“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.” Est. 1:12, NLT
One of the most exciting books of the Bible is the book of Esther. It is intriguing, provocative, suspenseful, insightful, helpful and incredibly wonderful. It is a short read, with a long reach. It contains all of the elements you would want to find in a great story. But it is more than just a ‘story’. It is an historically-accurate account of an episode in the saga of God’s people that shows us the lengths God will go to in order to protect, preserve and provide for the well-being of His own, whom He has covenanted with. One of the riveting aspects of this account is the love story that emerges between the Persian king Xerxes and the young woman of Israeli descent, known as Esther (Hadassah is her proper Jewish name). Through a series of sovereignly-peculiar and providential events, Esther finds herself going from being a young Jewish virgin who is unmarried and very obscure within the vast kingdom of Medo-Persia to becoming the Queen of this kingdom, arresting the attention and affections of this powerful monarch and causing his ensnarement with her natural purity, beauty, and grace. Some of the circumstances connected to her ascension to that position have elements to it that are brutal, savage, and perverse. It is a highly romantic epic for sure. But some of the behind-the-scenes eventualities are not very pretty at all. One of these eventualities involves Esther’s predecessor, Queen Vashti.
Vashti was the Queen prior to Esther. King Xerxes convened this very lavish festival that lasted for months. This festival included a 7-days long banquet at his palace, which involved among other things unlimited and unbridled access to liquor. The king and his advisors are partaking of this drinkfest. In one of the sittings, more-than-likely in a state of inebriation, Xerxes sends for Vashti to come and dance before him and his advisors while they are possibly in a drunken stupor, so that he may display her beauty. Vashti refuses. I would surmise that she decided her personal dignity as a woman is more valuable than her positional royalty as a queen and not worth subjecting herself to such circumstances of extreme debauchery. This infuriates the king. He engages the counsel of his advisors. They subsequently concoct a policy that banishes Vashti and sets into motion the events where Esther is able to eventually become the next queen.
There has been much speculation and conjecture about Vashti’s actions. On one ideological side of the coin she is vilified as being disrespectful to her husband, not being in subjection and submission to him. On another side of the ideological coin, she is applauded for putting her personal safety above the accepted cultural practices of the day. However, I would like to present something else. I would like to applaud her for her refusal to subject herself to that recklessness because of the bigger picture. You see when I read this story this time, (I’ve read it many times) I see how critical it was for Vashti to hold her ground, stand up for what was right in not capitulating to this reckless request and thereby set into motion a chain of events that would eventually lead to the salvation and preservation of God’s people. Because Vashti said NO in this relationship, it created the setting for another relationship to emerge that would eventually bless so many people.
Now you may ask how does this relate to dating? There are times within the scope of the relational reality of dating where one must be acutely aware of and sensitive to the long-term realities of a particular relationship. You have to objectively remove yourself from the relationship and objectively evaluate its appropriateness within the scope of the bigger picture. And sometimes that means being strong enough to say NO to the relationship because you are not the one God has for them and they are not the one God has for you. You become the strong link in the relational chain. When Vashti said NO, she drew a line in the sand that may have been misconstrued as selfish but in the long run was extremely selfless. I’m not even sure she was aware of what she was doing. But God knew. And when you’re involved with someone, you want to be tuned in to what is God doing with them and what is He doing with you in the scope of the long-term with regards to fulfilling purpose and destiny in the relational realm. You want to be bigger than the immaturity and short-sightedness of the short-term pleasure of the relational moment. After all, how many people will be affected by your actions, good or bad, right or wrong? Again, Vashti’s decision was the catalyst for the salvation of an entire group of people.
So are you a strong link in the relational chain, or are you a weak link that is contributing to the breaking of that chain? In part 2, I will give you my personal experience of this reality in my own relational experience. Stay tuned….