By Hannah Ng’uni
“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
This weeks’ bold Bible woman is Esther later known as Queen Esther. To fully appreciate her journey, we need to build some context. In chapter 1, we are introduced to a wealthy Persian King Ahasuerus who reigned over 127 provinces. There were still several Jews under Persian rule at the time.
In his third year, the king hosted feast lasting a total of 187 days at the palace, that is some feasting! On the last day, in a drunken state he commanded some of his princes to bring his wife Queen Vashti to show her beauty to the officials gathered but she declined. This displeased the king which lead him to consult men skilled in law about what he could do because the queen disobeyed the command. Likely out of embarrassment and to maintain respect in his kingdom. As per his advisors, he decides to dethrone her and accepted to make a decree that men should rule their households so ‘all wives will honour their husbands, both great and small’ (vs. 20-22). According to the Persians, the law could not be altered even by the king.
Before Esther comes into the picture, I would like us to consider the woman in today’s chapter, Queen Vashti, from a different perspective to what she was portrayed here – a disobedient wife and bad example to the others.
When she received the request, she was placed in a difficult position; go out and parade herself in front of drunken men or refuse and face the consequences. We are not told in the Bible why she refused; some commentaries suggest due to the nature of the event, her display may have involved lewd behaviour as the king wanted to show off her beauty. It is unlikely he would have made such an unreasonable request had he not been in a drunken state. What I see is that Queen Vashti made a bold decision to maintain her modesty and dignity even at the cost of her royal position (Esther 1:19), she could not bring herself to dishonouring her body and comprise her values. Though I imagine it was not a decision made lightly.
As a woman in today’s society, you may find yourself faced with a decision that, if you say ‘yes’ may lead you to compromise your faith, dignity, morals, values, modesty etc or cost you something e.g. loss of a job, business opportunity, friendships, comfort, status etc if you say ‘no’. So how should you respond as a Christian?
We learn from Daniel that we must choose to obey God and purpose in our heart to do what is right and pleasing to Him. God will always honour His word and provide direction. Daniel was known for his excellent spirit, faithfulness to God and his custom of praying three times daily. He was steadfastly committed to God and did not compromise on this (Daniel 1:8-9). When he decided not to worship King Darius, it almost cost him his life, literally! He was thrown in the lions den but the Lord protected him, he was not consumed ‘because he believed his God’ (Daniel 6:23).
Last week, we explored the decisions Ruth made and how God turned things around for her. I encourage you to read the blog post and listen to the podcast.
So, remain steadfast and in close fellowship with the Lord. Purpose in your heart that you will not comprise His word. Put your trust in Him, He delights in directing your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Happy International Women’s Day!