“9 Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him – Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas – 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.13 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times 14 and were closest to the king – Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.15 ‘According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?’ he asked. ‘She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.’16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, ‘Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, “King  Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.” 18 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.19 ‘Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. 20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.’ NIV

Reading this, I feel tempted to tell a joke, but I’ll restrain myself!  Actually, there is more than a touch of comedy here. Xerxes is portrayed almost like a ridiculous pantomime character. This great king, who can control a large part of the world, cannot even control his own wife.

‘’The One enthroned in heaven laughs…’’ (Psalm 1:4)…

…and I think we are meant to laugh too. It is also laughable to imagine that respect and obedience can be legislated. Xerxes wanted to show off his wife, like all his other possessions.I have also heard that there is the thought that he wanted her to show up wearing nothing but her crown. Whatever the actual facts of the matter, Vashti wasn’t having any of it. She drew a line in the sand.

This section of chapter 1 does show that our behaviour (and especially the conduct of those in authority) does affect others for better or for worse. That is not to say Xerxes was right in anything he did, but just to underline the point about example. But note that in all of this the unmentioned and invisible God is preparing the way for His Queen to come to the throne (19b).

Someone said, ‘He moves behind the scenes, and He moves all the scenes He is behind.’