There was great celebration in the land of Shushan. The entire city was celebrating with the King who was going all out to show his great wealth and the beauty of his city to everyone.
All officials and nobles were invited to 180 days of music and dancing and laughter and rich foods. After the first six months of festivity, everyone in the fortress of Shusan was included on the VIP list for the 7 day feast at the palace that would close out the festivities.
The palace was beautifully decorated in blue, white and purple. There were gold and silver articles everywhere. There was food galore and alcohol in abundance.
The Bible tells us in Esther 1:10 that the king's heart was "merry with wine". Lay-man's term? He was drunk.
In his intoxicated state he decided that he wanted to show off his most valuable possession: Queen Vashti. He sent seven eunuchs to bring her to the ball to show off her crown and her beauty.
We've read the story many times. Some of us burned with indignation for Vashti. While some forgot about her in the bigger story of Esther. I'm guilty of having done both those things.
But, let's take a few minutes to really look into this story in the context of today's lesson:
Persian law at the time forbade men and women to intermingle in public. It would therefore have been unlawful for wives to appear with husbands at feasts. The queen was afforded a greater respect.
The text is not clear, but there are some scholars who believe that Vashti was asked to appear in just her crown.
If this was the case, can you imagine how shocked the women attending her ball must have been? Not to mention how shocked (and excited) the men who were at the king's ball would have been?
Regardless of whether he expected her to appear dressed or not, did the king know that he was asking her to act contrary to their custom? Of course he did! But as they say: "chicken merry, hawk deh near." Meaning, when we are most merry, danger catches us unaware.
King Ahasuerus' actions contradicted the principle found in Ephesians 5:25-29. He belittled Vashti's position as queen by treating her as just another possession. He showed neither love, nor respect for her.
She had received a direct order from her husband the king. Both his title and his relationship to her were reasons for her to obey. In other words, she should have obeyed him because he was her king. And, she should have obeyed him because he was her husband.
But this was a case where nothing she did would have been right.
Had Vashti gone to the feast, the king could have looked at her with disdain because she broke Persian custom. (Especially if she had shown up naked!) But by not going, she disobeyed her husband the king.
Vashti did not follow the principle of submission found in Ephesians 5:22-24.
Sometimes, there's no "right" way. As husbands and wives we need to bend our will to God's way.
Husbands need to love their wives in a genuine all-out way. If they put their wives ahead of themselves, wives would have no problems submitting (okay, okay less problems).
Us wives need to conduct ourselves in such a way that even if our husbands do not know God they can see him in us (I Peter 3:1, I Corinthians 7:16).
While we must be loyal to our husbands, our first loyalty is to God. We should do what pleases Him. We should not do anything that dishonors God. Even if it pleases our husbands.
Heavenly Father, help me to remember that I don't always have to be right. Help me to bring honor and glory to my husband by first bringing honor and glory to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
What other lessons can we take from Ahasuerus and Vashti's relationship? Share them with us in the comments section below.