ABC Bible Character Faith Series

Submission has limits – Vashti’s story

Lessons from Vashti, the Queen!

This week, we’ll explore Queen Vashti’s relationship with her husband, King Xerxes and link our faith lesson to her submission as a wife, to her husband.

Esther Chapter 1 tells the story of Queen Vashti, a character often overshadowed by the more popular Queen Esther. Despite being forgotten, Queen Vashti’s way of life, even though she wasn’t a believer, teaches us a critical lesson about maintaining our morals.

At the time when Persia was under the rule of King Xerxes, Queen Vashti was his wife. The province under his reign stretched from India all the way to Cush in Africa, covering a vast distance. In the third year of his reign, the King hosted an extravagant banquet for a full 180 days, an incredible six months of revelry. It is revealed in Esther 1:4 that the King organised these feasts to showcase the opulence and grandeur of his kingdom. Following the first feast, he then hosted another banquet lasting seven days, where all the guests were lavishly served and permitted to indulge in drinks to their heart’s content. Additionally, Queen Vashti herself organised a banquet specifically catered to the women in the royal palace.

On the seventh day of the King’s second feast, he was very high-spirited in all the wine he had consumed. In this state, he ordered his servants to bring Queen Vashti before him. His intention was to put his wife on display, after showcasing his grandeur to the public eye. The Queen was known for her breathtaking appearance and the King remarked that she was lovely to look at. Queen Vashti however declined the invitation to make an appearance. This refusal enraged the King.

In defying her husband’s command, Queen Vashti exhibited bravery and a sense of self-worth. However, the price she paid for it was steep. She was banished from the palace. She lost all her possessions. Although her fate remains unknown, it’s evident that the outcome for Queen Vashti wasn’t favourable.

However, for today’s discussion, we are delving into the topic of submission. Many societies define submission as an act of complete and unquestioning obedience, particularly in relationships where women are expected to submit to their husbands. However, biblically, we understand that the same chapter in Ephesians that provides instructions to wives also instructs husbands. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and sacrificed himself for her. This instruction is substantial and can only be fulfilled under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. It is safe to assume that love and respect are intertwined and are not mutually exclusive.

King Xerxes showed a lack of respect for Vashti, possibly due to being extremely intoxicated. He banished her from the palace after seeking counsel from the wise men who understood those times, and claimed that other women would mimic her actions and show disrespect towards their husbands. However, this argument fails to hold any value as it was unreasonable for the King to demand Vashti to act as a “prostitute” just to flaunt her beauty in front of the people. Thus, Vashti rightfully refused. As women, we should adopt Vashti’s approach and strive to hold onto our standards, even if it means losing material wealth. Men also need to learn to respect not only their wives but all the women in their lives.

Finally, it’s worth noting that doing the right thing might not always yield favourable outcomes. Nevertheless, faith demands that we stay obedient to God’s will alone. Living in accordance with His word is what God desires for us. Being that our bodies are temples of God, we should honour them and provide them the proper care. It’s not about displaying nudity but rather, maintaining dignity and grace. This may differ based on cultural practices, but ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who guides and convicts us. I pray that we keep an open heart and mind to the Holy Spirit’s leading. In any and all relationships, our primary responsibility is to submit to God, and in doing so, we shall submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:21.

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