I studied Hamlet for English A level nearly seventy years ago. However much I loved the language of Shakespeare I was far too young then to understand the and passion with which he wrote.
I have just found this nugget in Claudius’ speech after he had killed the King:
‘There the action lies in his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,
even to the teeth and forehead of our faults, to give in evidence.
What then? What rests? Try what repentance can. What can it not?
Yet what can it when one can not repent? O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
O limed soul that, struggling to be free, are more engaged! Help, angels. Make essay.
Bow, stubborn knees, and, heart with strings of steel, be soft as sinews of the newborn babe.
All may be well.
I have underlined repentance because surely that is the heart of the matter, and puts me in mind of David in the Bible. God will forgive anything if (having confessed and repented) we approach Him in total humility. This is the outpouring of God’s abundant love for us.
I read this recently, which I think encapsulates the matter perfectly:
‘In an age that could be characterised by its astonishing lack of humility, prayer offers a rare chance to put our inflated selves aside, and in the suddenly unburdened state that follows, rediscover the things that really matter. Which is perhaps why, living in the age that we do, we are also just beginning to rediscover the need for prayer.
So let us BOW (our) STUBBORN KNEES