Esther 1:15 – 18 “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?’ he asked. ‘She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.’ Then Memucan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, ‘Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ This very day the Persian and Median women of nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.”
Vashti, Vashti. Look what you have done now. You’ve got these poor men shaking in their sandals, worried that all of the wives of the land will start standing up to their husbands. I wonder if you were trying to be the early poster girl for women’s rights.
But it is clear that these men had been drinking. I can just imagine their slurred speech as they said, “We’ve gotta do some damage control! If we don’t do something, our wives will start treating us this way, and then where will we be? Women need to respect their husbands, or (hiccup!) else!”
If they had been thinking clearly, they would have known that respect is earned. It cannot be taken by force. Sure, you might be able to scare someone half to death, but then you will only have their fear. You still won’t have their respect, because respect can’t be demanded. It must be given freely.
The funny thing is, we will never earn much respect, if respect in itself is our goal. If our ambition is to be greater than those around us, we usually won’t get very far. It is more often through humility, through consistently putting others’ needs before our own, that we will earn people’s respect. In order to be great, we must make ourselves of no account.
Hmmmm . . . this is sounding familiar. Centuries after this scene played out in Xerxes’ palace, Jesus spoke these words: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all,” (Mark 9:35). Poor Xerxes. If only he had known, he might have considered his queen’s feelings before asking her to humiliate herself before a bunch of drunken men. If only he had known, he might have put her feelings above his own desires. If he had, I’ll bet he would not have been humiliated on that day. And if he had consistently considered her feelings, I’ll bet she would have moved heaven and earth to show the respect she had for him.
If only he had known.
Dear Father, Thank You for Your wisdom. Please help me to put others’ needs before my own, and to always treat those around me with respect.