Esther 1 has King Ahasuerus on the throne ruling his great empire from Susa. He was a pretty proud guy, and “he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for…180 days. The first feast was for all the government officials, where Ahasuerus showed off the glory and splendor of the riches of his kingdom. He also threw a feast lasting for seven days. This second feast was for the citizens of the capital city Sushan. It was a big party. He had inherited the vast Persian Empire from his father, Darius. And he wanted to show things off.
The basic reason for these feasts was, of course, pride. The king wanted to impress his subjects with a great display of his own wealth and power and majesty and generosity. But there was still a third feast. “Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace”. But then a problem occurs within the royal family. King Ahasuerus demands that Vashti display her beauty before the guests at the feast. “But Queen Vashti refused to come….At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him”.
There is a problem in the castle. And it didn’t happen in private. This was a very public refusal, and the leaders under the king come with a strong recommendation that “the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt”. Time to put a stop to this. They did not want this lack of submission by the queen to become an excuse, or worse yet, a standard for how women would relate to their husbands. They want to nip this in the bud and stop any idea that women can refuse a request from their husband. We won’t get into the weeds around submission here except to say that submission does not mean that a wife must obey her husband if he commands her to sin. Every command to submit on a human level is conditioned by the higher obligation to obey God before man.
The king’s advisors suggest that he “let a royal order go out from him….that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus”. If she wants to disobey the king’s request, she was to be cut off as the queen. “And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike”. This is Old Testament law for a different time than this. Paul tells us that men are to love their wives, and wives to respect their husbands. No matter the law, there is a problem in the kingdom and it has to do with relationships. Men need to step up and lead well – not by demands – but through servant leadership and love!