(October 2, 2014)
It is hard to know what to make of Vashti and Esther. On the one hand, the king is clearly an unlikeable character. On the other, he ultimately makes the right choice (once influenced by Esther). His decree on Vashti was unreasonable by modern standards, but her denial of the king was likewise unreasonable by ancient standards.
There are a number of ways to view Vashti, but I think I choose to view her favorably. After all, she seems to have stood firm for what she believed was right. The cascading consequences of that action were ultimately good for the Jews (and the world, because saving the Jews facilitated the Savior of the world performing the Atonement).
She never received the benefits of her actions in mortality – she undoubtedly lived a difficult life going forward because of her decision. But I think it was the right decision. Perhaps she wasn’t the ideal – she would have been better served being a positive influence on the king rather than simply turning her back on him – but given the choices she had available for her she probably made the right one. And, in any event, the ultimate consequences were good.
We too likely make any number of bad choices (or best-available choices), but I hope that in our lives we will find that the Lord has turned those choices into the benefit of all as He did with Vashti.