Summary: Five practical precepts for making good choices based on Esther chapter two.
Some of my favorite reads online are the stories of dumb criminals.
Last week a masked man actually stood in line to rob a bank!
Police in Stow, Ohio, near Akron, say 24-year-old Feliks Goldshtein of Highland Heights was arrested minutes after his mask-wearing episode on Thursday, following a brief car chase.
Police say the teller asked the man to take off the mask before being served. At that point the man displayed what turned out to be a toy gun and told the teller to give him all the money.
Police Captain Rick Myers says it’s unusual for a masked robber to wait in line at a bank.
Goldshtein was being held at the Summit County Jail Friday on charges of aggravated robbery and failure to comply with a police order. He had an afternoon court appearance scheduled.
We’re not dumb criminals, but we’ve all done dumb things. We’ve all made foolish choices. Like King Xerxes in Esther chapter 1, which we considered last week in the 1st part of this series, we’ve all been angry, frustrated, depressed, and even misled by bitter advice, which led us to make some pretty dumb decisions.
The question we’ll answer today from Scripture is “How do you make good decisions?”
The book of Esther is a great read about two kinds of choices and two kinds of people: people who make wise choices and people who make the other kind. One of our goals in life should be to become people who make good choices because a lot rides on the choices we make. The course our life takes, to a large degree, depends on the choices we make.
But before we get to the biblical precepts on this subject let’s begin with the decision-making track record of King Xerxes and what we can learn from it. In chapter one of the book of Esther, Xerxes blew it when it came to making a good decision. Let’s pick up the story line on him in chapter two of Esther.
Later, when King Xerxes was not so angry, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and his order about her. 2 Then the king’s personal servants suggested, "Let a search be made for beautiful young girls for the king. 3 Let the king choose supervisors in every state of his kingdom to bring every beautiful young girl to the palace at Susa. They should be taken to the women’s quarters and put under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch in charge of the women. And let beauty treatments be given to them.4 Then let the girl who most pleases the king become queen in place of Vashti." The king liked this idea, so he did as they said. Esther 2:1-4 (NCV)
Four years have passed since the events of chapter one. (Esther 2:16) During this time Xerxes had been away on a military campaign against the Greeks, lost, and had come home in humiliation. But he didn’t have a queen to come home to - because he had banished Vashti from his presence. He regretted his rash actions but one of the quirky fine points of Persian law was, once an order was enacted it could not be rescinded. (Esther 1:19)
It’s so good to know that God doesn’t operate this way! He doesn’t always change the consequences of our actions but He does give us second chances to make good choices! He works with us as we make new and better choices.
Since the king can’t undo his dumb decision to get rid of Queen Vashti, his counselors suggest gathering the most beautiful women in the empire to find a suitable replacement for her. They’re probably quick to suggest this because, if King Xerxes did try to buck the Persian tradition of not allowing laws to be changed and Vashti was restored to the thrown, they’re gooses were probably cooked. They were the nincompoops who recommended she be deposed. Which brings us to the first precept on decision making.
1. Be cautious of advice from biased parties.
If you’re going to make a major purchase don’t take everything the salesman says at face value. Read up on the item you’re thinking about purchasing. Read what consumer advocates are saying because they are less biased.
Since we already talked about the foolishness of taking advice from bitter people in the first installment of this series we won’t expand on this here. Just remember that it is always wise to consider the source of your advice. Getting advice is good. Getting it from the wrong source leads to failure.
2. Don’t base decisions on outward appearances alone.
The recommendation of the king’s advisers was to basically pick the prettiest girl to be his next wife, not that we should mistake this search for a new wife for the king as a beauty contest. These young women were not willing participants and God didn’t condone this methodology. The Hebrew language suggests they were taken involuntarily. Against their will they became a part of the royal harem.