Vashti is only mentioned in the first part of Esther. Yet she leaves a legacy worthy of imitation for women today.(1)
Vashti is queen to King Ahasureus of the Persian Empire. She lives about 500 year before the coming of Jesus. It is speculated that she was a granddaughter to one of the prior Medo-Persian kings but that cannot be verified. She gives a feast for the noble women of the kingdom while her husband does likewise for the men. Days of drinking and debauchery accompanied such parties especially for the men.
A week into the feast the king demands that Vashti come before the men to display her beauty. Some Jewish rabbinical writings assert she was to present herself nude or perhaps dressed only in her crown. The Bible is not that specific but it is clear she was to present herself in some immodest way before a room full of drunks.
Such a refusal is stunning in the 5th century BC. Women had almost no rights and the King was sovereign. Her refusal could cost her life. Instead, she was removed as queen and she disappears into history. But let’s give Vashti credit for standing up to the wicked intents of a powerful King.
There are at least three lessons here for women today.
Vashiti Knew That Modesty Never Goes Out of Style
As Queen, Vashti would have been the most beautifully dressed woman in the nation. She was a trend-setter of the day. It is clear from Esther 1:16-18 that her conduct was watched by other women in the kingdom. She set the standard. By refusing the King’s order she sent a message that the style of the day was modesty.
It’s clear today that others think the opposite: Immodesty never goes out of style.
Rising hemlines, plunging necklines and revealing clothes are the standard for our day and have been for many years. We have allowed the godless to set the rule for our daughters and the result is an ever increasing sexuality among younger and younger children. A modest, well dressed woman is beautiful and need not make a spectacle of herself in order to be attractive. Modesty must be our standard.
Vashti Knew That Someone Is Always Watching
Vashti was a queen and we are not surprised the women were watching her. People watch celebrities today and dress like them. But even among us common folk, people watch what we wear and will take cues as to what is acceptable.
Vashti was brave enough to set a standard for the nation. She was on the world’s stage and she knew how to influence the women of the kingdom. She knew more would be watching her than the King and his drunken buddies. She chose to send a message to them all.
You are sending messages by what you wear. And ladies, please remember, you are sending a message to your daughters too.
Someone once said that it was not her problem if a man lusted after her. She could wear what she wanted. Yet that attitude runs afoul of a multitude of clear Biblical teachings including the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) and Paul’s discussions of loving the brethren (Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:13; 1 Corinthians 10:23-33). Someone is always watching.
Vashti Would Bow to No Man
The idea that a woman is to be submissive to her husband is Biblical. But submissive does not extend to humiliation or sin. No man has a right to demand that his wife do anything that humiliates her or causes her to sin – not in public and not in private.
Some men demand their wives dress in revealing clothing as if to display their trophies to the world. A woman is under no compulsion to parade about publically in an immodest way. The Bible teaches that husbands are to loves their wives “as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). Christ would never demand sin of his people would he?
Your body, your beauty, belongs to you. Vashti would not share her beauty with the drunken company of the King. Let’s learn from her.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at preachersstudyblog.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.
- I know modesty applies to men too but Vashti is especially well suited for women. (↩)