Ahasuerus & Vashti: Signs of a Disrespectful Wife
The story of Vashti and Ahasuerus is one that people have been talking about for centuries. Was Queen Vashti just a disrespectful wife? Or did she do the right thing when she refused to obey Ahasuerus?
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3 Signs of a Disrespectful Wife
There are simple ways we can be disrespectful to our husbands without even realizing it. Here are just three of them.
Using a rude tone–This one is subjective but if you are always speaking to your husband in a rude, gruff, sarcastic or patronizing tone you may want to reevaluate your relationship. One of the ways we show respect to others is by the way we speak to them and the message we communicate with our body language.
Constantly ignoring your husband–In this day of social media and clickable entertainment, this is so easy to do. It, therefore, becomes necessary for us to be intentional about spending quality time with our spouses.
Being disobedient to your husband–obedience is a big thing to God. He wants us to learn to obey those who are set in authority over us–including our husbands. God knows that the more obedient we are to people we can see, the easier it will be for us to obey Him.
Vashti’s Moment of Conflict
There was a great celebration in the land of Shushan. The entire city was celebrating with the King who was going all out to show his great wealth and the beauty of his city to everyone.
All officials and nobles were invited to 180 days of music and dancing and laughter and rich foods. After the first six months of festivity, everyone in the fortress of Shusan was included on the VIP list for the 7-day feast at the palace that would close out the festivities.
The palace was beautifully decorated in blue, white and purple. There were gold and silver articles everywhere. There was food galore and alcohol in abundance.
The Bible tells us in Esther 1:10 that the king’s heart was “merry with wine”. Layman’s term? He was drunk.
In his intoxicated state, he decided that he wanted to show off his most valuable possession: Queen Vashti. He sent seven eunuchs to bring her to the ball to show off her crown and her beauty.
We’ve read the story many times. Some of us burned with indignation for Vashti. While some forgot about her in the bigger story of Esther. I’m guilty of having done both of those things.
But, let’s take a few minutes to really look into this story in the context of today’s lesson: it’s never okay to be a disrespectful wife.
What Was Wrong with Ahasuerus’ Request?
Persian law at the time forbade men and women to intermingle in public. It would, therefore, have been unlawful for wives to appear with husbands at feasts. The queen was afforded greater respect.
The text is not clear, but there are some scholars who believe that Vashti was asked to appear in just her crown.
If this was the case, can you imagine how shocked the women attending her ball must have been? Not to mention how shocked (and excited) the men who were at the king’s ball would have been?
Regardless of whether he expected her to appear dressed or not, did the king know that he was asking her to act contrary to their customs? Of course, he did! But as they say: “chicken merry, hawk deh near.” Meaning, when we are most merry, danger catches us unaware.
King Ahasuerus’ actions contradicted the principle found in Ephesians 5:25-29. He belittled Vashti’s position as queen by treating her as just another possession. He showed neither love nor respect for her.
What Was Wrong with Vashti’s Response?
She had received a direct order from her husband the king. Both his title and his relationship to her were reasons for her to obey. In other words, she should have obeyed him because he was her king. And, she should have obeyed him because he was her husband.
But this was a case where nothing she did would have been right. Any option could have been construed as the actions of a disrespectful
Had Vashti gone to the feast, the king could have looked at her with disdain because she broke Persian custom. (Especially if she had shown up naked!) But by not going, she disobeyed her husband the king.
Vashti did not follow the principle of submission found in Ephesians 5:22-24.
Instructions to Wives
The Bible commanded husbands to love their wives while the women were given the instruction to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22, 24). Because we’re talking about what it means to be a disrespectful wife, let’s look a little deeper at God’s instructions to us.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22 NIV).
The word translated as submit is the Greek word hypotássō, (pronounced hoop-ot-as’-so) and could also have been translated as to subordinate; reflexively, to obey, be under obedience (obedient), submit self unto.
I like to think that God told husbands to love and wives to obey because He knew what would be hardest for each partner and what would benefit the family most.
What Does the Bible Say About a Disrespectful Wife?
It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman (Proverbs 21:19 ESV).
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones (Proverbs 12:4 ESV).
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV).
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 ESV).
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30 ESV).
Wife After God’s Own Heart
Sometimes, there’s no “right” way. As husbands and wives, we need to bend our will to God’s way.
Husbands need to love their wives in a genuine all-out way. If they put their wives ahead of themselves, wives would have no problems submitting (okay, okay fewer problems).
While we must be loyal to our husbands, our first loyalty is to God. We should do what pleases Him. We should not do anything that dishonors God. Even if it pleases our husbands.
Heavenly Father, help me to remember that I don’t always have to be right. Help me to bring honor and glory to my husband by first bringing honor and glory to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
What other lessons can we take from Ahasuerus and Vashti’s relationship? Share them with us in the comments section below.
My book Through God’s Eyes: Marriage Lessons for Women talks more about what it means to be a disrespectful wife and how we can become the wives God intended us to be.