Esther 1:9 – 12 “Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes. On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him – Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas – to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.”
Ahhh, the plot thickens. A new character is introduced, although we will never know her very well. Vashti was the queen. She was very beautiful. And she was her husband’s prize “possession”.
Let’s review the story a bit, shall we? King Xerxes has spent the last six months showing off his vast wealth to all his noblemen. He has spent the last week pulling out all the stops, in an endless display of food, drink, and finery. Everyone was drunk. He was drunk, too.
So now, in his drunken state, he decided that his beautiful queen would be the final jewel in his crown, to show off to his constituents. They knew he was rich. They knew he was powerful. But once they saw Vashti, they would know that he was the most manly in every way. They would surely acknowledge him as the most superior of all men, when they saw his queen.
So he called for her. She was off in the ladies’ quarters, playing hostess to all the wives. She knew that boys would be boys. She knew they were drunk. Xerxes had a sizable harem, and he had probably shown them off as well. But she was the queen. She was a lady. And she had no intention of going into a room full of drunk men, just so they could ogle her. It wouldn’t be proper. It was disrespectful of him to even suggest such a thing. So she refused.
Apparently, she had that right, for no one forced her. But her decision caused her husband to lose face. He had spent six months showing off his power. He had made a public announcement that his queen was coming, so they could all look at her. And now, this supposedly powerful man had been knocked down a notch or two . . . by a woman! You can imagine his embarrassment and humiliation. You can imagine his anger.
Now friends, I think Vashti was really given a bum rap. Given the circumstances, I might have done the same thing! But had she really thought things out, she might have avoided some real heartache. Had she thought about all her husband had at stake, she might have laid aside her pride for a few moments and done what he asked. He was wrong. But she didn’t have to humiliate him in front of everyone. One might argue that he was planning to humiliate her, and that is a valid argument. But in his (drunken) eyes, he was merely showing off his lovely queen.
Many people have suggested many lessons from this passage. But I still believe that we can’t read too much into the behavior of these people. They were pagans. They weren’t behaving properly. As I read about this marriage, it drives home all the more that God’s ways are best. One husband, who loves his wife as Christ loved the church, and laid his life down for her. One wife, who treats her husband with respect (Ephesians 5:22 – 33).
I’m so glad that God always knows best. Aren’t you?
Dear Father, Please help me to love my spouse, and all those around me, and treat them with respect.
Interesting thoughts about Vashti, Renae. I would really like to know exactly what she was thinking and feeling that day.
I grew up in a part of the world where polygamy was the norm. It might work for some people, but I know I would not be any good at it! I wouldn’t have been a bit happy about the harem, either!
Yes, God’s ways are best, and I have so much to be thankful for.
Hi Jeanette! We really don’t know much about her, do we? She will go down in history as the woman who wouldn’t do what her husband told her to do. I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story than that. She could have been haughty and disrespectful, or she could have just been embarrassed at the thought of all those drunk men looking at her like a piece of meat. But one thing we do know . . . God was there. And He had a plan! 😉
There are a lot of people in the Bible who only seem to have a ‘bit part’ – they just drop in and are never seen again. But if it hadn’t been for Queen Vashti’s refusal, we wouldn’t have met Esther, and without spoiling the story, she turned out to have a really big part to play!
Sometimes people drop in to our own lives, and seem to be of little consequence, yet when we look back, we realise that without them, we would never have set off on a particular course.
It’s all part of the plan!
Well said, Jackie! 😉
Mmm, I think the last comment with people dropping in our lives being part of a plan was what made me understand where you were heading.
Else my sympathy was and is much on both queen Vashti and the later queen Esther’s place.
I mean how small must king Xerxes really have felt, being a show off guy like this and treating his wife like a piece of meat.
One should think if you had more than everybody in the world of anything you would be content. Maybe that’s why the tyrants and billionaire of this world this are craving for more.
Things are not enough and will never fill the hollow gap instead of God.
I feel very childish speaking like this, but this is how I react to superficial behavior, be it of a king or the next door guy.
I like the way your writing make me feel engaged and how it both enlightens and shows new sides of known issues.
Looking forwards to the continuance.
Hi Felisol. I know just how you feel. I feel kind of sorry for Vashti as well. But if things had not played out the way they did, then Esther might not have been queen, and the Jewish people might not have been saved! Maybe we (I) can remember that, next time I feel that I have gotten a “bum rap.” When we go through difficult, unfair times, we never know how God may be using our lives as part of a bigger plan.
I’m reminded of the old hymn that says, “We will understand it better, by and by.”
I just love all the drama in this story, don’t you? 😉