. . .when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him. . .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. (NIV) Esther 1:10-12
The book of Esther, like Exodus, deals specifically with persecution of the Hebrew people. The book of Esther, like Song of Songs, does not mention God, but His fingerprints are all over it. This book of the Bible clearly teaches God’s providential care of His people. The fast-moving events that seem to be under the control of men such as King Xerxes and Haman prove in the end to be God-directed for the benefit of His people. Chuck Swindoll describes it this way: “Though God may at times seem distant, and though He is invisible to us, He is always invincible. When God calls the shots, nobody can stop the action!”
The book begins with King Xerxes throwing the party of parties. He gives a great banquet to display his wealth and glory. All his nobles and the military and political leaders of Persia and Media are present. Historical sources confirm huge numbers of guests, as many as 69,574, at banquets put on by the Persian kings. For a full 6 months Xerxes and his guests revel in indulgent eating, excessive drinking, and admiring the vast wealth of the empire. If 6 months of partying isn’t enough, another party is given for all the men from the greatest to the least in the city of Susa. Most likely, tens of thousands more come to join in the festivities.
At the same time that the men are being entertained by the king, Queen Vashti gives a banquet for the women in the royal palace. An unexpected pivotal moment occurs when the King, who is most likely drunk, decides to show off another of his prizes. . .the physical beauty of his queen. Xerxes orders her to come into the banquet hall wearing her royal headdress for his drunken guests to enjoy and envy. Some scholars suggest that meant that Vashti was to be unveiled before the guests, while other scholars think it meant wearing only to her crown.
The brave queen refuses. She chooses to not degrade herself before the king’s drunken guests. The consequences of her decision: disgrace and dismissal. She loses her position of queen. But, she is brave enough to say “No! This is blatantly wrong!”
When you are faced with doing something that is blatantly wrong how do you react? Will you compromise more when your job or your reputation is at stake? Are you willing to take a stand, the right stand, no matter the consequences? Queen Vashti stood up to the king. Would you have done the same?