Queen Vashti is mentioned only once in the Bible. She is often an overlooked woman in the Scripture because her story is attached to that of Esther whose story overshadows Vashti’s.
Yet, Vashti’s story holds some powerful, practical life lessons for women. Although she was unlikely to be a believer in Jehovah as God, her own belief system was so strong that she made an unprecedented decision.
This decision changed her destiny and changed the course of history. It would almost seem that hers was not a story with a happy ending but it depends on how you choose to look at it.
Let’s get into Vashti’s story and lessons we can learn.
The Story of Queen Vashti
Queen Vashti was the wife to King Ahasuerus. He ruled the Kingdom of Persia in its glory days. The kingdom spread across approximately 11 different countries stretching from India to Africa.
To celebrate, King Ahasuerus threw a party. More like a feast. It lasted half a year. 180 days to be exact.
This was for his government officials and the primary purpose was to show off the glorious riches he had.
Then he threw another party which lasted 7 days. This was for the citizens who lived in the capital city. Again, the primary purpose was to show off.
It was on the last day of this feast that King Ahasuerus demanded that Queen Vashti appear before him.
King Ahasuerus was in a drunken state. It seemed that he and the other men had gotten into a debate about which country had the most beautiful women.
She refused to go.
Read on to find out why and what happened to Vashti and what we can learn.
Characteristics of Queen Vashti in the Bible
The decision made by Vashti was extraordinary. It was unheard of. Why was she able to be so bold about it?
To understand the lessons we can draw from Vashti’s life, we have to first do a quick study of her qualities.
Who was Queen Vashti? What was she like?
Queen Vashti was beautiful
One of reasons King Ahasuerus wanted to show off Queen Vashti was because, according to the Bible,
…she was beautiful to behold.
If the queen was nothing else in those days, she had to be a specimen of feminine beauty.
Esther stood out among her other contenders because of her beauty.
This is referring to her physical beauty.
Queen Vashti came from royalty
According Jewish sources, Queen Vashti was the great-granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon and the daughter of King Belshazzar.
Whatever the case, for her to become queen, she must have been born into an aristocratic family.
In those days, many marriages were done for political and economic reasons. So it is also very likely that Queen Vashti would have been married to King Xerxes, not necessarily by choice.
As a girl she would have been trained and prepared to marry into royalty and to develop the deportment of a queen.
This is maybe one reason Vashti was not a pushover.
Queen Vashti had high self-worth
When King Ahasuerus called Queen Vashti to appear he didn’t expect her to turn up being royally robed the way a queen should be.
His aim was to put her on display just like he had been showing off the rest of his kingdom.
The King wanted his wife’s beauty to be on full display.
He did not expect her to be modest in presenting herself. He expected her to look like somewhat like the prostitute of their day.
But Queen Vashti already knew she was lovely to look at. She did not need a bunch of drunken men to reinforce that for her.
And she absolutely wasn’t an animal at the country fair vying for a ribbon. Nor was she a dog at a show vying for a trophy.
Her self-worth was secure so she could confidently say no to the King.
Queen Vashti was courageous
King Ahasuerus was not a reasonable man. He was quite impulsive. In fact, he seemed a little crazy.
In Esther’s story he killed Haman because he thought Haman was trying to sleep with Esther, right in front of him. Haman was only begging for his life.
For Queen Vashti to defy a man like this was a death sentence.
For her actions Queen Vashti would have been killed and dismembered.
Knowing the possibilities that lay ahead for her, she stood up for herself anyway.
What can we learn from Queen Vashti in the Bible?
Now that we have learned a little about Queen Vashti’s character, what lessons can we draw from her life to apply to ours?
Here are a few nuggets to consider.
Self-worth does not come from others or things
Queen Vashti floated her own boat. She knew who she was. And that was enough for her.
Queen Vashti was the first lady of the largest nation on earth at that time. The wealth that was available to her would be in the billions today.
Yet, Vashti neither defined herself by this nor lived for it. Yes, she used the wealth that was available to her but it never became so meaningful to her that she would sell her dignity for it.
She could give up a life of luxury with courage.
For her, wealth meant being able to keep her dignity and integrity.
Know who you are for yourself. Otherwise, things outside of you will determine the direction you take in life.
People may dislike you but they must respect you.
Don’t ever sell yourself short.
Submission in marriage has boundaries
There are many people who think that wives should submit without question to their spouse.
Yet, in the response of a pagan queen God shows us that submission has boundaries.
Queen Vashti was being made to lower herself to the wishes of men who had no moral compass. Men who weren’t even thinking straight because of all the liquor they had consumed.
Ahasuerus expected Vashti to show up somewhat uncovered in a way that Eastern women never went in the presence of unfamiliar people but especially unfamiliar men.
Only her husband was meant to see her beauty.
She chose her integrity and morals over her marriage. I’d like to think that this pleased God more.
Because even with civil laws, God endorses obedience as far as He is not dishonored.
Be careful of people who have no respect for you and your standards
King Ahasuerus was more concerned with his own ego than the dignity of his wife.
He allowed her fate to be decided by men who didn’t even know her.
This kind of betrayal of the respect she had for herself and her body must have been heart-rending for her.
The truth of the matter is that women had little regard among men in those days.
When Queen Vashti refused to show up they were only concerned that other wives would become disrespectful to their husbands.
It’s funny how they wanted to be respected by the very women they neither protected nor respected.
This was never God’s design and this is one thing Jesus came to change.
As a woman, never compromise on your standards, especially when you are standing on the Word of God.
Those who have no respect for your standards will not respect you either. And once you have lost their respect, the health of your relationship with them is automatically jeopardized.
Don’t entertain disrespect of your godly standards. That will not serve you and it will not end well.
Even good decisions have consequences
Because she chose to stand up for herself, Queen Vashti was banished from the kingdom.
She lost her crown and her status in favor of keeping her dignity.
King Ahasuerus wanted to make an example of her and he was quite successful in doing so.
For the rest of her life, Queen Vashti became the woman who suffered loss of wealth and status because she stood up for herself.
Sometimes you have to give up something to keep what has great value for you.
Joseph had the same problem, ending up in prison because he refused to commit adultery.
Sometimes doing the right thing can result in terrible times. The enemy delights in making us miserable when we stand for God. Such fiery trials are part and parcel of the Christian experience.
But not to worry. God is magnificent at vindication and restoration.
And it is always worth it to follow the right path.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:12-14
Differences between Esther and Queen Vashti in the Bible
It is estimated that King Ahasuerus didn’t seek to replace Vashti until about 4 years after he banished her.
Vashti was replaced by Queen Esther. One big similarity between them is that they were both very beautiful women and they were both wise.
But they were different in many ways. Here are a few things to consider.
- Esther was Hebrew but Queen Vashti was Persian.
- Esther worshiped Yahweh but Vashti was pagan.
- Esther disobeyed the king but she did so with much wisdom, backed by prayer, and an elaborate strategy. Vashti’s wisdom dictated that going to the king wasn’t wise under the circumstances but she didn’t seem to approach it with this kind of tactic.
Facts about Queen Vashti in the Bible
And before we wrap this up, two fun facts about Vashti to take with you.
Meaning of Vashti in the Bible
The name Vashti comes from a word that means beautiful one or lovely.
How did Queen Vashti die?
The Bible only says that Vashti was banished. Jewish sources say she was executed. Whatever the case, Vashti’s life met an unfortunate end.
Final words about Queen Vashti in the Bible
Queen Vashti was not a believer in the God of heaven.
But she is a heroine of the Scriptures. In choosing disobedience over dishonor, she set a magnificent example of confident womanhood.
She owned her integrity so tightly that no amount of money could make her give up her self-worth and self-respect.
As much as she might not have acknowledged it, God gave Queen Vashti the grace to fight for herself.
And God will do the same for you.