The high king of heaven landed in a manger. Love Himself was rejected. If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t fit in no matter how hard you tried, no-one can empathise more than perfection Himself being told there is no room at the inn.
Vashti’s refusal is the climax of her story. But is it an example of rebellion or assertiveness?
Some readings of Vashti are highly critical of her denial, suggesting that she was disobedient, rebellious or playing power games of her own.
If, as we have been discovering, Vashti’s story is critical to Esther’s, the king’s request and Vashti’s refusal represent the climax of her story. But how should we interpret it? Is it a case of insubordination, an example of wilfulness – as has often been implied. Or was her refusal virtuous and providential? First the request. The king’s request, the reason he sent seven men was:
Having discussed the general context of the book of Esther and Vashti’s importance in it as well as some of the background to Vashti’s introduction, let’s take a closer look at the verse preceding her denial of the king’s request:
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus.
Esther 1:10 (ESV)
Of course, “merry with wine” is a euphemism for being inebriated to some extent. However, the king’s blood-alcohol level aside, the context of the passage (not to mention the rest of the book) makes it clear that the king was drunk on power, patriarchy, pride as well as alcohol.