Queen Vashti is the woman of today, the woman we all admire, the woman we want to be. She had it all, success, status, admiration and beauty. She also knew the social norms of her time and she kept to them with the greatest integrity.
It is said that she had her own income because the king could trust her sense of responsibility and he provided her with an independent income. She also followed her own fashion sense in choosing her own wardrobe, side-stepping the palace dressers and advisers and she paid her own expenses from her independent income.
The king threw a week-long celebration to entertain his officers and fighting men at the palace in honour of their military achievements. While he entertained the men, Vashti entertained their wives at court. She is arguably the most intelligent woman in the Bible keeping her values and diplomacy in every circumstance.
Then the king, high on ambition and success, ordered her to appear in the men’s area. He wanted to display her beauty and advised she wear her own crown to signify the high honour in which she was held. The death penalty may be applied if she disobeyed the king.
On pain of death, she defied him. She refused his command. It was improper for a woman to enter the men’s area, especially when they had been wined and dined. It would allow a flood of social degeneration and Vashti never yielded for personal gain. Her virtue was her defense.
For her stand against social corruption, her husband, the king, divorced her. We ask ‘why?’
We find the reason and fulfillment in Matthew 7:21-23, wherein Christ condemns the ‘good’ deeds of ‘good’ people. They did everything right; they did church work at top level, doing all sorts of enviable good deeds, and they are the sorts of people we want to be.
Christ dismisses them with a cosmic divorce, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”’
Stunned, we ask ‘why?’ But Queen Vashti has already demonstrated why.
The king represents judgment and Vashti represents those who rely on their own good deeds. They wear their own clothes in an enviable display of virtuous activity. They forgot that nothing they can do is acceptable currency, not their status, not their virtue, not their integrity, not their good works. They forgot that they had to be clothed by the King, rely on his providence, empty themselves of themselves and be recognized only in his achievements.
They forgot ‘all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’, Isaiah 64:6. They forgot our need to be dressed by our King, Isaiah 61:10; ‘For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness’.
As Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’ (2:24.) And 4:7; ‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered’ a quote from Psalm 32.
(To access the entire “The Book of Esther” mini-series, please click hee.)