The Book of Esther starts off with a dream. God is known to speak to people in dreams, throughout Scripture and even to this day. I’m a very active dreamer - a night doesn’t go by without one, and I’ve definitely woken up from a few that I just knew were of God. I can still vividly remember every detail, and their meanings continue to be unveiled as I go through different chapters of my life. So what’s in this dream?
Mordecai, a Jew in Babylonian exile, dreams of darkness and distress. All of the nations are preparing for war against the “righteous nation,” the Jewish people, who cry out to God in the face of their impending doom. As they cried out in prayer, “as though from a tiny spring, there came a great river, with abundant water” to save them. (Esther 1:9)
Did you notice that? The abundant water comes forth from a tiny spring.
You will see in later chapters who the water symbolizes for this particular story, yet God’s dreams always have deeper layers and meanings. This water can be for any of us, this powerful river of His grace. Christ constantly takes the not enough and turns it into overflowing abundance. He constantly takes the small, humble soul and uses Him for His glory. This is the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, constantly played out in our lives.
His grace starts off as a little spring in our souls, and we are completely in control of allowing it to turn into a great flood of water. The key is asking for it, like a valve switch - the people cried out to God. And waited. And remained open. And trusted. So wade into this spring, sisters, and watch as the water begins to rise and rush forth all around you.
This river of grace is in direct opposition to the luxurious banquet of King Ahasuerus, a 3-month banquet to show off the riches of his kingdom to his peers. Glasses of gold and silver were filled with “abundant sweet wine, such as the king himself drank.” (Esther 1:7) In this place where the wine flowed and material graces abounded, the soul was left inside like a dried up spring. This abundant wine was not a torrent of grace, not the sweet life-giving Blood we receive at the banquet of the Mass, but a false quenching of material thirst. An empty abundance.
It’s no wonder then, that this empty wine leads to such a worldly attitude towards women. The drunken King Ahasuerus did not call Queen Vashti in to admire her beauty in a grateful and God-honoring sense, but as his prized possession. Instead of viewing her as the crown of creation, he wanted to show her off as his best jewel. Yet she refuses.
I have to wonder, why did Vashti say no? She is so vilified by the men that they didn’t even stop to ask the question, and Scripture remains silent on the matter. Was she fed up with being on display? Was she yearning for that river flood of grace? Or was she simply tired from entertaining, after having thrown a banquet for all the women? Whatever the case, I admire her for her courage.
However, the humiliated king and his men worry that “the queen’s conduct will be made known to all the women, and they will look with disdain upon their husbands.” (Esther 1:17) In order to protect his public image and that of husbands throughout his kingdom, they decide to dispose Queen Vashti. This was motivated out of fear and power, not out of love and respect for their wives. It is a God-given honor that the man is the head of the household, but it is never something that should be taken by force or greed. The men were not secure in their call by God to lead the household in virtue and sacrificial love. Instead, they tried to dominate and suppress the women in their lives to feel in control. This is the opposite of grace, opposite of the mission of love God gave in the garden where the abundant life-giving water flowed.
Reflect: Men know women talk, otherwise the king’s men would not have acted as they did. Are you a positive or negative force with your talking/gossip amongst the other women in your life? How can you build up the people around you with your words instead of tear them down?
Act: If you’re married or in a relationship, think of 5 things about your spouse/partner that you’re thankful for and either tell him or write him a note (and have him do the same!). And whether you’re single or married, look at yourself in the mirror with the dignity that Queen Vashti stood up for and ask for the river of grace to flood over you.
Believe you are worth it!