On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.
Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom): “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs?” Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people. Esther 1:10-22 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.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV
Sarah and Adoniram had been married for forty years. Adoniram was a prosperous farmer who had promised his wife before they were married that he would build her a beautiful new house before their first year was over, but he had never kept that promise. He had built new barns for his cows, but his family still lived in the same poor little house that they had started their marriage in. Then Adoniram built another beautiful barn for some new cows, and his wife was very upset. She reminded him of the promise he had made to her before they had been married, and showed him how shabby and poor their old house was, but her husband wouldn’t change his mind. So when he went out of town for a few days, Sarah and her two children moved all of their furniture into the beautiful new barn and turned it into their home. When Adoniram came home and discovered what Sarah had done, he realized that he had not treated his wife and children well, and he promised he would fix up the new barn to make it into a lovely house.
The story of King Ahasuerus and Queen Vashti didn’t end so happily. When the king called for his wife to come to the men’s party so he could show off her beauty, she refused to come. She probably didn’t want to have a bunch of men staring at her, especially since they would have been drinking too much wine. God wants wives to respect their husbands, but he also wants husbands to treat their wives with kindness and consideration and love, and the king didn’t seem to care about his wife’s feelings. Ahasuerus became very angry, and after getting some advice from his wise men he divorced Vashti and removed her from being the queen. He even made it a law that men should be the bosses of their homes, and if their wives spoke a different language, they had to speak their husband’s language at home. King Ahasuerus cared most about his own pride and of not having people look down on him because Queen Vashti had disobeyed him.
Sometimes Jesus is pictured as a bridegroom, and his people are pictured as his bride. Jesus isn’t like Adoniram or Ahasuerus. He loves his people dearly, and even though we’ve disobeyed him and turned away from him, his love caused him to come to earth and give his life for us. We had been separated from him, but he brought us back, and he covered our ugly sins with his perfect holiness. Usually a bride provides her own wedding gown, but Jesus provided us with his righteousness and forgiveness, which washes us clean of all our sins and covers us like a beautiful wedding dress. Husbands and wives don’t always love and respect each other perfectly in this world, but in Jesus we know what perfect love and care are like.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your amazing love and care and forgiveness. Amen.