Soren Kierkegaard – a Danish philosopher-poet from the 1800s. He once told a tale of his true Sovereign:
There, a glorious King. The most majestic of Kings, whom was known throughout all the known world. He was brilliant. And he was in love.
In love with a lowly peasant woman. A woman hardly known by any who lived, and she lived in the dirt on the streets. And the King genuinely loved her.
Now this King could have anything he pleased.
Any resolution that he degreed was unquestionably carried out. Every politician feared his wrath, every foreign country trembled before his power; nobody dared refrain anything from him.
The King could indeed woo the lowly peasant woman and have her ascend up to his royal throne.
He could appear before the peasant in all his splendour; He could have the sun of his glory rise over her street and let her forget herself in adoring admiration of him. He could display his power and might, bring her to himself, and put on a royal wedding, one never seen before in any Kingdom.
But a concern awakened in the King's soul at the thought. Alone he grappled with a sorrow in his heart:
Would the street woman be happy with this?
What if she never wanted this all along? What if she never wanted him all along? What if her mind wandered back to her old life, and old street family, and in the secret was sorrowful about her royal life? What would be the richness of shared love? There would be none.
How could he tell if she was just wooed by his brilliance, or if she actually loved him? In taking this path their love would be discontent. Perhaps even if the woman did indeed possess gratitude for her new found life, and was so grateful to the King for his closeness, the King still would never be satisfied.
An act that could only form from the depths of his true character, the King himself descended into her world…
The King appears as the lowliest of all lowly peasants, the form of a servant. This form of a servant is not something put on like the King’s authoritative cloak – it is his true nature. For it is his love that earnestly and truthfully wills him to be the equal to the lowly peasant woman.
If you look at him now, can you see that he is the King? Is he? Where’d he go? You see, only those who vulnerably know him can decipher… there, there he is.
He is the King, but he has no place to lay his head. He is the King, yet he walks as if angels are having to carry him so that he does not stumble. He is the King and yet his eyes rest with concern for the dirty peasants of the world.
As the lowliest of all, he must suffer all things. He must endure all things, hunger in the desert, and even be forsaken unto death, to be absolutely the equal of the woman whom he genuinely loves.
His whole life is a story of suffering in order to be absolutely human with her, identifying with all realities of her life – including death itself. It is love that suffers, love that gives all, so that he may truly know the peasant woman, and truly ask her, without power, “Do you really love me?” Any easier way would have been a deception.
What then happens to this King?
When an oak nut is planted in a small clay pot, the pot will eventually break. When new wine is poured into old leather bottles, the bottles will eventually burst. When the brilliant King reveals himself as the frail peasant, the vessel will, in fact, eventually, crack.
Now revealed to the peasant as a Servant king – his true form, what a difficult sort of re-birth there is to understand. All too sovereign, a sort of resurrection to his kingly state must take place.
It is less terrifying to fall upon one’s face while the mountains tremble at the King’s voice, than to sit with him as his equal. Yet the King’s concern is precisely to sit this way.
The peasant is wooed. Not by his splendour, but in his love.
Now I can say, “I sit here with my King in wonder.”
This is Kierkegaard’s King. And he is my King. Is he yours?
Andrew Hill is a true-blue Kiwi, born and reared in Aotearoa New Zealand. He has lived between Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton, chasing his passion: Knowing God. Andrew has studied theology through various institutions, served as a Youth Pastor and as an Associated Pastor at a couple of Baptist Churches, and currently spends time with people with disabilities as a Community Support Worker through Spectrum Care. Andrew has just finished writing his first novel which he intends to publish shortly, and for fun, live streams on twitch.tv @theophilus_nz.
Andrew’s previous articles may be viewed at https://www.christiantoday.com.au/by/andrew-hill