My previous article ended with Queen Vashti being removed from the presence of King Ahasuerus. This week, the search for a new queen begins. And the search is not a beauty pageant. It’s yet another selfish endeavor by King Ahasuerus.
“After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s young men who attended him said, ‘Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.’ This pleased the king, and he did so” (Esth. 2:1-4 ESV).
There’s at least four years between the end of chapter 1 and the start of chapter 2. According to historical sources, King Ahasuerus forms an army and attacks Greece during this time. Much to his disappointment, he is defeated. His ambitious heart is broken. In other words, our study today begins with a desperate and defeated king.
I don’t know about you, but I often find myself in broken places. Reflecting on what was. Disappointed by what could’ve been. Feeling needy. And longing for someone or something to fill the crevices of my shattered heart.
Recognizing his broken state, Ahasuerus’s young men have an idea. They encourage King Ahasuerus to summon a variety of young girls to sleep with him. Talk about temptation! I mean, here’s a powerful king encouraged to soak in the water of his own lust. Here’s a powerful king encouraged to use virgins for his own pleasure and satisfaction. After all, he’s broken. He’s hurting. And he needs some peace. With that in mind, let me ask a couple of questions.
Who do you listen to when you’re hurting?
There are voices fighting for your attention. Temptations left and right. Advertisements, commercials, friends, and family. But we must be careful to consider where those voices are leading us. King Ahasuerus is certainly persuaded by the wrong crowd.
What are you using to numb the pain?
You’re not summoning hundreds of virgins to sleep with you by force. That’s called sexual assault today. But maybe it’s alcohol. Maybe it’s pornography. Maybe it’s food. Money. You get the idea. But as Landon Dowden writes, “The best proposals from the world cannot meet our deepest needs.”
The first four verses of Esther 2 reveal the ugly reality of temptation and sin. Some guys are tempting King Ahasuerus to gratify himself. And the passage ends with these words: “This pleased the king, and he did so” (v. 4 ESV).
How often do we find ourselves pleased by the thought of sin? How often do we find ourselves enamored by the thought of pleasure, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t satisfy our brokenness?
But your story need not be like that of King Ahasuerus. When you feel broken, there’s a better place to run. When you’re hurting, there’s a better source of comfort. When you’re defeated, there’s a better way. And His name is Jesus Christ.
I’m reminded of the woman at the well in John 4. A woman living in sin. A woman who had five husbands throughout her life, and now she is living with another man. And Jesus asks her for some water from the well. But knowing her broken state, Jesus says, “‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (v. 13-14 ESV).
Indeed, no other water can satisfy the cravings of our broken souls. No other water can meet us in our hurt and bring us peace.
You see, like the woman at the well, King Ahasuerus seeks to satisfy his pain by worldly pleasure. But you and I can accept the invitation of Christ and receive a water that never runs dry. A water that satisfies the deepest craving of our souls.
But even through Ahasuerus’s failure, God is working. And as we’re about to see, one of the ladies Ahasuerus seeks is a girl named Esther. And God will use this Esther to save the Jews from destruction. Despite our sin, God is in control. Even when we seem to mess up the story, God is far from done. After all, He is sovereign in the silence.