Vashti was the Queen of Persia married to king Xerxes. She was deposed from her position for failing to show up when summoned by the king, this event paved the way for Esther to become the next queen of Persia who was loved by the king.
Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. ESTHER 2:17
Vashti may have been a woman ahead of her time. In today’s world, she would certainly be praised for her resolute claim to her rights. Feminists today would applaud her refusal to parade before King Xerxes’ party guests as mere eye candy.
Whether she refused to come because she was busy, angry, not feeling well, or sticking to principles, we don’t know. But what we do know is that refusing to come when the king summoned you was certainly not an offense that could be easily overlooked. Not only was her act seen as defiant, but Xerxes and his counselors feared that if Vashti went
unpunished, women throughout the nation would be inspired to rebel against their husbands. Though this reasoning smacks of chauvinism to our modern sensibilities, it was no small offense to the king and people of ancient Persia.
Queen Vashti was stripped of her title, which paved the way for Esther’s rise to royalty. During the ancient Near Eastern equivalent of a royal beauty contest, Esther caught the king’s attention and worked her way into his heart.
Vashti probably never understood why these events transpired in her life, and she may have felt that she had been denied fair treatment. And though these feelings would be natural, the events in her life led to the saving of the Hebrew people. Because Persia’s new queen had Xerxes’ ear, Esther was able to save her people from certain destruction.
Many of us don’t get the chance to see how troubling events in our lives work toward God’s plan or the greater good. However the story of Vashti and Esther serves as a reminder that God uses all kinds of events to ensure His greater plan is advanced.
Xerxes is known in history for his unsuccessful assault on Greece early in his reign. It is possible that this event took place just before or after the great banquet described in Esther 1.