We looked at the submission of Sarah in my last post and I want to use this medium to apologize for typo errors. With that said, we will be considering another woman in today’s post who did the direct opposite of what Sarah did in terms of submission to her husband and that woman is Queen Vashti.
Esther 1:1-5, 9-12, 15-19
This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.
For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest, who were in the citadel of Susa.
Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of king Xerxes.
On the seventh day, when the king was in high spirit from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him – Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zetha and Carcas – to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
“According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked, “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”
Then Memucan replied in the presence of the king and his nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ This very day the Persian and Median women of nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.
“Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.
And there goes the reign of queen Vashti as queen over the 127 provinces under the rule of her husband king Xerxes. One very interesting thing is that what Queen Vashti did is what any other woman in this generation would do.
Let’s consider the scenario: The husband was displaying his vast array of wealth, splendor and glory, he then gave a banquet to cap up the event of six months. It was a time of feasting, drinking and in fact getting drunk, because it was a season of partying where anyone could drink whatever they wanted, however they wanted to and in what quantity they wanted. So you can picture in your mind the scene where everyone was free to drink and get drunk; even the king who was giving the banquet was already drunk as the Bible tells us that he was already in high spirit from wine. So for a king who is already drunk, what meaningful instruction can come out of him except for senseless talk. It was in this spirit of brain drain from wine that the king sent for his queen to come for a one-man show fashion parade in front of his friends and subjects; the nobles of the land.
I want to believe that the first thought that would come to queen Vashti’s mind was that, “what an insult it was on her person for the king to summon her to parade herself before drunk men.” Looking at this from a normal point of view she shouldn’t be wrong, she needed to protect her self-image and dignity as a woman and so she had to refuse the command of a drunken husband. But from God’s perspective she was very wrong and the thought of this makes me fear God. Sometimes I am tempted to think that the teachings of God are hard and following God is hard and delicate. But in truth, all that is required to follow God is simply obedience; just a strong trusting obedience and faith is all it takes to follow the Lord.
When God gives a command, it requires no self-help. The Lord says a wife should submit to her husband in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24) as she would to the Lord and God never gave a but to that rule neither was there any exception to the rule. In fact the rule says to submit in everything. Now God did not say to submit to your husband only when he is righteous or with a clear head and mind. But whether your husband is drunk, mad or insane, as long as you are married to him and he is still breathing and alive you are to submit to him. And like we learned in the submission of Sarah, you are to submit to him even when it hurts.
This might sound very hard to cope with, but the big picture is that God will never leave you to go through it all by yourself. The Lord who loves and protects you will protect your dignity and pride as a woman even when your husband isn’t protecting it. But when you decide to fight your own battles yourself just like Vashti did when she refused to honor the king’s command, you leave God with no choice but to let you handle it your way and bear the consequences of your actions yourself.
When your husband gives you a bizarre instruction to follow, he is wrong and every one including God knows that he is wrong. But if you do not obey such bizarre instruction, that makes you also wrong and if no-one thinks you are wrong, God knows that you are wrong and would not justify your disobedience out of pity. He is a just and objective God. Now when your husband is wrong and you dare to do what is right even in that awkward circumstance, God steps in and comes to your rescue. Rather than you being the victim you become the victor.
Queen Vashti did it her own way and she lost her crown, she lost her position as a queen to another who is said to be better than she, and that was the last we heard her name mentioned in the scriptures. But Sarah did it God’s way and she did it in pains too, but God came to her rescue. First the Lord ensured that the two kings who took her as wife never touched or defiled her. Remember what the Lord told Abimelech in the dream, that it was He who prevented him from touching Sarah (Genesis 20:6). And after she was restored to her husband, the Lord opened her womb and restored her dignity as woman; she finally gave birth to a son. And not just any son, she gave birth to the fulfillment of God’s covenant to Abraham; she gave birth to the promised child. She became the one everyone rejoiced with; she became the love of her husband’s life. Finally, Abraham loved, respected and valued her as his wife and all these are as a result of obedience even when it appeared senseless to obey.
This is a big lesson for us as wives, and when I say us, I mean myself inclusive. I am still in the learning process but I can tell you that I have put this obedience and submission thing to test in my life and marriage and it has really paid off for me. Sometimes it hurts to obey some of my husband’s instructions and sometimes those instructions appear very much meaningless but obeying them has earned me the joyful marriage that God has blessed me with today.
Don’t let anyone convince you that you are foolish by submitting to your husband; like in every other aspect, the things of God are always foolishness to those in the world. But when you begin to enjoy the dividends of your godly foolishness as I would like to term it, you will become an envy to those in the world, they will seek you and seek your godly foolishness; you will become a role model for being foolish in following the instructions of God for your life. So keep at it; for the pay day is at hand.