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King & Subject: Nurturing Kingship

Now the Spirit of God had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from God tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from the Lord is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.” (I Samuel 16:14-15)


Saul’s servants don’t simply suggest that the king find someone to play music to soothe his moods; they insist that he ‘command’ them to find someone to play the lyre. They do not suggest the solution for his melancholy, i.e. the music, they suggest that he act as a king and order them to find someone. They understand that Saul’s solution will begin with his acting as a king issuing commands. They suspect that if they find the perfect person to play music, it won’t work, because Saul will not be at his highest self when the solution is offered. Saul must act as a king so that the solution will work.

The king must act as a king. The servants understood that the way they related to the king would play an important role in his finding relief. The king must act a a king, and the servants must relate to him as a king.

We do not and cannot compare the coronation of God as King on Rosh Hashanah to a human king, but we can derive the important role of the King’s attendants when we approach God as King: Everything that the attendant does for the King must be done differently because it is for the King. The way we speak, eat and dress on Rosh Hashanah must be different because it is being done for the King. We do not approach God as King only during our prayers; we live as attendants of the King throughout the day of Rosh Hashanah.

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