When these days were completed, the king gave a banquet for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were in the fortress of Susa. It lasted for seven days and was held in the courtyard of the palace garden. The courtyard was beautifully decorated with white cotton curtains and blue hangings, which were fastened with white linen cords and purple ribbons to silver rings embedded in marble pillars. Gold and silver couches stood on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones.
Drinks were served in gold goblets of many designs, and there was an abundance of royal wine, reflecting the kingâs generosity.
Read the reflection
FEASTING IN GODâS DELIGHT
(slightly amended from âBeautiful - Lavish Devotions for Womenâ by Elissa MacPherson pg. 26)
Esther 1:5-7 A feast is different from a meal; there is a sense of special occasion, an expectation of celebration and pleasure. The finest food and drink is served; prepared carefully, with effort and chosen specifically. The berries will be sweeter, the apples juicier, the chocolate richer. This is a time to be cherished and savoured.
When our King throws a party, he does it in style. Like King Xerxes in the book of Esther, his celebration is âa tremendous display of opulent wealth and glory of his empireâ (Est.1:4) There are gold and silver couches, and wine served in golden goblets holding an abundance of royal wine. What a beautiful picture of the beauty, generosity and glory of the king. Our KING is God; not a god of miserly portion and scarcity. God is extravagant, lavish and his generosity is overflowing. Psalm 23:5 says, âMy cup overflowsâ. Imagine for a moment a golden goblet reflecting light from the sweet, ruby-red wine fragrant wine that fills and overflows and spills in ribbons, filling your senses and taste-buds. It is so abundant that it flows like a fountain before you where you can constantly refill your overflowing cup.
In Luke 22:20 wine is served with a special meal. On this occasion the king is the servant, pouring the wine to his disciples and in so doing, he is now giving a living picture of his overwhelming love being poured out, just as his own blood was poured out on the cross. His outpouring blood means we can feast with him for eternity. Isaiah 25:6 tells us he has planned a wonderful heavenly banquet for everyone, from the least to the greatest. He is a King who longs to feast with us. His deep desire is to provide beyond need; he longs to bless, give pleasure, joy, comfort and delight to his people in super-abundance like the wine that flowed at Cana.
Esther 1:8 says âThe only restriction on the drinking was that no one was compelled to take more that they wanted. But those who wished could have as much as they pleased, for the king had instructed his staff to let everyone decide this matter for themselves.â Our God invites you to His Feast.
Pause and reflect for a moment: How do you decide how much to receive from God? What is your response to the lavish feast God lays on the table of your life? What stops you from delighting excitedly like a child in his abundant gifting?
Perhaps like the story in Luke 14 when a magnificent feast was prepared and invitations sent out, we sometimes let the clutter of life fill our schedules with busyness. Then like the invited guests in the story we are tempted to decline the invite. There can be so much that is more important than God in our value system.
There are also spiritual dieters. They carefully control their appetite for God, restricting their intake for fear of how they might look to others if they indulge deeply in the fullness of God. These people pick and choose, nibbling at the edges of the banquet and taking only bite sized portions. Like dieters they often feel hungry with few reserves for times of crisis, then they are further tempted to criticize God for not providing for them.
Thirdly some people are fast food junkies. They like their spiritual food quick, easy, and loaded with sugar; they like convenient religion. They want only sweet blessings, to be entertained and cossetted with holy good feelings; they only want the bits of the Gospel that make them feel good but have no interest in it changing their daily lives. They reject a balanced life-giving transformative diet of holiness and when they are confronted with a hard patch in life that requires them to climb a spiritual mountain they lack fitness and crash as if coming off a sugar high. They donât have the spiritual nutrition to sustain themselves through the marathon of life.
Fourthly there are the hungry. Jesus said, âBlessed are the hungry âŚ and those who thirstâŚâ. In Luke 14:21, the servant is told to invite the cripples, the lame, the blind. Those who know in the light of God that they are broken understand their deep need for God. They come to the table of the Lord hungry, starving, craving and desperate. They bring to the Host not just their scrubbed up tidy selves, but everything they are. They surrender themselves fully to the King aware of the awesome greatness before them and powerfully grateful for everything they receive. Like David they cry out from their depths,â As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God.â
In the book of Esther Queen Vashti refused to come before the King and lost her position of favour. Esther was prepared as a bride and put on a special diet because her simple diet (our equivalent of baked beans or garlic) would have produced an unpleasant odour. The purpose of her new diet is to internally cleanse her for the King. Sometimes our inner heart can get a bit stinky too. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus describes a healthy diet; âPeople need more that bread for life; they must feed on every word of Godâ. Jesus, the Word becomes our healthy diet, our luscious food, which fills us with health, energy and strength.
When Esther is presented to the King (2:15) she asks only for what he suggests. She desired what he desired, received what he offered with joy and thanksgiving, and waited on him as a handmaid. She wasnât fussy, greedy or picky; she was deeply respectful of his wisdom and position. How did the king respond to her reverence, trust and honour? He loved her and delighted in her. He placed a crown on her head and had another banquet to celebrate.
It is a basic principle that those who trust in the desires, wisdom and judgement of the king, receive blessings from the king. St Augustine said, âLove God and do what you willâ. If our love of God is real and deep, then obedience, faithfulness, right thinking and right actions will flow irresistibly from that love. Each one of us, like Esther is being called to the banquet with God our King and to allow ourselves to delight in his delighting in us. That is worship, praise, reverence, gratitude, thankfulness, and wonder at the goodness of God, the wonder of salvation. From it flows right living and the desire to share the Gospel to all those around us. If you are not hungry and thirsty for God, pray for that gift today.
God bless, Bev.
Share from these reflection starters:
What strikes you most from the Scripture above?
What is your response to hearing that God lays a lavish feast on
the table of your life?
What stops you from delighting excitedly like a child in his
How cautious are you about receiving the fullness of God's love for
you and why?
As you are comfortable, pray for each other now to be more open to
receive from God and to experience his delight in you.
Conclude by praying for each other
Final prayer together:
Lord, thank you for all mothers.
For the new ones, who endure sleepless nights with infants in arms.
For the busy ones, who juggle the pressures of home and family life.
For the steadfast ones, who nurture and care for
our special vulnerable children.
For the patient ones, who always seek to forgive
and engage with their pre-teens.
For the persistent ones, who cleverly find new ways
to connect with their mini-adults.
For the single ones, who parent alone
and even in loneliness care and nurture with great love.
For the mother aunts, who step in
to cradle and care for nieces and nephews.
For grandmas, who love and support their precious grandchildren.
For foster mums who gather and nurture the vulnerable ones.
For the mums who give far beyond their own resources,
who overcome disability to cherish and love.
Thank you Lord for all your beautiful mothers.
Help us to support them and keep them in our prayers.
May you bless them now on their special day.