Revisiting MELEK: and the Coronation of KING Charles III

King: melek, masculine noun (Strong’s 4428) and Kingdom: malkut, feminine noun (Strong’s 4438).

As a Canadian, and a descendant of United Empire Loyalists, I was raised to have a great respect for the Royal Family of the Commonwealth. I grew up admiring my Queen, Elizabeth II, her loyal husband Philip, her daughter Anne, and her sons, Charles, Andrew and Edward. I also was fascinated with Sarah Ferguson, most notably because we shared a name. In my early 20’s I moved to England to continue my studies in medieval history. I was living there when Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997 and I attended her memorial service, the day after her funeral, at York Minster on 7 September 1997.

In 2014 my eldest daughter and I had the great pleasure of meeting King Charles, then Prince of Wales, and Queen Camilla, then Duchess of Cornwall. My daughter shook Charles’ hand, I shook Camilla’s. 

As a Commonwealth subject, King Charles is my king, but as a daughter of the Creator, my One and True King is YHWH.

In the Hebrew Bible the descendants of Abraham and Sarah did not have an earthly king, like the other nations. God was their only King. But there came a time when they turned away from God and wanted to be more like their neighbouring nations. They wanted a king on earth to rule over them (see 1 Samuel 8:1-22a). And although God was disappointed, He gave them what they wanted. 

King as YHWH’s Image Bearer

But God warned His people: if they was going to have a king, then that king ought to nothing like the kings of the nations who love power, war and wealth. A king of the Hebrew people should be a humble image-bearer of God. One who would stand up as a fine example love and kindness for his people to follow.

In the Genesis account, God commissioned humans to bear His Image. All humans, male and female, were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). They were to be His image bearers to the world around them. Essentially they were on His payroll and as His employees they were commissioned to show His love, justice, humility and mercy to all others on the planet. A king would be their commander-in-chief… the ultimate example of what the company stood for, and equally responsible for leading others in the path of God’s righteousness.

That’s a HUGE responsibility to take on! The first anointed king of the Hebrew people couldn’t cut it. Saul failed in his responsibility to be a chief image bearer. He disobeyed God; he tried to take matters into his own hands; he started to believe in his own power and put God second. He raised himself up, at the expense of others; and greed took over. 

For kings anointed by God, there was no room for self-indulgence, ego, greed, and pride. The power and wealth that comes with kingship was to be tempered with a great sense of humility and generosity. Those raised up in such privileged surroundings were meant to humble themselves and recognize that no matter the hardships they were facing, there were so many out there suffering under equal or greater weight and affliction. 

Now not all those born into the royal family have understood this lesson. That is why today the king’s youngest son is no longer part of the “working royalty”… because he has missed the point. Royal life isn’t about ego and what you think you’re owed, it’s about servitude. And that’s what the working royals represent.  

If the Coronation service is to teach us anything, it is that kingship is meant to serve people and not be served by them. A king is to be a reflection of YHWH and Yeshua (Jesus) in kindness, mercy, justice and love. He is to be an image bearer of the true King of the Universe, and that means being self-sacrificing, helping others, using the power given to them to raise others up out of their suffering at the expense of their own comfort.

And yesterday’s Coronation Service exemplified that principle. It started with a young boy named Samuel Strachan saying these words to Charles:

“Your Majesty, as children of the Kingdom of God we welcome you in the name of the King of kings” 

And Charles replied to the child:

“In His name and in His example I come not to be served but to serve.”

Charles would be a servant king with Yeshua as his primary example!

The British monarchy, wealthy though they may be, have key roles to play as ambassadors of charity and community service. Here are some of the charities that the King and his family represent:

    • Caring for children and young people (examples: The Prince’s Trust, The Youth United Foundation, Ty Hafan, The Hospice for Children in Wales)
    • Caring for the elderly (examples: The Almshouse Association, PRIME Cymru, The Charterhouse)
    • Fighting poverty (examples: ActionAid, The National Benevolent Society)
    • Feeding the hungry (example: The Sustainable Food Trust)
    • Caring for widows (example: War Widows Association of Great Britain)
    • Caring for refugees (example: The AMAR International Charitable Association)
    • Veteran assistance (examples:The Normandy Memorial Trust, Troop Aid)
    • Helping the sick (examples: Marie Curie Cancer Care, Cystic Fibrosis Trust)
    • Disaster relief (examples: Canadian Red Cross Society, The Samaritans)
    • Fighting against homelessness and the housing crisis (examples: Haig Housing Trust, Emmaus UK, Caring for Life)
    • Advocating for mental health help (examples: Combat Stress, The Mental Health Foundation)
    • Championing the disabled (Wheelpower-British Wheelchair Sports Foundation, Royal National College for the Blind)
    • Ambassadors for the environment (examples: Caring for God’s Acre, Earth Rangers, Surfers Against Sewage)
    • Caring for animals: (examples: Zoological Society of London, Marine Conservation Society)
    • Promoting literacy: (examples: Book Aid International, BookTrust)
    • Championing clean water: (examples: Charity Water, WaterAid)
    • Advocating for victim relief: (Holocaust Memorial Day Trust)
    • Sharing the faith: (The Bible Society, Prayer Book Society)

What does it mean to be a “working royal”? Hours upon hours of charity work, encouraging others, and building community.

King Charles III kissing the Bible

The Most Valuable Item in the World

After the king made his declaration, “I come not to be served but to serve”, a shout-out was given to the Messiah:

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

A Bible was then presented to the king upon which he would make his oaths, and the Right Reverend Dr. Ian Greenshields said this to the King:

“Receive this book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.”

I, as you may guess, was particularly moved by this gesture. In a ceremony glittering with jewelled regalia, the real treasure was a book, filled with the words of God and the story of humanity.

And this wasn’t a glib nod to the Scriptures, the Bible was quoted throughout the ceremony, including Colossians 1:9-17, Numbers 6:24-26, and the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4).

The primary passage was the moment Yeshua quoted the prophet Isaiah (chapter 61) in the book of Luke, where He stood in front of His community and said:

Luke 4:18-19

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He anointed Me to bring Good News to the Poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to see free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favourable year of the LORD.” 

Again this set the tone for the Coronation theme: we are to reflect Yeshua (Jesus), sharing the Good News and freeing those under oppression. King Charles was crowned to do just that… reflect God’s glory to everyone around him, by giving himself to his people and sharing love, kindness and mercy to everyone he serves.

But these readings weren’t the only Bible references. Many of the Psalms (and one passage from the 1st book of Kings) were put into song: Psalm 20:9, Psalm 21:1, 3,  Psalm 47:1-2, 6-7a, Psalm 72:1-2, 4-5, 7, Psalm 98, Psalm 103, Psalm 122:1-3, 6-7, and 1 Kings 2:1-3.

As a medievalist I was particularly pleased to see the 6th Century Gospels of St. Augustine which was opened at the title page of the book of Luke, as well as a quote (on the anointing screen) by the 14th century anchoress Julian of Norwich who truly believed that, even in the midst of adversity, with a simple faith in God, “All things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.

Anointing Oil

At the height of the ceremony Charles was anointed with holy oil. The oil was made in Israel. Olives were gathered from the Mount of Olives and pressed just outside of Bethlehem. The sacred oil was infused with rose, sesame, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, amber, benzoin and orange blossom, and it was consecrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem, before making its way to Great Britain for the coronation. Charles has a family connection to Jerusalem as his grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, is buried at the Monastery of Mary Magdalen on the Mount of Olives.

The anointing with oil was the most sacred part of the ceremony, and King Charles received the oil on his hands, his chest, and his head, behind a privacy screen. During that time, George Frideric Handel’s Zadok the Priest was gloriously sung by an enthusiastic choir. This famous composition had originally been commissioned for the Coronation of King George II in 1727.

Zadok the Priest, of course, was the Biblical priest who crowned King Solomon:

1 Kings 1:32-40

Then King David [ha-melek David הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ דָּוִ֗ד] said, “Summon to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.”  And they came into the presence of the king [ha-melek  הַמֶּֽלֶךְ].

And the king [ha-melek הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ] said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. And have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there as king [l-melek לְמֶ֖לֶךְ] over Israel, and blow the trumpet and say, ‘Long live King Solomon [ha-melek Sh’lomoh הַמֶּ֥לֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹֽה]!’ Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, and he shall be king [yi-m’lohk יִמְלֹ֖ךְ] in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.” 

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king [et ha-melek אֶת־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ] and said, “Amen! May YHWH, the God of my lord the king [YHWH Elohey adonai ha-melek הַמֶּֽלֶךְ], say the same. Just as YHWH has been with my lord the king [adonai ha-melek הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ], so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David [adonai ha-melek David הַמֶּ֥לֶךְ דָּוִֽד]!

So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on the mule of king David [ha-melek David הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ דָּוִ֑ד], and brought him to Gihon. And Zadok the priest then took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon [y’khi ha-melek Sh’lomoh הַמֶּ֥לֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹֽה]!” And all the people went up after him, and the people were playing on flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their noise.

Servitude: Love in Action

After the anointing, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, gave his sermon based on Luke 4 (Yeshua’s reading of the prophet Isaiah). Here is a portion of his sermon:

We are here to crown a King, and we crown a King to serve

Service is love in action. We see active love in the care for our most vulnerable, the way we nurture and encourage the young, in the conservation of the natural world. We have seen those priorities in the life of duty lived by our King.

…With the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the King is given freely what no ruler can ever attain through will, or politics, or war, or tyranny: the Holy Spirit draws us to love in action

This is promised by Jesus who put aside all privilege, because, as the first reading (Colossians 1:9-17) tells us, God will give all things for our sake, even His own life. 

His throne was a Cross, His crown was made of thorns, His regalia were the wounds that pierced His body.

Each of us is called by God to serve. Whatever that looks like in our own lives, each of us can choose God’s way today.

And so the King of Great Britain and the Commonwealth was crowned as a servant King and we are to follow his lead, giving ourselves in service to others. In fact, in Britain, Charles commissioned a National Day of Volunteering called the Big Help Out, on Monday May 8th, to start a movement of servitude which is to be exemplified in his reign.

No matter how you feel about the British royal family, we can at least all agree that Yeshua is the perfect Servant King that we ought to emulate. In a big way or a small way it’s time to help out and show love, compassion, and kindness to everyone around us because that’s what being a child of the King of Heaven looks like. 

To read the original posting on the Hebrew word for KING, click below:


Next week: conception

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