King Lemuel’s mother passes on more sound advice. “When you are a king, do NOT drink wine.” The king needs to stay sober so he doesn’t get himself into trouble.
The first thing I want to ask regarding these instructions from a dedicated mother. Does she mean not for the king to drink ANY wine or not to get drunk on wine? From the reasons listed, I would assume that it is the latter, not to get drunk, rather than not drinking any wine at all.
Wine was an important part of the culture. If bible stories were the only thing we had to go on, one would think that wine was about the only drink they had. But they had the same kinds of natural drinks we have today; water, milk, fruit juice, and wine. I don’t remember any banquets where water was the drink served, or milk. And a meal with the king would be considered a banquet.
When we look at different banquets with kings, we see some examples of kings not following this advice. In the stories the kings weren’t drunk but their consumption of wine, and the company who was in attendance, set up a terrible outcome (for some).
The first banquet I want to take not of is one, really two, that Queen Esther served. She made sure there was plenty to eat AND drink for her two guests. King Ahasuerus was so moved by both the banquet and the wine that he promised Ester up to half of his kingdom. He made this promise both the nights Ester prepared banquets for him and Haman. When Ester finally made her request, he could not refuse. He was so enraged seeing Haman draped all over Queen Ester when he came back from thinking things over that he was READY to have Haman punished.
When Ester’s full request was made known, King Ahasuerus wasn’t able to grant it. He was unable to undo all the damage Haman had done but he was able to mitigate the damage by allowing the Jews to fight back.
I find it interesting that the night of the first banquet resulted in Haman having to honor Mordecai. And this right after Haman hatched his hangman’s plot against Mordecai. Haman built his own gallows between the banquets.
The second banquet I’m reminded of was one during Jesus’ lifetime. This banquet was attended by King Herod and all his nobles and military commanders. Herodias was the one to host this banquet as a birthday banquet for the king. It just occurred to me that her banquet followed Ester’s pattern; she had an ulterior motive in mind. They both had an interest in one man, but the result touched many more lives.
Herodias was after John the Baptist. She had failed in persuading the king to kill him on her account for he feared John. Herodias knew her husband’s character and she orchestrated things to put him in the middle of a trap he couldn’t easily escape from. Her choice of guests, food, wine and entertainment were crucial.
The guests were those who looked to the king for their direction. The food was wonderful. The wine KEPT FLOWING. And Salome would provide the enthralling dance.
Just as King Ahasuerus did, Herod also promised up to half of his kingdom to Salome as a reward. Salome didn’t have a request of her own but went to her mother to let her choose the ‘reward’. I have little doubt that Salome knew ahead of time what her mother wanted but she went through with the asking anyway. The request ended John the Baptist’s life that very night.
The king had made a wine induced promise in front of his nobles and military commanders. He didn’t want to honor the request but he felt he had no other choice. King Ahasuerus was happy to fulfill Queen Ester’s request, even though his promise was a wine induced promise too. The people of Israel were impacted by both wine induced promises.
I wonder how many of our leaders today make wine induced promises. I would expect it to be a fairly large number as it seems that drinking and entertaining are a BIG part of political events. Currying favor is also a BIG part of politics, just as it was for Queen Ester and Herodias.
I honestly don’t know what to take from our reading today for my own life. I was able to see the two events in a slightly different light but I am not a king, nor do I drink alcohol. Maybe I simply need to be more aware of what it is that I am using to influence those around me. Is it a godly influence or one of manipulation?
Queen Ester’s ‘manipulation’ was part of God’s plan to save His people from an advisory. Her being in the palace in the first place was part of His plan. She was not deceitful in her preparations or requests, any more than Samuel when he went to anoint David. Sometimes God calls for us to be shrewd, but NEVER deceitful.
Father God, thank You for opening up Your word for me. Thank You for bringing me personal meaning today too. I always wonder what it is You would have me learn each time we are together. You NEVER fail to bring me something from Your word. It may not be a “new revelation” to me but I can ALWAYS use a reminder. Thank You for the twist in the end. I didn’t see that lesson coming. Help me to remember the difference and keep on the right side of the line at all times.