|Stories For Christ||
David and his men had been out in the wilderness for a long time. While they were there, they met a group of men who worked for Nabal. David and his men shared their resources with Nabal's men and protected them day and night. These men were not warriors. They were shepherds guarding Nabal's sheep. David wanted to keep them safe.
The gates were noisy with the news. Something big was happening at the palace. The king was upset about something. There were rumors that the queen had been banished and a new queen was to take her place.
Esther heard the rumors, but she paid little attention to such stories. Especially from the palace. She had little patience with politics.
Esther was a beautiful Jewish woman. She was kind, considerate, quiet, and respectful. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai had raised her as his own daughter because her parents had died when she was a small child. She had grown up happy and satisfied with her life.
In time, the rumors were validated. The queen had been banished from the palace. It seems that the king had given a banquet.
During an elaborate banquet he was hosting, King Xerxes ordered Queen Vashti to appear and display her body for his guests. She refused which angered and humiliated the king. As was the custom at the time, King Xerxes called his councilmen together and asked their advice. The men were afraid that all the wives in the kingdom would disobey their husbands like Queen Vashti had. The councilmen, in all their wisdom, suggested that Queen Vashti be stripped of her title and never allowed to see the king again. King Xerxes, full of male ego, agreed and decreed it so.
As we all do, King Xerxes calmed down in a few days and deeply regretted his decision. However, because of the way he had decreed the action, he could not reverse his decision. So like most people who don’t get their way, he pouted. He was in a deep funk and close to depression. The councilmen decided that what he needed to take his mind of Vashti, were more women. So they suggested that they be allowed to gather all the young virgins of the kingdom and bring them before him so he could choose a new queen. Immediately, the king cheerfully agreed.
At the end of the twelve months, every woman was to present herself before the king. At that time she could ask for anything she wanted and King Xerxes would grant it. The women tried to outdo each other in their requests to the king. Which one could get the most valuable things? Esther wasn’t a materialistic person. She knew that God had a purpose in sending her to the palace and it wasn’t to get rich. Esther had sought the advice of the king’s eunuch. “What shall I ask for?” When it was Esther’s turn, the king was very pleased at the sight of her. “What do you ask for? Up to half of my kingdom shall be yours if you ask.” Instead of asking for material goods, Esther requested exactly what Hegai, the king’s eunuch suggested.
Haman was King Xerxes’ right hand man. He was well respected in the palace. The king thought he was like his first chief. Haman hated Mordecai. Actually he hated all the Jews. One day he hatched a plan to get rid of them.
Haman went into the king’s throne room. “Hey king, we’ve got a bunch of these foreigners in the land. They are different than we are. Their customs are different from ours. The differences are starting to rattle our people. I’m afraid we could have a civil war on our hands. I propose we kill them all.”
“How are we going to do that? There are so many of them.”
“I think we should offer a bounty. Our citizens should get a bounty for every Jew he kills. If we offer a big enough bounty, our citizens will go for it.”
“I do. Let’s write it up.”
“Okay.” So the king called his scribes in and had them write the law.
Rumors were flying all over the land. Mordecai, being the intelligent person he was, listened carefully. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that his people were going to be killed off, one by one. He was distraught. He dressed himself in sackcloth, as was the custom if one was grieving. He went to the palace, but no one was allowed in if they were wearing sackcloth. Esther was told about Mordecai sitting at the gate. She was mortified.
“Here, take these clothes to Mordecai. Tell him I said to change his clothes and come inside.” Esther told one of her best maids.
The maid did exactly as Esther told her. Mordecai refused to change his clothes. The maid went back and told Esther about it.
“Go back and ask him what he’s upset about.”
The maid returned with the story that the Jews were to be killed. “Mordecai wants you to go ask the king to reverse that order.”
On the way home, Haman saw Mordecai sitting at the gate. His wrath rose to the point of boiling. He walked into his house seething. He called his wife and friends together. He told them, “I am one of the richest men in the kingdom. I am one of the most important. Queen Esther invited only the king and me to a banquet. That’s how important I am. But every time I see Mordecai, I forget about all that. What should I do?”
His friends suggested that he build gallows to hang Mordecai and other Jews. Haman liked that idea and ordered the gallows built.
That night King Xerxes couldn’t sleep and ordered the book of records read to him. In the book was a recording of a time when Mordecai had discovered the king’s gate keepers planned to kill him. He had exposed them and thus saved the king’s life.
“What did we do for Mordecai for saving my life?” King Xerxes asked.
“I can’t find a record that we did anything for him.”
“Oh that’s just not right. We have to do something for Mordecai. He saved my life. He must be rewarded. Who on my council is here now?”
“Haman is just coming in the gate.”
“Send him to me.”
When Haman entered the room, King Xerxes asked, “What should we do for the man who has pleased me greatly?”
Haman, being Haman, thought the king was referring to him. “Why, you should gather clothes from the palace, a horse that was ridden by the king himself, and the royal crest to be placed on his head. Hand all these things to one of the king’s noble princes and have him ceremoniously place the robe on the man and present him with the horse and crest.”
“That’s a great idea.” King Xerxes shouted. “Go get all those things and take them to Mordecai and present him with the gifts. Make it an honor. Be sure that all his friends and family are there to see him honored.”
Haman’s spirits hit rock bottom. Not only was he not getting the gifts, he had to give them to his worst enemy. He took the robe and horse. He put the robe on Mordecai and put him on the horse. Then he led him through town so everyone could see what the king did for someone who pleased him.
Afterward, Mordecai went back to the palace and Haman went home very depressed. He was still grieving when the kings’ men came to take him to the banquet.
Again the banquet was as delicious as it had been the night before. When then had finished the meal, King Xerxes said, “Alright, Esther. What do you want? Whatever you want? Up to half of my kingdom. Ask me for anything.”