Verse of the Day Devotion. Esther 1:12
“But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.” – Esther 1:12
At the beginning of the Book of Esther we see that the king Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes, hosted a huge party. “In the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days.” Esther 1:3-4. At that time, rulers used banquets to display their power and greatness, as well as to help maintain the faithfulness and loyalty of their subjects. It has been said that as many as 15,000 guests may have been present, however, the number at this feast is unknown. For 180 days, he showed off to his guests the greatness of his kingdom, including the splendor of his belongings. Wanting to show what one possesses is natural but prideful. We see this in the second Book of Kings. “And Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.” 2 Kings 20:13.
Next, we see that Queen Vashti gave a separate feast for the women in the palace. This was a common custom of the Persians to hold a separate feast for the men and the women. After seven days, both the king and his guests appear to be somewhat drunk. “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at.” Esther 1:10-11. There are many who believe this order included her with only her crown on, with no clothes on at all. However, there is nothing here that expresses this thought. It is likely they were to bring the queen in the regal crown, high pointed turban, thus in her entire royal apparel in order to show her beauty to the prince, as well as to all the people. Xerxes was desirous of glory, not only because of his riches, but also because of his beautiful wife, where she would become the gazing-stock of a drunken company, that, so to speak, she should make a show of herself to the lascivious eyes of so many.
And because of this, she refused to go to Xerxes feast. “But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.” Esther 1:12. It appears she did not desire to be an object to be used to please those men who were drunk on the king’s wine. For as she walked about them, who knows what their thoughts and desires would be, and this she would be humiliated. And I believe this is why she refused. Now this angered the king greatly. So He calls the wise men to him to help with this issue, asking them what should be done to Vashti. First, they say something must be done in order to keep this from spreading. “For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come. This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty.” Esther 1:17-18. After this, they recommended and he agreed, that she was not to go before the king again. “If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.” Esther 1:19. In other words, they advised him to replace her. And he agreed.
What can we see from this? This may not be the major idea here, but Vashti was not going to do what she knew would humiliate herself, and/or do that which would tempt the men to think wrong thoughts. We must have the same mindset that she did. We must make sure that we are not being used by the enemy to tempt others to do wrong. It is so easy to do, and thus we need to ensure that what we do does not tempt others to sin. We should do all we can to live Godly lives both before our brothers and sisters, as well as the unsaved. Let us be a light in this world, showing the love of God to all and exhibiting before them the way He wants everyone to live.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.