A Lesson Learned from a Lousy Example

Yesterday I read from Esther 1 and gleaned  a lesson from verses 17 through 22:

“For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 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pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes.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. 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.” The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memucan proposed. He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, proclaiming in each people’s tongue that every man should be ruler over his own household.

The context of these verses is as follows: King Ahasuerus  held a grand banquet for everyone in Susa. The chapter describes the banquet as being so grand it lasted seven days and everyone drank from golden vessels. During the banquet the king calls for his wife, Queen Vashti, to make an appearance in order to show off her beauty to the other guests. However, busy with her own banquet for women, she refused to adhere to the king’s request. As a result King Ahasuerus became enraged.

In verses 17 through 22 the king’s men compose an edict (a proclamation) that explains that the queen must be punished because she a performed a disservice not only to the king but to the entire province. The men feared that if the other women heard of the queen’s refusal, they too would think it was ok to disrespect their husbands. Due to the queen’s actions the king sent out his edict to all his provinces to remind them that the man is the master of the home – which in itself is a lesson to learn from this story, but not the one I want to share today.

Queen Vashti stood in a position of authority and fame; people looked to her as an example. As a result, her shortcomings could have influenced many other women’s actions. Although she is a lousy example, I learned from her mistakes and was reminded that my example matters. No, I am not a queen and no, I am not famous (thankfully). However my actions have an influence on those younger than me, who look to me as an example. What I say and do around them has either a positive or negative impact. My shortcomings not only shame myself, but they also mislead others whom I would hate to lead astray.

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