according to the values of his kingdom.

About the Author

The Rev. Dr. Carol Bechtel is Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan where she has taught since 1994. Dr. Bechtel preaches and teaches widely and is a General Synod Professor of Theology in the Reformed Church in America. She served as President of the RCA’s General Synod and moderator of its General Synod Council. She also serves as the Executive Director of the American Waldensian Society. Her publications include a commentary on Esther for the Interpretation series, and several Bible study books and curricula.

She now lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband, Tom Mullens. They have four children and seven grandchildren. Her hobbies include singing, cooking, gardening, and the Celtic harp.