Lessons from Wisdom: The Art of Appeal

July 4, 2008 at 7:26 pm (Articles, Godly Living, Submission, W.O.W.) (, , , , , )

The contrast between the fates of Esther and Vashti is as wide as the chasm between their respective upbringings. Tradition tells us Vashti was born into royalty. Scripture tells us she fell in disgrace from the highest position a woman of her time could have held. Her crown was bestowed on one “more worthy”—little Esther the orphan Jewess.

One thing they held in common: beauty. It could not have been her beauty that bought Esther the favor Vashti had lost. It was her attitude—a deep desire to please the King. Summarized: submission.

Esther’s submission did not equal allowing herself to be trampled on. She recognized who her authorities were, and offered submission to them, receiving their protection in return. Submission didn’t mean she had to keep her mouth shut and never express her concerns or doubts or fears—or seek to save her life. The story of Esther showcases her submission in a sticky situation, one requiring her action in making an appeal to the King: an art we would do well to learn.

I have not been summoned (Esther 4:11)

When Mordecai’s urgent command came to the Queen, she answered with an explanation of the situation—she understood the King’s rules, his demands and the protocol that surrounded him. She had taken time, made the effort to study and understand his work, his schedule and even his own preferences. She understood a man who was known to swing to extremes. She understood that to go before him would be to threaten his authority. Go before him she must. Present unpleasant facts, she must. And, she must do it in a manner that would be pleasing to the King.

Esther put on her royal robes (Esther 5:1)

Instead of immediately flying to the King, tearing her hair, wailing, distressed, Esther took time to compose her thoughts, her heart and to prepare herself to be a lady. The King had been proud of Vashti’s beauty. He was proud of Esther’s. She would come to him in such a way as to make him glad and proud to see her. She would seek to be pleasing to him.

When the King saw Esther (Esther 5:2)

Even robed as Queen, Esther did not waltz in and demand an audience. She didn’t shout, “We need to talk!” Instead, she stood quietly, waiting for the King’s pleasure, outside his rooms. Clothed with care, her face earnest, yet not downcast in his presence, she obtained the favor she craved, and accepted it graciously.

If it pleases the King (Esther 5:4)

The first words out of her mouth betrayed her heart—“If it pleases you.” Submission. Humility. Vashti had been banished for disregarding the King’s pleasure, for denying his authority. Esther’s attitude made it obvious that her matter was urgent and her heart humble.

I’ve prepared a banquet (Esther 5:4)

The King had shown her grace, spared her life and now asked her petition, but Esther would not put him on the spot or shame him by making her demand in front of a court of attendants. Her appeal would be put to the King in privacy. She employed another pleasure—the King loved banquets—to set a tone of relaxation and ease in which to make her request.

I would not have troubled the King (Esther 7:4)

At last Esther could make her request. Quickly and concisely, she stated the issue. No accusations against the King for allowing such a monstrosity. No reprimands for having never asked who were her people. No anger at his having not consulted her. Then her addition, “if it had been anything less, I would not have troubled you.” A demonstration of her understanding of his busyness, her appreciation of his interest and time in listening to her plea. Even at this point, Esther did not tell the King what he should do. She only made her request for her life and those of her people.

The success of Esther’s appeal was almost nauseating. She gained favor, not because she was manipulative, like Haman, or demanded her own way, like Vashti, but because she understood her King and made her appeal in such a way that it appealed to him. She sought to please him, and in her desire he recognized submission. Her interests became his.

Friends seem aghast when they hear that I frequently e-mail my father—particularly requests or appeals. It sounds odd to us to think of Esther throwing two banquets just to ask the King for her life. Submission doesn’t mean you can never express something contrary to the plans of your husband or father—your man. It simply means you seek to please him. You seek his goals. You understand his desires, his pleasures, his rules. You work to achieve these to the best of your ability. When you come with a request, you come in a way that he can appreciate. I e-mail my father because he is very visual. He likes to have everything laid out logically in front of him where he can come back to it and consider it. He likes to have time to think it over, without an expectant face waiting for an answer, without extra people listening in on his reply. He likes to know why it’s important, what will be the effects, what will be the constraints. Esther threw banquets because the King loved banquets. He needed time to relax, time to calm down.

Your man may not be a King with weighty matters of state, but you can crown him with your devotion. He may not be my father, who likes a written proposal, but you can learn his preferences and seek to honor them. Esther’s wisdom was in understanding her man—his goals, desires, pleasures and even what he took pride in. Her discretion was in seeking a private audience to explain her dilemma, restraining from offering accusations or counsel. Her beauty was in humbly imploring the King’s favor and quietly awaiting his verdict.

Vashti had refused a summons to King Ahasuerus court, mocking him, and brought disaster upon herself. Esther appeared uncalled, risking her life—yet found favor because she’d learned the art of appeal.

Read the story: Queen Esther: If It Pleases the King

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