Ahasuerus was King in Babylon; “In the third year of his reign, he made a feast to all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him.” Proud of Queen Vashti, he called for her to be brought; he would show the people and the princes her beauty. (Esther 1:3). But Vashti the Queen refused to come at the king’s bidding. As Queen, she had a role in the government. As Michelle Obama supports the President, Vashti should have supported her husband at this state function.

Her refusal was defiance and disloyalty to her husband, who happened to be an absolute monarch. He was embarrassed being undermined in front of all. Understandably, he was angry. He asked his counselors what he should do. Almost immediately she was deposed as queen, banished forever from the court by a newly enacted law. Her decision to defy the king before all the people, nobles and princes brought an unchangeable consequence.

A law was written that would affect her and every woman in the kingdom: King Ahasuerus “sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house . . .” (Esther 1:22) (emphasis mine)

A man’s rule, whether good or bad, now had the force and effect of written law. Therefore, any man inclined to control by cruelty now had the law behind him. Good men would always be good. But the law now permitted and enforced control of men over women–and the bad ones could be justified by it.

Vashti’s reckless decision affected every woman. The stated expectation of the law was “all the wives shall give to their husbands honor, both to great and small.” (Esther 1:20). True honoring comes from an inward choice. Women who choose to honor do so from good character. Honor demanded by law does not change her heart.

What if your husband is asking for help at a “legitimate state function” as Ahasuerus was? Rather than challenging the man we loved enough to marry, we can choose to honor and respect him. By stepping up and growing in vision we assume our personal leading role in the romance. Cherish the freedom to choose your way. Consider the consequences of every decision. Rather than a reckless self centered existence, give honor to your husband without it being demanded. Give it because he is your head. He, like you, is in the image of God.

Then take his arm with pride and walk into the future.

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  1. Tonya says:

    I’ve heard this taught that Vashti refused to come to the banquet because it was basically a room full of drunken men (7 days of “banqueting”). Since all she was asked to do was come and show everyone how beautiful she was, it seems a bit foolish that she refused, even if the reason above was true. They certainly were not going to touch her.

    Sometimes when our husbands ask us to do things we do not want to do, particularly in a public situation, a woman needs to look ahead into the future (sometimes near, sometimes far) and quickly determine the consequences of obeying or not, honoring or not. Thankfully our husbands are kind and thoughtful and would probably not ask us to do something we would find offensive. Sometimes though, an appeal is all that’s needed to change a man’s mind so that he sees things in a different light…

    • Lizzie says:

      Your comment, “Sometimes an appeal is all that’s needed” is perfect. This is what Esther did later in the story. She had respect for the king’s position, and approached him with courage. It is what we often need, though it feels safer to stay quiet. Esther spoke up though her life would be in danger. At times the appeal takes all the courage we can muster.

      We all have our own assumptions about what the Bible doesn’t explicitly say. I assumed that even though this feast of Ahasuerus was seven days in length that the heads-of-state in attendance weren’t necessarily in a stupor. A sense of foreboding or threat to the Queen by drunken nobles is not apparent to me in the text. The rest of the Book of Esther shows King Ahasuerus to be a fair minded man. My view is that his indignation and fury when Vashti refused him indicates disrespect and disloyalty from her.

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