06 August 2020
Esther 1:12, 18, -19 'But when the [king's] attendants delivered the king's command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger… [One of the king's legal experts advised this way:] "This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen's conduct will respond to all the king's nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord. Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree… that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else…' (NIV)
What incredible damage can be done by human vanity, pride and anger! What made the queen of Persia, Vashti, to defy her husband? Whatever her reasons, she must have known the likely outcome of her actions. Her refusal to back down does at least suggest that she possessed a stubbornness that could only spell trouble. And what made her husband King Xerxes so intransigent in his response? His male courtiers believed that male vanity was more important than forgiveness and reconciliation. The advice they gave relied on an appeal to the king's vanity and on saving face. The so-called 'Battle of the Sexes' is as old as the Garden of Eden. When male and female have faced off to do battle with one another, it has only ever brought pain, as it did in this sad story. We may rise up in the heat of the moment and say all kinds of hurtful things to one another. In the end, our anger cools and all we have left is the sour taste of words we can't retract and actions that can't be undone. That was Xerxe's experience, too. In this stressful and complicated world, we constantly need God's help to break the destructive cycle of pride, to protect us from our own vanity and to help us forgive and move on – before we do something we will regret.
Prayer: 'Lord, please help me not to take up positions which are based on vanity or hurt pride. Help me to keep guard over my relationships and be ready to forgive, to take the sting out of potentially explosive situations by showing grace.'
© Mal Fletcher 2003-2004