I grew up hearing about her and how many women shouldn’t end up as she did.
The story of Vashti is found in the book of Esther written by Ezra. It recounts how the queen of Persia was deposed. The husband the king who by historical accounts was Darius the Medes or Astyages was having a feast to celebrate his reign on the throne. He had called all of his governors, the ruling princes together for several days of feasting.
Then one day, he drank wine until he was drunk and while drunk commanded that his chamberlains go and summon the queen to dress up and catwalk before the whole congregation so as to display her beauty!
On the surface, this looks like a simple request but if you understand the oriental culture of Persia at the time you will understand that it was a strange request.
In Persia, the queen was always veiled and never really seen in public. She was to be seen only with the king or within his quarters. The beauty of the queen was meant for the pleasure of only the king and for his eyes only. In Persian culture what the King was asking for was meant for concubines or sex slaves, not the queen.
The queen wasn’t meant to come and catwalk or dance erotically for the amusement of the crowd. Vashti knew this. She also knew that her husband must not be making the request with a sound mind.
So she didn’t answer or respond to his request.
It is likely she was of royal blood herself.
Was she wrong?
On the surface, No.
She had her reasons.
He was drunk.
The request was humiliating.
But on a deeper level, she was.
You see the request was made by the king, not her husband.
As a king, he was sovereign in the kingdom.
He had the authority to command her to appear whether drunk or not. He had to authority to destroy her or build her.
Vashti should have obeyed first and discussed her reservations privately.
The command for her to come was public which made her disobedience public.
She left the king publicly shamed and he had to respond to that because if he hadn’t that singular act would have portrayed him as weak in the eyes of the most powerful people and kingmakers in Persia making it likely that someone will take a stab at him for the throne.
In power circles, weakness shown is an invitation to confrontation. Vashti knew this but wasn’t discreet enough to act accordingly.
What do we learn from Vashti?
We learn that in life we must have the wisdom necessary to deal with discretion and tact even when we know that the instructions are stupid. We must discern the doorkeepers and kingmakers. There is a way to refuse honorably and a way to make wiser decisions especially when the choices are not as easy.
Vashti was a beautiful woman.
A royal woman.
But she wasn’t very strategic in what she did. She should have been able to see the big picture when that request came to her. If she did she would still be queen.
In the entire book of Esther, we hear the opinions of others about Vashti and she was never quoted even once.
The queen who replaced her had all Vashti had except her royal blood but also had what she didn’t have.
Tact and strategic thinking.
In the palace of life, you need tact.
For you can be right and still lose in the palaces of this life.
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