Frederick the Wise, Christian Ruler

Today’s commemoration is of Frederick the Wise, so our devotional reading comes from the biography Frederick the Wise: Seen and Unseen Lives of Martin Luther’s Protector.


In the eyes of the world, Frederick the Wise may not be seen as a very successful ruler. However, his steadfast defense of the Gospel during the time of the Reformation sets him apart in the eyes of the Church. In honor and remembrance of that, we commemorate him on this day.

Devotional Reading

Frederick [is best understood] as a Christian prince, who was also a multi-leveled, pragmatic sovereign with singular honesty and conviction. . . . A prince of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, even though secular in name, did not rule only in that sphere but was also tradition-bound to concern himself with the spiritual realm of his subjects. The duties of a Christian prince had long overlapped the duties of clerics. . . .

Two great inhibitions denied Frederick an aggressive territorial expansion: he did not like to use force, and from day one he spent all his money and energies trying to make a respectable electorate out of the shambles he inherited from the Leipzig Division. He kept pace with improvements in governance of other territories, but he was not himself an innovator. As an imperial prince, he had enormous influence. By 1500, he opposed strengthening the emperor. Frederick was definitely no champion of enlightened imperial reform like Berthold of Mainz. It is as a Christian prince that Frederick stands above all others of his time. From a sense of justice and Christian duty, he risked his electorate to protect the truth he thought Martin Luther revealed in the Holy Scriptures.


O merciful Father in heaven, from You comes all rule and authority over the nations of the world for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do well. Graciously regard Your servants, those who make, administer, and judge the laws of this nation, and look in mercy upon all the rulers of the earth. Grant that all who receive the sword as Your servants may bear it according to Your command. Enlighten and defend them, and grant them wisdom and understanding that under their peaceable governance Your people may be guarded and directed in righteousness, quietness, and unity. Protect and prolong their lives that we with them may show forth the praise of Your name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Read Treasury of Daily PrayerDevotional reading is from Frederick the Wise: Seen and Unseen Lives of Martin Luther’s Protector, pages 236–38 © 2011 Sam Wellman. Published 2015 by Concordia Publishing House.

Prayer is from Lutheran Service Book: Altar Book, page 454 © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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