I love the tragedy, King Lear. In what I think is Shakespeare’s greatest play, the king divides his kingdom in thirds and decides to give the daughter that loves him most the best portion. When he makes his purpose known, the older two begin flattering him shamelessly. His oldest says,
Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter; Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty; Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare; No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour
... etc ... you get the picture.
His second daughter says:
Sir, I am made of the self-same metal that my sister is, and prize me at her worth. In my true heart I find she names my very deed of love; Only she comes too short ...
And so on ... she tries to out do her sister.
When the king asks his youngest daughter what she has to say, she says ... and I quote:
The king is aghast and asks her to explain. She says:
Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty According to my bond; nor more nor less ... You have begot me, bred me, loved me. I Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
She adds that she hopes not to marry husbands like her sisters’ if they have been unable to deserve any love from their wives, since it is all still vested in their father.
The story begins with Lear giving all his kingdom to his two flattering daughters, and it all comes to ruin. While at the same time, his youngest is truly loyal, but can do nothing to rescue her father’s life’s work or the health and sanity that slips away from him.
Cordelia, Lear’s youngest daughter, loved him more truly for not expanding his virtue beyond truth. She tried to see him as he was and love him as a daughter should in spite of his faults.
We are called upon in God’s word to honor our parents. But we must see their virtue and avoid their vice. Otherwise, like Isaac, we will be subject to repeat their mistakes.
Flattery and blindness is not love, but deception. Love is not love that does not see the truth about a person and embrace them in spite of their flaws.
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