Mom read nursery rhymes to me and my sister well into our school age years, cultivating our appreciation for poetry in general. Many of those old rhymes, laced with vague images of a fanciful "merry old England," have remained in my memory as cherished comforters. Now and then, one will come to mind, transporting me back to that tweed sofa where I'd snuggle against my mother as she read:
Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
Eating his Christmas pie.
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"
In thinking about Little Jack Horner today, I decided to Google it. All the articles I found agreed on the poem's origin, which http://www.powerfulwords.info/ summarized succinctly:
Little Jack Horner was in fact reputed to be the Steward to the Bishop of Glastonbury. He was sent to King Henry VIII with a Christmas gift of twelve title deeds to manorial estates. Whilst on his way to the King Jack stole the deed to the manor of Mells (this being the real 'plum' of the twelve manors) which was in France. The remaining eleven manors were given to the crown but the manor of Mells became the property of the Horner family! The first publication date for the lyrics to this nursery rhyme is 1725.
Without ignoring the well-documented history behind the nursery rhyme, I'd like to make a spiritual application. As a race (and as individuals) we humans feast in corners, away from the Lord's table. When we find something good, we suppose it to be a result of our own cleverness. We ignore our dependence on Him as our only source of goodness under the presumption that we can produce wonderful things by our own efforts.
What's worse, we professing Christians especially like to credit ourselves for "accepting Jesus" and "coming to Christ," as if we played the determining role in our salvation. Occasionally, we might make a comment about owing it all to Him, but in reality we pat ourselves on the backs for having the sense to turn to Him.
Little Jack Horner obtained his plum (the deed to the manor of Mells) dishonestly, demonstrating that, indeed, he was anything but good! By contrast, Jesus gives us His righteousness, knowing that we have no means of commending ourselves to Him. May we, in loving response, praise Him rather than boasting of ourselves.