THE GREAT CHRISTIAN PLAYWRIGHT WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND THE HEBREW LETTER "VAV"The great Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, was known for the greatest plays ever written in history. What is interesting about the timeless masterpieces he wrote is that all his major work were inspired by the Bible! It is a very little known fact. Over 30 years, as Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar etc, we can grasp the biblical imagery of the timeless words and quotes which are still used today, even in regular conversation! Many of us can quote "Romeo, oh Romeo....." or "Friends, Romans, countrymen"....or "to Be or not to Be, that is the question". There are hundreds of those in books, on websites and more all over the world.
But the one that intrigues the most is this quote, written by Shakepeare's hand in his last will and testament: "In the name of God, Amen. I, William Shakespeare..., in perfect health and memory, God be praised, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following. That is to say, first, I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting, and my body to the earth whereof it is made." (Charles Knight, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps Martin, Johnson, (1851). The Complete Works of Shakespeare, from the Original Text: Life of Shakespeare. p. LIII and Robert Nye (2013), The Late Mr. Shakespeare. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., Ch. 96).
This most definitely appears to be testimonial of a man who is assured of eternal life in heaven, through Christ the King. Raised in the church of England, the official state religion under Queen Elizabeth 1, Shakespeare eventually graduated to being a student of the Geneva Bible, the great Bible of the Protestant Reformation. He was also grounded in his church's Book of Common Prayer, a wonderful inspiring collection of worship prayers to our God.
Shakespeare lived in a time where going to church was mandatory and while he was a bit of a rebel, his spiritual life shines through all his plays, none more so than "As You Like It" with its numerous Gospel references and themes between the lines. Just this one quote from As You Like it by "Orlando" comes out of three Bible passages! Shakespeare says ""He that doth the ravens feed, / Yea, providently caters for the sparrow, / Be comfort to my age." The three passages are Job 38:41; Psalm 147:9; Matthew 10:29)
My favorite Shakespeare quote is from one of the plays we had to memorize in high school over forty years ago (from Julius Caesar). In it, Shakespeare writes "There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures".
There are so many Bible passages which can back fill this quote, but my favorite can be found in our continuing Psalm 119 study. Psalm 119:41-48, our next portion of this amazing psalm is under the 6th letter of the Hebrew Alphabet "VAV". The word "Vav" has meaning which cannot be fully grasped by mere mortals. It first appears as "and" (as in "heavens AND the earth") in Genesis 1:1 where this word, is written as only ONE letter, in the original paleo Hebrew. Basically, here we see the link or hook between Him and man. Vav means hook as in the hook, which God told Moses to use as pegs or hooks for the desert Tabernacle. He says so also in Exodus 27:9-10: “You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twined linen a hundred cubits long for one side. Its twenty pillars and their twenty bases shall be of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver."
The verses which fall under this title - Vav or the 6th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, testify to that great connection or divine "hook" which we all have. This sixth element is the connection which glorifies the God of our salvation in Verse 41, to where He then gives us courage and boldness to stand on His Word, and then share. As Shakespeare says in the above quote, speaking of the opportunity to do something or have it "taken at the flood", we can produce much fruit (verse 42).
If we seize the opportunity and never neglect to take every chance we get to love God, to seek and pursue Him, we then get to know Him better, through the Power of His Word (verses 43-44). This way, we can not only walk in complete freedom but our hearts will be flooded with an abundance of joy and peace. As we go out into the deep seas of life successfully thriving and impacting lives, we will never be ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation (verses 45-47) and will therefore, sing His praises forever (verse 48). Is there another way to live? No. Then, in light of this, let us proceed to get out of the shallow water and swim into the deep waters, where great opportunity and spiritual prosperity reside. This is the divine connection, hook if you will, which the Lord offers us in His Word. Amen
41 May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord, Your salvation according to Your word;
42 So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word.
43 And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I wait for Your ordinances.
44 So I will keep Your law continually, forever and ever.
45 And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.
46 I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed.
47 I shall delight in Your commandments, which I love.
48 And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on Your statutes.