Tuesday, May 14, 2013

History Speaks: King Alfred

O God, our Maker, throned on high
The earth is Thine, and Thine the sky
Th' adoring sun obeys Thy will,
And countless stars Thy laws fulfill
The length'ning light of summer day
Nature proclaims Thy sovereign skill
Man, and man only, spurns Thy will
The wicked sit on earth's high seat
And tread holy 'neath their feet
Good goes so crookedly astray
Bright deeds lie hidden oft away
Great God! Who seest from above
Regard us with Thy pitying love
Perplexed by doubts with toil and strife
We ask more light- we long for life 
This is a lovely hymn I came across in my history curriculum this year. It stuck out to me mainly because the author was a king, not a monk or a martyr.

Often I am so disappointed when I read about real life kings. As a little girl my ideas about Medieval times were that they full of beautiful princesses being rescued by handsome knights, and there were good and mighty kings who fought to defend their people.

Reality check, a lot of kings were real creeps. It saddens me to think of all of the suffering that was caused just by one single, greedy individual.

Because of this I always spark up with I read about kings who were actually worthy of their title. Biblical kings like King David, Hezekiah, and Asa are among some of my favorite OT characters. In later times I love reading about Charlemagne, King Alfred, King Richard the Lionhearted, and Robert the Bruce.

King Alfred was a man ahead of his time. He lived on the island of Brittania after the fall of the Roman Empire had left most of the known world reeling. He was faced with many challenges as the king of the Saxon people; illiteracy, spiritual darkness, disunity, and the dreadful invasions of the fierce-some Danes.

But Alfred was up to the challenge. He was an eager learner, a loving husband and father, a gracious king, compassionate foe, and a steadfast follower of King Jesus. And much of this he accomplished before the age of 30.

Alfred was a beacon of light in a time of great fear and darkness. He established schools and churches to encourage learning. He repelled the invading Danes and eventually signed a peace treaty after the conversion of the Danish leader.

He stood up for what was right, he protected the innocent, and reached out to the uneducated and poor. He was an excellent example to all of his people. Even hundreds of years later the English people revere Alfred greatly.

Alfred was a normal human being who was placed by God in a position of power and influence. And unlike so many others who used that power merely for their own gain, Alfred allowed God to work through him and use him to form and lead a nation. What an incredible legacy this man left, thank God for King Alfred!