But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command conveyed by the eunuchs. Therefore the king was enraged, and his anger burned within him.
Esther 1:12 AMPC
There’s debate about whether Queen Vashti was right or wrong to refuse the king’s command to come to him. Some claim that she was noble and godly in her ‘no.’ Maybe she was, maybe she wasn’t. I don’t know and I’m not really interested at the moment. What I do know is that God could have easily praised Vashti’s response if He wanted to do so, yet He did not. Instead she is given a few lines in a book named for the queen who replaced her. Queen Esther saved her people, and she did so with behavior that was markedly different from her predecessor. That bears consideration, even if it makes us uncomfortable.
Vashti Stood Her Ground, Esther Bowed
Back in my pre-salvation, princess mentality days, I thought that Esther was a doormat. Her story was my proof that God was cruel. Why would I want to be like Esther? At least Vashti had a spine. Such is the shallowness of thought born of great bitterness.
I saw Esther’s suffering, but I didn’t see her sacrifice until I was born again. One of the worst lies Satan ever told women is that only one kind of strength is commendable: masculine strength. To be worthy, we have to work like men, fight like men, love like men. Sadly, that lie was believed by more women than just me (and more every day, God help us), until Esther became a wimp and Jezebel was only hated for being a powerful woman.
There is beauty in feminine fragility and vulnerability—and strength, too, as Esther shows. Esther sacrificed everything for the sake of her people. She put her life on the line twice. She showed great honor and obeisance to the very king who authorized the extermination of the Jews. Vashti refused to be an ornament, to be paraded in front of crowds on the drunken whim of the king. Her ‘no’ resulted in the loss of her crown and exile. Esther’s deference saved all of Israel. Vashti’s defiance couldn’t even save her.
Vashti Isn’t the Queen that God Featured
I cannot imagine what being married to Xerxes would entail. I’ve no doubt that both Vashti and Esther suffered as his queens. But Esther’s suffering bore eternal fruit, while Vashti is but a footnote, literally making way for our heroine.
I don’t know what God thought of Vashti and her defiant ‘no,’ but I know what He thinks about Esther. I know that her royalty was rewarded with a legacy most men would envy, let alone women. It’s a battle these days to see Esther clearly when all the world would prefer the Book of Vashti.
“[Esther’s] particular brilliance, that she always stayed in her place. By intense acceptance she had the power to see her boundaries and tolerate their limitations with quietness. Never overstepping or underplaying. Truly, she died to her own destiny, never dreaming that by that very perishing she was at its threshold.
Because she gave up power over her own life, she was entrusted with the Power to save the nation which was to mother the Christ child.”
Martha Kilpatrick, All and Only, from “Esther”