Day Two: Queen Vashti
Yesterday, we ended with this question about Queen Vashti:
Reflection: If you had to guess, what do you think was Queen Vashti's heart motivation for throwing her party?
Today, I want to look at this question again as we go into our discussion about the queen. I suspect that she did this partially out of obligation and partially out of a desire to not be left out. It was custom in these times to have separate parties. Men and women didn't intermingle at events such as this. It just wasn't done. So part of Queen Vashti had to have been feeling that pressure to perform. You know the one. The one that starts, "I probably should..."
I do too many things because "I probably should." And while the things I probably should do eventually get done, I have to ask myself, how much of God's blessing am I missing out on here because my heart motivation is all wrong?
Last week, my best friend posted a picture of food on her Facebook page. The picture was there because she had one of these moments- probably one of many, but this is the one that stood out. Rather than thinking she probably should go pick up her grandson since she had the carseat and her husband did not, she joyfully ditched the lunch she now wouldn't have time to eat and went to get him only to discover that her daughter had made lunch for her. Now, because she embraced the joy and still got the job done, she could see the blessing that stared in her face. She got time with her daughter, time with her grandson, and a hot lunch prepared with love.
Would those things have been there if she'd gone with a bad attitude? Maybe. But her attitude would have made it hard to see them for what they were. Our attitudes always affect how we see things.
Personal Reflection: What areas of your life need an attitude adjustment so you can more freely give and receive God's grace and blessing?
Read Esther 1:9-12. When did Queen Vashti hold her banquet (1:9)?
Where was the women's banquet being held (1:9)?
Looking back at the verses from yesterday, where was the men's banquet in relation (1:5)?
What happened on the seventh day of the banquet (1:10)?
What was Xerxes' emotional state when he called for the queen (1:10)?
What did Xerxes want Queen Vashti to wear (1:11)?
Why did he want her to come (1:11)?
The king "was in high spirits" when he called for Queen Vashti. In other words, he was drunk. He'd been partying hard for more than 6 months hosting princes, noblemen, and esteemed government officials. The party was finally winding down as he celebrated with all of his subjects, but still he wasn't in the best frame of mind to be making decisions. Matthew Henry's Commentary actually says, "If he had not been put out of the possession of himself by drinking to excess, he would not have done such a thing, but would have been angry at any one that should have mentioned it. When the wine is in the wit is out, and men’s reason departs from them."
As I said earlier, women in this culture were not to be in public. The king was asking her to go against cultural norms and risk her honor by doing so. It's very likely he never would have done this if he hadn't been drinking so much.
Personal Reflection: Would you have done the same thing that Queen Vashti did under the same circumstances?
I want to believe that I would have done the same thing as Queen Vashti, that I would have said "no way" to my drunk husband and stayed in my part of the palace. But part of me wonders if that's true? I'm a hard-core rule follower (except when I worked hard not to be as a teenager but that's another tale for another day), so I would have been torn over what to do here. Listen to my husband or follow the laws laid out by the culture?
As I studied her choice though, it seems like it wasn't what she did that got her in trouble so much as her attitude as she did it.
What was Vashti's response to the king's request (1:12)?
How did the king deliver his request (1:10)?
According to Matthew Henry's Commentary, "though he sent his command by seven honourable messengers, and publicly, and Josephus says sent again and again, yet she persisted in her denial. Had she come, while it was evident that she did it in pure obedience, it would have been no reflection upon her modesty, nor a bad example. The thing was not in itself sinful, and therefore to obey would have been more her honour than to be so precise."
Henry goes on to clarify why this was so upsetting for the king: "What a mortification was this to him! While he was showing the glory of his kingdom he showed the reproach of his family, that he had a wife that would do as she pleased. Strifes between yoke-fellows are bad enough at any time, but before company they are very scandalous, and occasion blushing and uneasiness."
So it all comes back to feelings and attitudes. They are a fickle thing. In the moment, the king was angry and the queen was appalled. Neither one had a great attitude, frankly. And when we make decisions in moments of anger and bad attitudes, they often end up being bad ones.
Tomorrow we'll look at what the king decided to do in his anger. Until then, think about this question, because we all struggle with this. Every one of us makes a decision that we wouldn't have made if only we'd taken a little time to evaluate our feelings.
Personal Reflection: What is the most recent bad decision you made in a moment of anger or in the midst of a poor attitude?