On the seventh day of the feast, when King Xerxes was in high spirits because of the wine, he told the seven eunuchs who attended him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas—to bring Queen Vashti to him with the royal crown on her head. He wanted the nobles and all the other men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman. But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger. (Esther 1:10-12)
Today I want to make a simple observation from Esther chapter 1. King Xerxes was a powerful King, a man that no one in their right mind would wish to cross. We know from later in the story of Esther that she is filled with dread at the idea of coming before the King unbidden. She knows that arriving uncalled for could mean death for her. So as I say, King Xerxes is not the kind of man you want to trifle with.
Yet in the middle of a great feast, when the King was in high spirits, he decides to call on his wife, Queen Vashti, to appear before all the noblemen so that he might display his wife’s beauty to them all. To the great horror of all, and the embarrassment of the king, the queen refuses to come. It’s madness! What could she be thinking! Defying the most powerful king in the world. A king whose power extends over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia.
Predictably the King burned with anger, he consults his advisors and a consensus is reached: this behaviour can’t be countenanced! This kind of defiance must not be tolerated and so a law is drawn up, a law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked. This irrevocable law stated that Queen Vashti was to be banished from the kingdom. This was the end for her. One act of defiance. One disobedient action and the King cast her out of his presence forever.
But that’s not my king!
Just like Queen Vashti it’s a kind of insanity that we defy the law of the King of Kings. It’s madness that we do not come at the call of the Lord of Lords. But unlike King Xerxes, our Lord does not cast us out of the kingdom for a single infraction. We should be cast out. We deserve to be locked out forever. For if King Xerxes deserved to be obeyed, then how much more the God of the universe!
But instead of casting us out, instead of burning with anger against us, He instead turns to us in love. Xerxes could not allow himself to be humiliated in this way, but our King allows Himself to be humiliated for our sake. His anger is turned away from us and toward His Perfect Prince.
Queen Vashti suffered justly for her disobedience, but that’s not my King! We have a different and infinitely more gracious King, who abounds in love, and mercy, and will not cast us out.