By Esther

I gape in horror! No, these men must be wrong, my husband would never ask me to do such a thing! There must be a mistake. I swallow and disguise my panic. I look at the seven stony-faced eunuchs.

“You are jesting, of course!” I exclaim, looking from one motionless face to another. “Mehuman, is this true?”

I have always trusted Mehuman. I know he will not lie to me. I move closer to inspect his face.

“Mehuman?” My jewels jingle as I take a step closer. I wait, brow raised.

He looks at me with sad eyes, bows and whispers, “Yes, my Lady, it is so. King Xerxes demands your presence and wishes for you to show your beauty to the guests.”

My stomach drops and dread fills my heart. No!

I clench my fist and turn away. I am humiliated, scared, horrified, disgusted! Dare I disobey the king? What will he do to me if I refuse this ‘invitation?’

My heart hammers in my chest at the thought of his rage at being disobeyed in front of his chief ministers. He may just choose to have me killed!

Suddenly the tapestries on the walls feel like they are crowding me in. It’s stifling in here! I need air and run towards my private garden, open the doors wide and step outside. Gulping hungrily for a few breaths of air, tears threaten to overflow.

I sit tentatively on the plush gold couch and stare at my surroundings. This is my favourite place in the mornings and evenings – it gives me a sense of peace and freedom. Tonight that peace has vanished into gloom. 

The white and red hangings fastened with cords of white linen onto marble pillars, the mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones, the vases filled with exotic flowers and plants – these are not enough to distract me today. A soft breeze sways the silk materials and I know that I must give the eunuchs my final answer.

I certainly don’t want to be killed for disobeying and embarrassing the King, my husband; nor do I want to parade inappropriately in front of those drunk men!

Some of my friends would say I’m foolish to be upset about this request. But how can I do this? I could never deprave myself to such levels! In the distance I hear the laughter of my female guests, enjoying themselves, celebrating, being merry. No one is aware of my predicament.

Subtle aromas waft through the air reminding me that they must now be serving the luscious desserts with fruits and nuts. My banquet tables have been filled with delicacies these past seven days; oohs and aahs escaping the women’s lips.

Was it only two weeks ago that I chose the menu for the women’s feast? The food has been delectable. Succulent grapes, candied turnips, stuffed pigeons with pistachio nuts and candied capers have adorned the food table and taken everyone’s breath away. Not to mention the sweetened seed and almond cakes. My favourite was the melt-in-your-mouth goat, marinated in Ethiopian oils, saffron and pomegranates. Divine! But how could I have foreseen this?

The past seven glorious days are now ruined for me. The joy: evaporated in one demand from the King.

I sink deeper into the silky cushions and close my eyes. I need to think. Clear my mind. Make a decision.

How Xerxes has changed! For the last six months he has exhibited the enormous wealth of his empire and the stunning beauty of his royal palace – proving that he holds more power than anyone else in the world! For six months he had entertained officials, ministers, princes and governors of the provinces. For six months he’s been treated like a god and gained admiration and respect from his guests.

Why on the last day of this seven-day banquet, has he decided he needs to show me off? Does he think I’m just another statue in his garden or a painting on his walls?

The more I think about it, the angrier I feel. How dare he! How dare he shame me like this? I am the queen! He has no right, does he?

Slowly I stand up. I know what I must do.

Never before has any queen refused her king, but today I will! I enter my bedchamber and the eunuchs bow when they see me. I motion for them to straighten up as I march to stand directly in front of Mehuman.

Unwavering, I surprise myself when my voice rings loud and clear: “Tell his Majesty the king, that I will not show my beauty to his guests! I respectfully decline.” My heart pounds furiously and my hands are shaking.  

Their faces transform in horror at the realisation of what this truly could mean. Pale, they stare at each other, then Mehuman speaks: “Your Highness! Do you know what you are saying?”

Panic has enveloped the room. The men stop and start, stumbling over each other’s words. I don’t understand what they are saying and I shake my head in confusion, rubbing my temples, “STOP!”


“Your majesty…” Harbona begins. “The king is drunk and will not take this news well. Please reconsider your decision.”

Dark eyes plead with me.

I exhale and shake my head, “My decision is final! Tell the King that I will not be coming.”

Every atom of my being screams in silent dread, but I force my voice to say otherwise.

The men try to argue again but I hold up my hand and stop their sentences mid-air. “My decision is final and nothing will change my mind.”

“What if the punishment is death?” Mehuman whispers.

I look at my hands and rub at them, trying to keep my composure. Tears fill my eyes and silently spill down my cheeks.

I look up, “Then, so be it!”


Wow! She is what I call a brave, admirable woman and I hope that you and I can one day stand up for what we believe is right like Vashti did all those years ago.

There will be times when you will have to face hard choices in life – times when you have to be valiant and strong even though the consequences will be raw and hard. But God will give you the strength you need. I pray that this story fills you with courage to face life’s challenges.

SIDE NOTE: Scholars believe that when Vashti was asked to show her ‘beauty’, it meant that the King asked her to parade naked in front of his male guests!

(You can find the full story of Queen Vashti in Esther 1:1-22)

Join our GIGi weekly inspirations: Free eBooks, sneak peeks, new podcast episodes, recipes, coupons and other goodies. (We won’t spam you!)

Take advantage of these amazing resources to help grow your kids faith journey.  If you’re a Teen girl, we’ve got some really special content for you!