|"Vashti's Defiance" - Alexandre Cabanel|
TO CHEW ON: "But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command brought by his eunuchs therefore the king was furious and his anger burned within him." Esther 1:12
Do we blame Queen Vashti for refusing to come before the drunken King Ahasuerus and his male guests to show off her beauty? I can think of several reasons for her refusal. Maybe such a debauch had happened before and been uncomfortable for her. Maybe it was a bad time for her to leave her own party. Or perhaps she had an independent streak that simply resisted being ordered around.
Whatever it was, her refusal ended badly. The king wasn't too drunk to ask for the input of others. His coterie of male advisors told him to be decisive with her for fear her attitude would spread to other women in the realm—and that would never do in their male-dominant culture.
It's easy for us, looking at this event through our western civilization lenses, to sympathize with Queen Vashti. And yet the king and his advisors had a point. My Bible's notes contain this observation on Vashti's actions:
"Leadership involves both responsibilities and influence. In her rebellion Vashti ignores her responsibility to her authority King Ahasuerus" - A. Joy Dawson, notes on Esther, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 634.
We can take away at least two lessons from these opening scenes of Esther:
1. When we are in positions of leadership our actions have the potential to affect and influence others, and we need to carefully consider their effect.
2. If we feel civil disobedience is really warranted, we should be prepared for consequences.
PRAYER: Dear God, please give me the wisdom to know when defying civil authority is warranted. At all other times help me to have a compliant spirit that acknowledges Your will and design in placing over me the rulers of Your choice. Amen.
MORE: More about Esther, the book
We will be reading all of the book of Esther in the coming days so here are a few facts about this little book.
- The author is unknown. But it was a Jew, familiar with Persian words and customs. Mordecai or Ezra may have been the author.
- It was written shortly after 465 B.C. and the story takes place over four years starting with the third year of King Ahasuerus (also called Xerxes') reign.
- A unique feature of the book is that the name of God is never mentioned.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.