Vashti is one of those odd Bible women who has, in some amazing way, become a heroine to many Christian women. How did she reach this stage? By humiliating and disobeying her husband, who also happened to be her King and the ruler of a great empire. How did she get to be a heroine? Well, it takes some creativity.

The story, of course, is in Esther Chapter 1. The ruler of the Empire (Ahasuerus) was having a great year. His power was unchallenged through the 127 provinces of his empire. He held a great festival, lasting six months, during which his local rulers all traveled to his capital and were dined and entertained (all while planning an attack on Greece, by the way). His wealth was immense and his people (and rulers) were amazed at his wealth, his kindness, and his power. The fact that he could bring local leaders so far from their communities shows how stable was his kingdom.

After the big event, Ahaseurus held a second event. The purpose of the second event was to honor the people of his capital, who had made the first event such a success. This second event was to last a full week (seven days), with the people of Susa (the capital) invited to come to the king's palace and feast on his food, drink from his wine cellar, and rejoice in the greatness of their kingdom. They even had a secondary feast, hosted by Vashti, for the wives of the city. 

Two wonderful events showing the power, the kindness, and the greatness of their king. The people rejoiced. The king was greatly honored. All was well.

On the seventh day, the king decided to top the whole event with a great moment. His people, who had so supported him in the six-month event, would be honored by the presence of his queen, Vashti, at their banquet. He asked her to come to the banquet, to wear her royal robe and crown, and show herself to the people of Susa. The people would have been blown away by this event. She was, by all reports, a beautiful queen. He wanted to show everyone, at this final event, the final glory of his beautiful queen. Had she come, he would have been even more greatly honored. The people would have gone home filled with the glory of their king, of their queen, and of their kingdom. 

But she refused. She refused to come when her husband called her. She refused to wear the royal robe and crown. She refused to honor him and their people. Her refusal ruined the entire event. Her refusal caused people, on the way home, to speak not of his glory but of her refusal. Her refusal brought him shame and cast a pall over the whole event. 

Yet, people see her as a heroine. She did nothing in the whole story except host one party and humiliate her husband and king. Yet, many people defend her. How?

Well, some people claim that the party was a "drunken orgy," but this is not something scripture says. Scripture says the party was entirely seemly. In fact, the writer makes clear that no one was forced to drink (v. 8). If you believe that the people of Susa would go to the king's palace, to be honored, and just get drunk, then you are simply inventing things to believe. It was not an orgy, it was a celebration. 

Well, some people claim the king was "drunk," but the scripture says only that "the heart of the king was merry with wine." That is, after all, why God gave us wine, according to Psalm 104:  
     You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
        and plants for man to cultivate,
     that he may bring forth food from the earth
        and wine to gladden the heart of man,
    oil to make his face shine
        and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

Merry with wine does not mean drunk. Drunk means drunk. (Gen. 9:21). The king did no sin here. 

Some people even claim that women in that time were not allowed to be seen publicly. Not only is this simply inventing something which neither history nor the Bible tells us, it is nonsense. Why would the queen have a royal robe and crown if she were never to be seen?

The Bible does not excuse her at all. The king is angry at her, his ministers admit her sin clearly (no one defends her), and she is punished by being permanently excluded from his company and being replaced by another queen. After all, what good is a queen who will not appear before her people? What good is a queen who will not wear her crown and robe and sit beside her husband in glory?

Vashti was wrong. Everything in the story makes clear that she was wrong. He was her husband and her king. She should have obeyed him for both of those reasons. Instead, she humiliated him, she ruined the glory of his celebration for his people, and she lessened the respect in which he was held by his people. 

Imagine that Vashti had done what was requested. Imagine her appearing at the head table with her husband (or perhaps on thrones together). Imagine the excitement of the people, the glory of the moment. There is no greater glory for a man than to have people admire his wife. There is no moment of glory for a man that is not greater when his wife is there with him. If she had come when asked, she would have taken part in a moment of glory that would have resounded throughout the Empire, as people declared their love for her and her husband.

Instead, she lost everything. 

Why do modern wives want to admire her? What is it about us that we try so hard to find reasons to avoid doing what is right? Wives, all too often, simply refuse to do what they do not want to do, then try to come up with some explanation to justify their actions. They defend Vashti by making up excuses, trying to show that she was right and her husband was wrong. In their own lives, they justify their failures by claiming some error on the part of their husbands. Women's classes are filled with "but he ought to" and justifications for the failure to be good wives. Their pride causes their sin and then causes them to justify their sin, as they try to justify Vashti.

Have you ever refused to go with your husband when you were invited? Maybe you thought the meeting would be too boring. Maybe you thought his friends were not really very interesting. Maybe you just did not want to be with your husband in a place where people really praised him. Why did you tell him "no"?

Vashti was replaced by Esther, a godly woman who honored and respected her husband and, thereby, was used by God to save her people.  Who will you be today, Vashti or Esther?
Michal is a Bible woman whose story is fascinating, but whose "fame" is based on a single story in which she comes out poorly. She is yet another example of how harshly we often judge people in the Bible. 

Michal was the daughter of Saul, first King of Israel. She was the younger of two daughters. In 1 Samuel 18, we are told that Saul proposed to have David marry his older daughter, but David refused and the older daughter was married to someone else. We are also told that Michal loved David. 
Saul, thinking to benefit thereby, decided to marry Michal to David, hoping to use her against David, so he arranged for people to talk to David and convince him to marry Michal. He thought Michal would be a snare to David (as so many wives can be). Eventually, he succeeded and David married Michal. But she was not a snare, she was a good wife who loved her husband, so much so that Saul came to fear what he had done. "But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David."

Michal became a great strength to David, it appears, and convinced him to flee in order to avoid Saul's trap against him. She "let him down" from his house (to avoid Saul's watchers) and made up an image to lie in bed and appear to be him, giving him time to escape. Eventually, after he escaped, she was sent to be wife to another man, Palti, we are told in 1 Samuel 25. 

When David returned, after Saul's death, his price for peace was the return of Michal, a measure of his love for her despite his marrying several other women during the time she was gone. We are told that he refused to negotiate with Abner unless Michal was returned to him. We are also told that her second husband was distraught over losing her and that he wept and followed her until he was forced to leave by Abner. 2 Samuel 3:12-16.

It is a wonderful story, isn't it? She loved her husband. She loved him more than she loved her father and more than she loved her own life. She was precious to him (he insisted on her return) and she saved his life. When she was forced to take a second husband, she was also apparently an Excellent Wife to him as well, as he abandoned all dignity and followed her, weeping at the thought of losing her.

She was, and is, a great inspiration in a time where a woman had no real choice in where she went. She loved her husband and was a great benefit to him. Yet, she is not known for any of these things. She is known for a final failing. 

In 2 Samuel 6, we are told that David danced before the Ark of God as it was brought into the city, wearing only a linen ephod. Michal "despised" him for behaving in such a way and confronted him. He responded that he was honoring God who had chosen him and would do so even if she despised him. 

That is what we all remember. We remember the one moment in her life where her love for her husband failed because of her pride. She was distressed by his behavior and by what she perceived as the lewdness of his dancing before other women. Her words are remembered, even though the rest of her life is not remembered at all. It is unfair and sad that this is the case. 

David is not primarily remembered for his sin of adultery and murder. Abraham is not primarily remembered for his sin of lying or fathering a son with a servant girl. But Michal's service is forgotten in her moment of weakness. 

So what do we take from the story of Michal? We learn the truth that an Excellent Wife, like everyone, must be careful of falling. Michal loved David and was a faithful wife to her philandering husband, even accepting his multiple marriages and his years of absence. If not for one error, we would remember her well and she would be in all the Bible studies we write on being a good wife.

What will people remember of you? Will they remember your years of faithfulness and love? Or will they remember a moment of weakness and failure? Stay strong in your faith, stay faithful in your love.