, , ,

Now we come to the primary purpose of discourse: What does it mean to use the Word of God as a “mirror”:

It is required that when thou readest God’s Word in order to see thyself in the mirror, thou must remember (so as really to get to the point of seeing thyself in the mirror), thou must remember to say to thyself continually, “It is I am that am here addressed, it is about me this is said.”

He calls this the “seriousness” of reading.  To explain this proposition, Kierkegaard uses an analogy and an example from the Bible. First, to explain what it means to be addressed by the Word.

King David had sinned grievously. He thought he successfully covered up his adultery and Uriah’s death. Then the prophet Nathan came to David and told a story. A rich man with a large flock had a friend come to dinner. The rich man was neighbor to a poor man whose family had only a single lamb which they had raised as a pet.  To feed his guest, the rich stole the poor man’s lamb and served it to the friend. David shocked and angry pronounced death upon the rich man. Nathan said, to David, “Thou art the man.”

Kierkegaard explains what has happened here:

Behold, this tale which the prophet recited was a story, but this, “Thou art the man,” was another story– it was a transition to the subjective.

He then gives an example how we could read the Word as Mirror. He uses the parable of the Good Samaritan.  The story entails a serious of people who should know better and who pass a wounded man on the side of the road. Only the despised Samaritan stops and cares for the wounded man. When we read this, we can easily hold a smug attitude and this and think, I am glad I am not like this priest in the story. But:

No, when thou readest God’s Word, it must be in all seriousness, and thou shalt say, “This priest is me. Alas, that I could be so uncompassionate — I who call myself a Christ — and in a way I am also a priest …

And so the Word is a mirror. We must be careful to not look at the mirror — which creates distance from the Word’s work, but look into the mirror and see ourselves reflected and exposed there. The Word of God works best and right when it exegetes the reader: it exposes the reader’s heart for examination.

[Next will be not forgetting what he have seen; and an examination of the psychology of resolutions.]