The Emptiness of Flattery
King Canute ruled over Denmark, Norway, and England more than one thousand years ago. A wise ruler, he worked diligently to make the lives of his subjects better. As is often the case, he was surrounded by those who sought to gain influence and prominence with him, and according to the ancient story, he grew tired of their continual flattery and determined to put an end to it. He ordered that his throne be carried out to the seashore and gathered his courtiers about it.
By the sea, the king commanded the tide not to come in. Yet soon the waters were lapping around his legs as the tide did not heed him. According to one historian’s account, King Canute rose up from his throne and said, “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom Heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”