I’ve been reading in Esther this week (along with most of the teen girls in my church), it’s one of my
Go To books when I’m in between where to read. I love Esther.
- She was wise.
- She was submissive.
- She was humble.
- She was sacrificial.
But today’s post isn’t about Esther at all. It’s about her predecessor, Queen Vashti.
This is a woman who was queen of Persia, her husband being a very proud, arrogant and violent conquerer and ruler.
This story begins with a description of King Ahasuerus’s wide reign and power. In the 3rd year of his reign he decides he wants to show off his riches and glory to all the world! Now, he doesn’t just decide to hold a banquet, or even a festival. He holds a 180 celebration! 6 MONTHS!!
At the end of his Big Display, he decides that a week long banquet will be held, get this, FOR ALL THE PEOPLE in the capital city of Susa. This is not just for the royalty or nobility, this was for the entire city. He goes all-out with the decor (putting Martha Stewart to shame) and the festivities.
Right along with this, Vashti holds her own banquet for all the women in the palace. I’m not completely sure who this entailed, but I’m sure that she was wanting to be as generous and opulent as the King in her own party.
At the end of the 7 days, when the King is feeling “merry” after drinking all this time, he calls his wife in to display her beauty with her royal crown to all the “people and princes”.
But she refused.
There is a lot of speculation here. Some say she was actually commanded to come NAKED except for her crown and she, in modesty and purity, refused. I never thought that the text upheld that view and here is a quote from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:
“Though it was common in the culture for dancers to entertain the king’s guests, this interpretation is inconsistent with Persian customs that “the queen, even more than the wives of other men, was secluded from the public gaze”.
Now, I never quite got her response. She knew what her husband was like. She knew the absolute despot that he was. She knew the law that she couldn’t even come into his presence without being summoned for fear of death! WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?? We will never know. But we know how he responded.
The thing that I always found absolutely fascinating in this whole story is the REASON given for removing Vashti.
“Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also all the princes and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus.“For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women causing them to look with contempt on their husbands by saying, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in to his presence, but she did not come.’ “This day the ladies of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s conduct will speak in the same way to all the king’s princes, and there will be plenty of contempt and anger.” Esther 1:16b-18
“When the king’s edict which he will make is heard throughout all his kingdom, great as it is, then all women will give honor to their husbands, great and small.” verse 20
“So he sent letters to all the king’s provinces, to each province according to its script and to every people according to their language, that every man should be the master in his own house and the one who speaks in the language of his own people. ” verse 22
Vashti didn’t just disrespect her husband. She didn’t just disrespect the King. She disrespected ALL the husbands in the realm. She was teaching, by her example, that all the wives in the kingdom should disrespect their husbands. Remember, this wasn’t a quiet family party, this was a celebration where the entire capital city was invited! This was the end of a 6 month Open House displaying the King’s power, might and wealth. You can be sure that the gossip vine was alive and well in Susa and by morning every single woman would have heard what Vashti did.
But they would now also hear what the King’s response was. With the moral of this story to the women in that kingdom being: don’t diss your husbands!
How can WE learn from Vashti’s choice? We each have spheres of influence that we don’t even see. Ways we touch people’s lives that we don’t know about. How does the way WE treat our husbands affect those in our unseen influence? What message do we send as women making a claim to godliness? Do we live a life of respect and honor toward our husbands? Or do we show disdain for their authority?
Let’s take some time today and examine our hearts, our actions and our speech – in light of how we are INFLUENCING others around us in their respect for the authorities in their lives.
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