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This book opens with the history of a great feast made by the king of Persia to his high lords and captains. The queen being sent for to the banquet, refuseth to come.
(1) ¶ Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)
It is not very material to enquire, and especially as the HOLY GHOST hath not shown, who this Ahasuerus was. It is more than probable it is the same with Artaxerxes, Ezra 4:6-7 .-But in respect to the extent of his empire, I think it more important to remark that it must have been a most extensive one. It was much larger than the one Daniel speaks of, Daniel 6:1 . But Reader! think what a dominion is that of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, which is from sea to sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the earth. Think also, amidst all the greatness of Ahasuerus, how short and transient his reign was. Whereas JESUS reigneth forever, and of his duration and kingdom there shall be no end. Hail, thou glorious, thou almighty, thou universal and eternal monarch! Psalms 72:17-19; Psalms 72:17-19 .
(2) That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, (3) In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: (4) When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days. (5) And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace; (6) Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. (7) And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. (8) And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure. (9) Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
Reader! what a pitiful feast is this after all! to what good but waste. To what purpose but gluttony. To what intention but to feed our corrupt passions, lust and vanity. But turn your thoughts to JESUS. He hath made a feast indeed to all his princes and servants. A feast of fat things; and where he himself is both the LORD of it, and the whole of the banquet. Ahasuerus's feast was held for his princes and his nobles: But JESUS hath made a feast to all people: Isaiah 25:6 . Ahasuerus's feast lasted for 184 days: JESUS'S feast forever, Ahasuerus showed the riches of his kingdom: JESUS hath not only showed his people his glory, but made them partakers of it, and causeth them to sit down with him in his kingdom. Oh! for grace to adore the sovereign Redeemer as the king in Zion, and the LORD both of heaven and earth.
(10) ¶ On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, (11) To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. (12) But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. (13) Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment: (14) And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;) (15) What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains? (16) And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. (17) For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. (18) Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. (19) If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. (20) And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small. (21) And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan: (22) For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.
We have here the relation of the sad effects of feasting and drunkenness, which for the most part end in broils and contentious, and sometimes even in bloodshed and murder. Reader! recollect in your own knowledge whether you cannot call to mind evils resulting from intemperance. Indeed it can produce no good. The pampering our corrupt appetites, and feeding more than nature requires for sustenance, is at all times pernicious. Here we have ancient history of a divorce between Ahasuerus and his queen. And in more modern times what horrible consequences have ensued in public bodies, and in private life, from the excess of sensuality. Reader! depend upon it the happiness of man, even in relation to this life only, must consist in crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts.
MY Soul! let some of the improvements this scripture furnisheth lead thee to contemplate the sad state of man by the fall? What do we read of this great king and his vast empire of good. What hungry bellies did he fill; what poor did he nourish: and what misery did he relieve? Not a word of these royal acts. How would his name have been handed down to posterity had some sweet records like these have been given to us. And yet infinitely higher, and more illustrious, had his reverence and love of GOD been recorded. Could it have been said that his court and people, led by his example, were pious towards GOD, and gracious towards men? Instead of this, we hear of nothing concerning him but feasting and lust, pride and passion.
From such a prince let us turn to one who was, and is, the reverse. Yes! blessed JESUS, thou art the prince of the kings of the earth; and both in empire, in love, and power, and grace, and goodness, all thy people can desire. Under thy reign everything is formed for real splendour, real happiness and joy. Thou causest them that love thee to inherit substance, yea durable riches, and righteousness. Thou makest a feast indeed, a gracious, spiritual feast, and art thyself the food thereof. And thy feast is to lead thy people into green pastures, and feed them beside the still waters of comfort. And by and by thou wilt bring, them all home to thine everlasting mansions of light, and joy, and happiness above, where thou wilt lead them to fountains of living waters, and where thou wilt wipe away all tears from all eyes.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Esther 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24