Esther: Day 1

Vashti Angers the King

by

Today's Text: Esther 1:1-22, Psalm 32:7, Daniel 6:8, Daniel 6:13-18

Scripture Reading: Esther 1:1-22, Psalm 32:7, Daniel 6:8, Daniel 6:13-18

There’s an old saying that goes, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” Perhaps you’ve heard it? But God’s work in the lives of His people is far more magnificent than that.

Even better than closing doors and opening windows, what we find in the book of Esther is the active, invisible, and preemptive hand of God at work in the most unexpected places.

Today’s reading sets the stage by casting an ominous shadow over a seemingly happy time of feasting and abundance. The king throws a party meant to last for 180 days, but when he summons his queen so that he might show off her beauty to his guests, she refuses to come to him. This decision has repercussions that will reverberate throughout the kingdom, kicking the rest of the story into motion.

Readers respond in different ways to this conflict between the king and queen. How are we to view her defiance? How should we measure his reaction? But whether we interpret Vashti’s actions as brave or bad, the larger truth of this book remains unchanged. This story is about God and His providential care for His chosen people in exile. In the book of Esther and throughout all of Scripture, God is the main character of every story.

Though His name is not directly mentioned, God’s presence is evident in this Old Testament book. And His sovereignty and goodness are not dependent upon our reactions and interpretations. When faced with an unexpected turn of events or unwelcome challenge, most of us turn to scheming and problem solving, trying to figure things out and then “fix” them as we see fit. But the book of Esther shows us that God does not go around simply reacting to whatever we throw at Him. He doesn’t work that way. No, He acts first. His rescue plans are already in place—even before danger comes our way.  

God’s involvement in our lives is so much better than closed doors and open windows. In the story of Esther, and in our story of salvation, God designs our deliverance even before man begins to devise our destruction.

The book of Esther is short, rich, and ultimately points to Christ overcoming death by giving His own life—a ransom for us all. As you read, look for the active, invisible, preemptive hand of God. Consider the ways God has designed your own deliverance, and imagine the invisible ways He is caring for you even now.

God is good. And He is at work.

SRT-Esther-instagram Day1

  • Jaundalynn

    Unebbievalle how well-written and informative this was.

  • Luciana

    We just arrived from the Saturday service at our service, and having some quiet time and reading through this devotional really brought something to my attention. Even when my world feels like it’s falling apart and I feel like all I am doing is treading water to stay afloat with all of my motherly and wifely duties – God is in the midst of my storm with me and he has a plan. Before I could even think of my self-destructing act, my Lord had an escape plan ready for me. How wonderful that I have a Father who is there for me each time I fall. Sometimes, his love is overwhelming.

  • Molly Ann

    This is my first reading plan and I’m loving this app

  • God was truly speaking to me through this message today. I haven’t been keeping up with my devotionals as well as I should and this was the first day in a couple months that I have dived back in. I’ve been struggling with what to do next in my career and planning and trying to take it in my own hands. I was feeling very lost and overwhelmed. That was until I opened up my bible today and God quieted my heart. God’s plan is so much greater than I could imagine and He already has cared for me. Psalm 32:7 spoke directly to me and showed me that God has my life in His hands always, and is my refuge. God is good!

    • Amie

      I feel the same I just stared this study today, and it was like God’s perfect timing for what is going on in my life right now. When they said God designs are deliverance before men can even make their plans against you i was like WHOA! God you are amazing!

  • danielle

    Hi there! Just wanted to thank yall SO STINKING MUCH for everything yall have done! I can speak for many, but yall are totally changing lives:) Love reading Esther this week!! So cool to see the book in a new perspective each time I read it! Thank you again!

    Danielle Parker
    http://www.inspireblg.com

  • MaryBeth

    I was blown away by the quote, ” His rescue plans are already in place—even before danger comes our way.” I’m early in my marriage and things are really difficult for a myriad of reasons and it’s so easy to just plot and scheme and say, “If only I did this or tried this or said this, maybe it would be the catalyst” but the truth is 1. God is faithful 2. God is working and 3. Everything is a process that is bigger than just me. Resting in and remembering this truth and cultivating trust is going to do far more than anything else, even if it’s sometimes the last resort.

    • Leah

      You’re absolutely right that resting and trusting are key actions for a rough time in marriage. I am sending prayers for you! The beginning of marriage can be a very hard season, and it’s hard partly because you’re so new to it and learning how to be so intimately tied to another person who is different than you. As a testimony to God’s power at work, my husband and I are slowly coming out of a dark time in our marriage, a fog that descended when we started having kids and had less time and energy for each other. There were times that I could not see a way out and back to our more tender days, but God is faithful and he is leading us there. I pray the same for you!

      • MaryBeth

        Thank you so much, Leah! Stories from others are so helpful in bringing hope!

  • Kathleen Raygoza

    I keep comparing Vashti’s relationship to the king with Esther’s. (Trying not to think too far ahead!) Later, Esther defies the king more boldly, and the king still loves her deeply. I have to wonder if Vashti and the king had much of a relationship at all, or even respect for one another. But, regardless of Vashti being “brave or bad,” God knows he wants Esther in Vashti’s position. And he knows exactly why Vashti is the right person for Esther to replace. So cool!

  • Joining two days late! What struck me just from the passage for Day 1 in Esther and also in Daniel, was the contrast between worldly kings and God as king. Worldly kings are driven by pride and power, which is why disobedience is met with punishment. But God rules from a place of love. He allows us to choose to obey and follow him, from our own choice and not out of a fear of punishment. We are under no obligation, but we know that a more abundant life is waiting if we do follow his commands.

    • Karina Feliciano

      Very well Said. God is such a loving and caring God.

    • Laura

      Bethany I agree!! I too am joining late and noticed the earthly demands of the kings and their egos. So grateful our father in heaven truly loves us and not only if we come when like the king snapped his fingers, after All that feasting I don’t
      Blame cash it I for not going, actually.

    • Laura

      Vashiti I mean, darn auto correct, lol

  • What a beautiful reminder that God is crafting our lives and that I need to trust Him more instead of manipulating and hoping for the best.

  • Oh wow… I feel like I’m doing so much spinning these days, trying to do what I’m meant to, trying to figure out what that is, trying to understand the right ways forward. What a gentle, beautiful reminder that God has already worked this out and is never just reacting to my panicked heart. In this moment, that is enough to soothe my spirit.

  • God is “designing our deliverance.” What a way to put it!

  • I love this book and continue to find new details each time I read. I love the way this devotion didn’t even focus on the contents of it’s characters but on the character of God. Love this.

  • I love the first chapter in Esther. It is an example of God turning all things to good. Vashti refused the king who then killed her because of his poor choices and his lousy good ‘ol boys club, but God is about to take this situation and made something of it, just like he always does.

    • Irina

      Hi! Where did you get that king killed vashti?

      • Stephanie

        I meant to type banished and looked for a way to edit. It was an easy slip for me since my entire childhood I believed that he killed her and realized only a dozen or so years ago that that isn’e what is says. :)

  • When I first read Esther, it seemed like a good story about a women who saved her people from destruction and annihilation. God’s name is no where to be found in the words, but after deep study it is completely evident that God’s name may not be in the words but God can be seen through out every twist and turn the Book of Esther takes. His presence may at times be subtle and have the reader wondering if this could possibly be God or blatant and out right that leads the reader to simply say “Duh”. Every single thing that happens is a chain reaction that fulfills God’s plan and tells God’s story. There are many possible reasons Vashti chose to ignore her husband’s orders. One could be because she simply had no respect for her husband as her king or as her husband. (Xerxes was considered to be pompous, narcissistic, and materialistic. I mean he had a 6 month long banquet so he could flaunt his riches and wealth to his subjects and so that he could essentially bribe his subjects to fight for him in a battle so that he could obtain Greece, which had yet to be firmly placed under his thumb. A battle that was a humiliating lose for Xerxes) Another reason could be because Xerxes holds a throne that was taken from King Nebuchadnezzar, who just happens to be Queen Vashti’s grandfather. Vashti may have believed that she rightfully deserved the throne that was snatched from her grandfather. Blood is thicker than water!! No matter the reasons behind Vashti’s decision to say “No”, it had to be done so that the crown would be opened for a young Jewish girl to capture and tame the heart of the great and powerful Xerxes. God’s name may not have been mentioned but he can clearly be seen. I am reminded of a wonderful quote written by Beth Moore “When we trust our lives to the hand and pen of an unseen but ever-present God, He will write our lives into his story and every last one of them will turn out to be a great read. With a grand ending”. The book of Esther is a wonderful example of an unseen but ever-present God who wrote Esther’s life into his story. Vashti “betrayal” toward Xerxes may have seemed ultimate but it was Vashti’s ultimate betrayal (shall I say ultimate sacrifice, because lets face it, Vashti risked life and limb when she said that two letter word) that paved the way for Esther to save her people.

  • 12 But Queen Vashti refused… in a time when you were valued little, your station was really only a title, your value lies only in the production of heirs and the appearance of obedience- how brave must she have been to say NO! Knowing the environment she would have stepped into, knowing that she would have been paraded in front of “even the least of them” for her beauty as a plaything (look at how amazing and manly I am because of how beautiful my wife is)- she said NO.
    What always threw me when I first read this story was what appeared to be a lack of backstory for why she said no. But when we really take into consideration what the circumstance were (180 days of drinking and celebration), who would voluntarily subject themselves to that? As brave as Esther is… Vashti is just as courageous. And our God knew this…

    • Cristi

      I completely agree with your interpretation. I have often wondered why Vashti said no to begin with….It truly does go to show that Vashti was courageous for her time.

  • I know I’m going to love this study!

  • Lauren Leising

    It is so comforting to remember that the Father already has a plan to restore us to Himself. No matter the season, His plan always leads to fullness in His presence and things that we may fear or question in this moment are still a part of His design. This is so reassuring and has helped me to lay down my own desire for control.

  • I’m at a very stressful chapter in my life. Everything seems so chaotic, and I am constantly battling anxiety. It is heartening to think that even though this feels like my destruction, God could be at this moment orchestrating my deliverance.

    • Arielle

      I, too, am in a stressful chapter in my life. What makes it worse is that it’s actually at a time when I should not be stressed. God granted me a great blessing, but it seems like so many things are trying to destroy that very blessing. But God is always in control and He always has a plan. I can’t see it, but I know that these things are also working for my goof in some way. Even if I never understand why, I know that He does and that’s enough for me.

    • Tiffany

      This was my favorite also, I battle with depression and anxiety and it’s the most calming thing to know God already has a solution.. and a plan.

  • Armybandwife

    I loved the reminder that God is working even before we are aware of our destruction.

  • Jeralyn Egger

    I am reading this story with new eyes. The one sentence that impacted me the most is…”God designs our deliverance even before man begins to devise our destruction.” What hope that brings! Nothing catches my God by surprise.

    • TMO

      I agree Jeralyn this sentence always brings me incredible hope and forces me to looks at my life through Gods eyes -

      • Kendra

        Jeralyn, I also am re-reading Esther and felt the same impact when reading that line in the devotional! The first time reading Esther I was more focused on the physical characters of the book, knowing that God isn’t mentioned at all. But in re-reading it, I am going to focus more on identifying God’s presence in the book of Esther and in my own life, which is usually a struggle. But I pray I improve in discernment!

    • Melissa

      Interesting to me that the king sought wisdom from others. Many times I look to others before seeking God only to realize they sometimes “stir the pot” of emotions. God will always call me to reconcile, seek unity and peace. Many times our peers give much different advice, even Christians.

  • I also grew up thinking “How arrogant and proud was Vashti!” My fiance and I studied the first two chapters and when he mentioned it, it was as if a scale had fallen off of my eyes! Wow, what a brave woman. She may not have known what exactly the consequence of refusal would be, but I bet she definitely knew it would be grave. You get the tone that the laws of Persia and Medes were very stiff and unforgiving. I am definitely impressed that she held her grounds and refused to be objectified simply for the pleasure of her drunk king and his drunk men. Bear in mind, she was also holding court for the noble women of the kingdom. In utter awe of her!

    • Cori

      So interesting, because I grew up with the “Go Vashti!” mindset!

  • Erin Niedergall

    Let’s remember the king and his advisors did not deal with the matter biblically. They have approached this situation from the standpoint of their eastern, chauvinistic culture, not from the principles of the Word of God. No doubt they saw women as inferior to men to be used by men for their pleasure.

  • Linda Lockett

    I like that Vashti stood up and no she wont be exploted so to say. And I dont like that her husband even would do this to her I know that you should do what he says but he was waisted. Did he really even k ow what he was doing.

    • Leenise

      this is a good point to bring up! i like to remind myself that drinking and the effect it has on a person does not excuse the way the person behaves when under the influence! it’s important to take responsibility for those actions, and i think it might be reasonable to say that the king might have acted so harshly bc that kind of behavior was expected from him and advised to him by his peers

  • Churchmouse

    So often I recognize God’s hand only in hindsight. Perhaps that is simply evidence that He does indeed work preemptively My present lack of awareness does not mean He isn’t intervening on my behalf to bring about His plan. On the contrary, He is ever intervening. I’m told to walk in faith, not sight. I’m told to trust He is good and He is at work – in my past, in my present and in my future.

  • Reeve Currie

    What I find so powerful about this first chapter is that because of a woman’s defiance, an order is created to keep other women from straying from their husbands’ authority. Whether or not Vashti had good reasons for her refusal, I find it a bit ironic that an order to keep women in line eventually leads to a strong female queen who saves an entire people group. While there is of course a good submission and respect that women are to have for their husbands, the King’s order is meant to control women and keep them from having their own thoughts and minds. Who could have predicted that searching for a new beautiful wife would lead to such a courageous woman standing before the King?!
    https://www.thegirlontheverge.com

  • Caroline

    I have never heard that saying so thanks for sharing!

    Thank you God that you write our stories and what you start, you will always finish!!!! Thank you for deliverance

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • When we enter into the story we see a big banquet that is simply out of control and the queen is summoned. Based on everything we read Vashti paid a cost of standing up for herself. But we have also remember there was a history prior to this picture. Was it simply pride from King Ahasuerus that sent her away. It does seem a bit unjust. As someone who is the “innocent” participant in a divorce I feel her pain. Was there a history of these kinds of interactions, infidelity, etc.? After all she was one of many wives but she was “the queen” and she served on his pleasure – he wasn’t operating under Mosiac Law. Was he simply a prideful but useful vessel for God’s plan to save the Jewish nation which his actions facilitated? Hmm, I’m sure there could be really good fiction from both perspectives of this scene we are given a peek. What I do know is God was in control and actually gave us the Book of Esther. Did God not plan for there to be a Queen Vasthi? Esther was planned by God to become queen. I suppose kinds of instances that we know the Bible and kind of recoile “that can’t right”. Can such a thing be outside of God’s sovernity? Having been somewhat in Vasthi’s shoes of a broken marriage you have to hope whether it was his/hers/both’s fault that God redeemed her remaining days.

  • Misty Stangl

    i grew up thinking that queen Vashti was arrogant and rebellious, i never considered her brave til i read today. she was brave to stand up to the king and Esther dose the same in the future. Its amazing the change in the King through this story as well. God was softening his heart though this whole story. I love seeing Gods work through history and the Bible. he is in the background of all our lives. I just hope that I can show Christ through me and I can be as brave as some of these women.

  • AimeeJoy

    When I read this passage, I am so proud of Vashti for standing up for her sense of dignity. King Ahasuerus, in his drunkenness, was abusing the idea of a wife’s respect for her husband. I wonder how many christian women feel like their dignity has been lost because a husband has used respect as a manipulation in any sense (emotional, sexual, physical, etc…). I am unmarried, but I wanted to bring up this idea because unfortunately, so often women do not feel like it is justified to feel the hurt they feel as a result of the respect between a wife and a husband is skewed to gain control. In a commentary on this section of Esther says, “A wife’s respect is the most precious thing she can give her husband. However, the means used here to gain and preserve this respect were foolish. A man cannot demand or coerce respect from his wife – if it isn’t freely given, then it isn’t worth anything.” My sisters, see the character of God in this chapter…God gives dignity. He is not the king in this first chapter, ruled by external forces. God sent Jesus to become undignified on the cross, so that we may live in the dignity of God’s new covenant with his people– In which a loving respect overflows from us in response to his love and compassion. I love the contrast and opportunity for healing and dignity restored in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    • ashley

      That’s a really good point. I feel like Vashti is often portrayed as bratty but in reality she might have simply not wanted to make a fool of herself. Or maybe he did that sort of thing all the time and she had enough.

    • Reeve Currie

      “God gives dignity. He is not the king in this first chapter, ruled by external forces. God sent Jesus to become undignified on the cross, so that we may live in the dignity of God’s new covenant with his people…” LOVE this – amen, amen!
      https://www.thegirlontheverge.com

  • Katalina

    When you read stories such as this one, you try and relate it back to your own life in some way. Yes, times are different but we can still go through the same motions. Destruction doesn’t have to come from war or by someone else doing us harm. Don’t we have to ability to self-destruct in the worse ways? Aren’t there people who want to see us fail and make our lives impossible so that we break down and give up? Yet God is ever present and already has our deliverance planned out for when our time to rise again comes. He is the same God that delivered His people a long time ago. If we are His people, what do we have to fear? Who do we have to fear? We have the King of Kings who’s active in our lives in more ways than we can ever fathom. We may not see it right away, but your God is my same Father, and I promise that He has nor will He ever turn His back on you. If you feel like your deliverance is just a myth that’s never going to happen, hold fast and seek Him more. He will deliver you now and forever from anything and anyone that plans to break you down and destroy you ❤️

  • So the scripture from Daniel 6…the king, who created and signed the edict, wants to save Daniel (who broke the edict)? And followed through with I, but spent the night fasting and without sleep when he threw Daniel in the den? Right?

    • Leigh

      Yes. King Darius actually respected Daniel and was tricked into signing that edict. Once he signed it, though, it could not be repealed. He is overjoyed when Daniel survives and has the men who accused Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. He then issues a decree that all of his people must fear and revere Daniel’s God.
      In the middle of leading a Bible Study on Daniel right now. :) Hope this helps. God’s hand is so evident in that story as well. He uses everything for his glory!

    • Cindy

      Jill, your understanding is correct; however the king. Darius, was kind of set up. A group of other administrators who served the king alongside Daniel wanted Daniel gone because the king wanted to set Daniel over them. As a result, they appealed to Darius’ ego and got him to sign an edict they had concocted, He did so, apparently without giving it much thought. In the end, Daniel is miraculously protected and saved by the true God, his accusers are thrown into the den of lions and destroyed, and King Darius writes a new edict saying that the people of the land must fear and reverence the God of Daniel, the true and living God.

  • Stephanie

    Often we don’t understand why things have to happen the way they do on earth and this is no exception- in the end, it was to show God’s glory and the rest will always be a mystery to us.

  • “Consider the ways God has designed your own deliverance,… ” I love the challenge here. God is always at work in our lives, and has been since birth. Allowing, directing, redeeming. And He doesn’t sit and devise – He acts! And on our behalf. Thanks for the challenge of this viewpoint today. He is active today in whatever lies ahead. Love this.

  • There is a powerful peace in trusting the unseen arm of God. This reminds me of a previous study about God being the shade on my right hand. I must therefore be at his lady side near His heart and His right hand of power is free to defend me and supply my need.

    The self centered earthy king relies on counselors to fix his mess but the real King of all has everything already in place, including the little earthly king.

  • M’Lynn

    What a reminder that GOD is the main character, (in all things) even in a book where He isn’t directly mentioned!! I think what resonates with me most though is how God is at work and ever present even if He isn’t mentioned or speaking aloud. So at times when I’m wondering if He sees or hears or is even near, I can remember that He is ALWAYS there working in the background; working out His devine plan. I can rest in His sovereignty.

  • I’m just joining again after having left the SRT community for some time. I logged on today so excited to see that we are starting a new study, and on one of my favorite books.
    Such a great reminder that “God designs our deliverance even before man begins to devise our destruction.” He’s so sovereign and we sometimes forget that when in the midst of tough circumstances and the hard moments of life.
    But thanks be to God! He’s already worked it out for me, for my good! He had fashioned my deliverance before I even hit the tough time! What an awesome God!

    • She Reads Truth

      Welcome back Jataime, we’re so glad to have you here! – Abby, The SRT Team

  • I sometimes forget the truth that God is always actively involved in my life and in the lives of those I love. As much as I love my family He loves them more than I can even begin to fathom. He wants the best for them and that best is for all of us is to be “conformed to the image of his Son…” (Rom. 8:29). The rest of that passage says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (vv. 37-39).
    Every thing that happens in our lives can be used to grow us to be more like Him.
    “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” (Phi. 1:6)
    Have a blessed day!

  • It’s interesting to think about the contrast between King Xerxes and God as our King. Both wealthy and generous, but with Xerxes it’s all about him- looking good, getting what he wants, being honoured, being in charge…
    God, on the other hand, is a different kind of king- not lording it over us but humbling himself to live among us, coming to earth as a human, not banishing us for our disobedience but lovingly pursuing us to bring us back.

    • Heather

      Exactly, Lesley. His anger at Vashti disobeying his order to come strikes me more as embarrassment and a blow to his ego. In contrast, the Lord becomes angry when we are disobedient but then, I believe, it is more a case of disappointment.

      • cj8of8

        I am impressed it write, that I believe Jesus weeps at and for our unbelief. All of John chapter 11 shows this. Those who walk with Him daily didn’t get it.. His closes friends need to be told it. .. And He wept at Lazarus’ tomb under the criticism of all the people who didn’t believe. His love, His heart, for us is so much greater than we can possibly comprehend. Like the king.. We tend to look at our selves and everything going on around us and happening to us.. If we would just focus and believe. . We would see the glory of God. John 11:40 less of me oh God. . More of you Jesus.

      • Sindy

        I completely agree, Heather. I believe God gets disappointed when we are disobedient, very similar to a parent-child relationship. He is a forgiving and loving God regardless of our mistakes. That challenges me to be more patient and forgiving towards others.

  • The reminder that the main character in Esther is God and the main character in my story is not me but God such a powerful reminder this morning. When I don’t understand the story I trust Him as the one the story is about. I was in trust and walk in His wisdom. He calls me to be faithful and He is always faithful.

    • Nancy

      Love this reminder!

    • Heather

      This story also reminds me that even though we may not feel God’s presence in a particular experience, He has been there, is there, and will be there moulding that experience for His Glory. While He seems so absent in this reading, He is actually already many steps ahead of the story, paving the Way! Hallelujah!

    • Nina

      ❤️yes!

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