TENNYSON, THE PRINCESS…(The Bible’s Impact on Literature [August 7])


Is there a time when you shouldn’t obey what you are being asked or told to do? Are you prepared for the consequences of that decision? How severe might the outcome be and how broad might the impact be? How do you determine if the risk is worth it? How do you know which response is right? Do you have a standard or a measure to help you make decisions that are good, are right, and are just? Do you have a standard or measure that helps you ensure you are walking out life in alignment to God’s will?

Today’s reading comes from Esther 1

The King’s Banquets

1Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, 2in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel, 3in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, 4while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days. 5And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. 6There were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods and marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones. 7Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. 8And drinking was according to this edict: “There is no compulsion.” For the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired. 9Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus.

Queen Vashti’s Refusal

10On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. 12But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.
13Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, 14the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom): 15″According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs?” 16Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ 18This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. 19If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” 21This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. 22He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.

–from Esther 1

Although the book is about Esther, have you ever considered Queen Vashti? What about her decision to refuse to go to the king? What about the impact having refused the king’s command? What do you think drove her decision? Do you think she considered the consequences? Do you think she might have had a different response had she known?

Today’s devotional from The Global Impact Bible on the theme of the Bible’s impact on literature brings us the topic of Tennyson, The Princess. We learn in today’s devotional how there are many retellings of the story of Esther. We also learn that there aren’t many about Vashti. We learn in today’s devotional how she wasn’t forgotten by Alfred, Lord Tennyson where he mentions her in his narrative poem The Princess.

She paused, and added with a haughtier smile
‘And as to precontracts, we move, my friend,
At no man’s beck, but know ourself and thee,
O Vashti, noble Vashti! Summoned out
She kept her state, and left the drunken king
To brawl at Shushan underneath the palms.’

–from The Princess

The parallel between Vashti and Ida, the poem’s heroine was in their saying no. In the poem, we learn that Ida says no to marrying the prince so that she may start a university instead.

His name was Gama; cracked and small his voice,
But bland the smile that like a wrinkling wind
On glassy water drove his cheek in lines;
A little dry old man, without a star,
Not like a king: three days he feasted us,
And on the fourth I spake of why we came,
And my bethrothed. ‘You do us, Prince,’ he said,
Airing a snowy hand and signet gem,
‘All honour. We remember love ourselves
In our sweet youth: there did a compact pass
Long summers back, a kind of ceremony—
I think the year in which our olives failed.
I would you had her, Prince, with all my heart,
With my full heart: but there were widows here,
Two widows, Lady Psyche, Lady Blanche;
They fed her theories, in and out of place
Maintaining that with equal husbandry
The woman were an equal to the man.
They harped on this; with this our banquets rang;
Our dances broke and buzzed in knots of talk;
Nothing but this; my very ears were hot
To hear them: knowledge, so my daughter held,
Was all in all: they had but been, she thought,
As children; they must lose the child, assume
The woman: then, Sir, awful odes she wrote,
Too awful, sure, for what they treated of,
But all she is and does is awful; odes
About this losing of the child; and rhymes
And dismal lyrics, prophesying change
Beyond all reason: these the women sang;
And they that know such things—I sought but peace;
No critic I—would call them masterpieces:
They mastered me. At last she begged a boon,
A certain summer-palace which I have
Hard by your father’s frontier: I said no,
Yet being an easy man, gave it: and there,
All wild to found an University
For maidens, on the spur she fled; and more
We know not,—only this: they see no men,
Not even her brother Arac, nor the twins
Her brethren, though they love her, look upon her
As on a kind of paragon; and I
(Pardon me saying it) were much loth to breed
Dispute betwixt myself and mine: but since
(And I confess with right) you think me bound
In some sort, I can give you letters to her;
And yet, to speak the truth, I rate your chance
Almost at naked nothing.’

–from The Princess

So how about you? Do you have a standard that you live by? Do you have an immovable measure that helps you make your yes be yes and your no be no? Do you have something that helps you know the difference between right and wrong? Do you have something that helps you live out life in a way that is just and so that justice is served?

For me it is the Bible. For me it is pursuing Jesus and His will and His way for my life. I say yes to Jesus and so it help give me the wisdom and discernment into how to live my life. I am sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that I can not respond out of my human desires but out of God’s plan and purpose. I wish I could say I get it right every time but I can’t. I wish I could say I have gotten it right when prompted by the Spirit in the past but I can’t. I am getting better and the strong my relationship with Jesus gets the more clearly I hear the Spirit who reveals Jesus’s will and purpose and plan for my life in a way that will bring God praise, honor, and glory.

Let’s pray…

Prayer of Salvation Example

For those who prayed this for the first time or as a recommitment to God, I celebrate with the angels in heaven that you made the greatest decision of your life. Will you leave a comment so that I know and pray for you? Will you leave a comment or question so we can have a conversation? Look for a local church that is a Bible believing, Bible preaching church that will be able to come alongside you and help you in this journey called life.


Heavenly Father,
I thank You Lord for this new day and for everything in it. I praise You Lord for the incredible purpose and plan You have for me. Help me Lord to be sensitive to the prompting of the Spirit so that my response will not be of my flesh but aligned to the directions of the Spirit. Help me Lord to live out today and all of my life in a way that will bring You the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’s name. Amen.

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