The Presence of the King

Final chapel talk by Dr. V. Raymond Edman, Wheaton College Chancellor
September 22, 1967

Edman Speaking "This will be the first time in more than ten months that I have attempted to speak in public. But I want you to consider with me an invitation to visit a King.

A number of years ago I was invited by His Majesty Haile Selassie the First, of Ethiopia, to visit his ancient empire and inspect the schools which were beginning to be reorganized after the long occupation during the war, and then report to him in person. In company with Dr. E. Joseph Evans, one of the trustees of the college, I went to Ethiopia and made that inspection. Then came the word from the palace that as of a given day and hour we were to present our report to His Majesty. You can be very sure that we were punctual and that we arrived in plenty of time.

When our names were called, we went to the drawing room in the palace in which the Emperor himself was seated at the far end of the room. According to court protocol, as I came to the entrance I stopped and bowed to ask, silently, permission to enter. His majesty nodded to indicate his permission.

I proceeded to the middle of the room — it was quite a large room — and then stopped and again bowed to indicate, “May I come further?” This again is court protocol, because if the Emperor has observed something distasteful to him, at that point he can indicate a negative, and one has to retire. He nodded and then he went beyond customary court protocol, because usually he would remain seated and nod his approval; but in this case he arose, took a few steps, extended his hand, and pointed me to a seat at his right.

Dr. Evans came next, and he was seated to the left. The interview was held in Amharic and English. The prime minister sat between Dr. Evans and myself, and he interpreted for us into English and then back into Amharic for the Emperor.

I shall never forget the reaction of His Majesty to my explanation of our educational philosophy at Wheaton. He expressed his knowledge about the college and interest in it, and made inquiry about it. When I explained that our education is based upon the Word of the Living God, and when he had heard the interpretation, he smiled and extended both hands, and he said to us in Amharic, “I wish the education of my people likewise to be based squarely upon the Word of God.”

But I speak primarily of another King. This chapel is the house of the King. Chapel is designed to be a meeting on your part with the King of kings and the Lord of lords Himself. To that end, chapel is designed for the purpose of worship. Over these years, going back to Jonathan Blanchard, Charles Blanchard, J. Oliver Buswell, myself, and now to President Armerding, there has been this same basic objective — that chapel is to be a time of worship, not a lecture, not an entertainment, but a time of meeting the King. Coming in, sit down and wait in silence before the Lord. In so doing, you will prepare your own hearts to hear the Lord, to meet with the King. Your heart will learn to cultivate what the Scripture says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Over these years I have learned the immense value of that deep, inner silence as David, the king, sat in God’s presence to hear from him."

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