Don’t we all just love the story of Esther, the beautiful young Jewish woman God set up to save her people? We love how she, above all the beautiful young women in the land, won the favor of the king and was selected to replace his previous wife, the disobedient Queen Vashti. We love her bravery in entering the chamber unbidden, knowing she could be killed, in order to plead for her people. We love that she was placed right there in that spot for such a time as that.
But what about the queen she replaced? What about poor Vashti?
We don’t really know exactly what happened to Vashti. What we do know is this: She was the queen and enjoyed the highest position available to a woman in the land. While her husband the king entertained all his noble friends (and possibly some less-than-noble ones) for seven days and what were surely rowdy nights, she held her own banquet for their wives and concubines. On that fateful seventh night, after all the men had partaken freely of the wine (which is possibly a euphemism for harder spirits – I’m just guessing but they could’ve been doing some shots, right? A little salt, a little lime …), the king decides he wants to show off his gorgeous queen. He has her summoned.
Now, we don’t know for sure what his intentions were, but knowing as we do the roles of men and women in that time, and knowing what wine (not to mention tequila) does to a man’s judgment, it’s not unreasonable to think good old King Ahauserus is going to have Vashti parade around in a few (if any) veils and possibly dance on the table for his buddies while he points and shouts, “That’s my WOMAN right there.”
Vashti politely refused. Or it might not have been so polite. In any event, she said, “I don’t think so, Fred (that’s probably what she called him because, you know, Ahauserus?).” That is the equivalent of the modern day “Oh he!% no.”
Being the decisive, authoritative king he was, Ahauserus acted immediately. He looked at his support staff, lip quivering, and said, “That wasn’t very nice. What should I do?”
His wise men, being so very wise, knew right away that Queen Vashti’s disobedience would lead to open revolt among all the women in the land.
“What’s for dinner, honey?” “Cook your own dang dinner. I’m reading.”
“Hey babe, do I have any clean socks?” “Hey babe, here’s a rock, there’s the creek, wash them yourself.”
“Oooh darlin’ you look gorgeous. Wanna fool around?” “Nope, you have kid duty. I’m going out.”
It would be chaos! Chaos, I tell you.
So of course they had to nip it in the bud. Queen Vashti must be put aside and a new queen selected. And we know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say (am I dating myself?).
To put it in today’s vernacular, Queen Vashti got cancelled.
So we all admire Queen Esther and her bravery in venturing into the king’s chamber to save the Jewish people, and rightly so. We love that God put her in the palace “for such a time” as that.
But do we also admire Queen Vashti’s bravery? She could have easily been put to death for her disobedience. At the very least, she knew she would incur the king’s ire, and she knew she would be in serious trouble. Do we ever stop to think that God also put her in the palace for such a time as that?
God needed Esther in the palace to save the Jews. So He also needed the previous queen to be a woman who would not cave to societal pressures, someone who would take a stand and do what she knew to be right despite the knowledge that she would be in deep doo-doo when she did. He chose Vashti. He chose a woman with a backbone. He chose a woman who was as brave in her own way as Esther.
Maybe braver. Because Vashti had it all – position, power, a life a luxury. Everything she could ever want was at her fingertips. To keep it, she just needed to put on her veils, go in, and maybe dance a little. It was distasteful to her, sure, but hey, it was one evening out of a lifetime. Those men probably wouldn’t even remember it in the morning, and most likely she’d never see any of them ever again, except Ahauserus, so what the heck. Small price to pay to stay in her nice, comfortable life.
She said no, and she lost it all.
But we hardly ever talk about Vashti; we always talk about and admire Esther. Vashti was just the one before Esther.
Sometimes God calls us to be the one who comes before the one. Sometimes He calls us to be the one who has to be brave and take the hit so He can open up our spot for the one who is going to step in and do something awesome.
When our culture, our society, tries to write the rules and tells us what we can and cannot say, what we can and cannot think, what we can and cannot believe, will I be a good little girl and either accept what they tell me is now true or at the very least just keep my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions to myself, keep my mouth shut, so that I don’t make waves or get cancelled?
Or will I be a tree planted by the water and stand firm for what I know to be true and right? Will I believe God’s word still says what it says it says, not what society is trying to say it says, even if it means getting cancelled, even if it’s not glorious, even if it just opens up my spot for someone else?
If I am called to be a Vashti, will I be brave enough to be a Vashti? I pray I will.