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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: I KILLED MY COUSIN!!
By Scott Sheets
05/24/08


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The servant rushed into the palace panting from exhaustion and exclaimed, “I have found him, your Majesty!”

“Where is he?” Solomon urged.

“He was found kneeling in the sacred tent, your Majesty,” the servant gasped for air then continued, “clinging to the horns of the altar.”

“Benaiah!” beckoned Solomon as Benaiah immediately hastened to kneel before his sovereign. “You have heard where Joab has fled. My father instructed me to make sure his gray head didn’t go to the grave in peace. So now go and strike him down! He must pay for the innocent blood he has shed in the land of Israel.”

“Yes, your majesty.” Benaiah bowed and then hastily exited to carry out the king’s solemn command.

Solomon had issued the royal decree. Joab, his cousin, would die. His countenance diminished as he contemplated the decision. So many in his family had already perished over the tumultuous years of intrafamily strife. Now he had authorized one more death.

The sound of footsteps entering the king’s chamber roused Solomon’s attention. Nathan the prophet appeared. Though Nathan’s voice quivered from age, it still carried the melody of wisdom. “May I speak with your majesty?”

“Yes, my dear friend,” Solomon promptly concurred. “I would greatly appreciate your conversation.” Solomon motioned to a servant who hurriedly brought in an ornate chair for the distinguished prophet.

“The decisions of a king are not easy, are they my Lord?”

“No, Nathan, they certainly are not. I so want to serve God like my father and not in petty vengeance as Saul before him.”

“And do you feel you are doing so?” probed Nathan.

“I believe I am. Yet, I question my motives for executing Joab. You know how he conspired with Adonijah against me. Am I truly cleansing the land with his execution or am I simply appeasing a craving for personal revenge?”

“Seek the LORD, Solomon. He will reveal your heart.”

At that moment, Benaiah burst through the chamber doors with an anxious look upon his face. Both Solomon and Nathan snapped into focus on him, anticipating his news.

“Your Majesty,” a troubled Benaiah reported, “Joab refuses to leave the sacred tent!”

Solomon shifted his eyes toward Nathan who responded with a subtle upward glance toward the heavens before descending again upon Solomon’s inquisitive gaze. Solomon immediately grasped Nathan’s suggestion and bowed his head in a silent prayer.

“Lord, you have placed me over Your people and I want to rule with righteousness rather than petty selfish preservation. Joab wronged my father and me but he also wronged You by shedding the blood of Abner and Amasa in peacetime. You demand that a murderer pay for his crime with his life. Thus, may Your will be done.”

“Sire, what would you have me do?” Benaiah queried.

Solomon lifted his head and with a sober but confident tone issued the command, “Strike him down in the tent if that’s where he wants to die.” Nathan quietly nodded in affirmation knowing the difficulty of Solomon’s decision, even though the Torah itself confirmed it.

***

Benaiah entered the sacred tent carrying the weight of a royal decree. Joab refused to turn and face Benaiah and instead held fast to the altar. The sweat beaded on Joab’s trembling flesh as the muscular tension throughout his body took its toll. Benaiah stealthily raised his sword above Joab’s humiliated form and bore down upon him with the righteous vindication of God in one conclusive stroke.

Joab–nephew of David, cousin of Solomon, slayer of innocent men, and traitor of the king, crumpled to the floor. The stain of innocent blood had finally been removed from David’s kingdom.

Benaiah, after removing the soulless shell of flesh from the sacred tent, returned to Solomon. “Your bidding has been carried out your majesty.”

“Very well, Benaiah. Make sure Joab receives a proper burial,” the honorable King of Israel replied.

Solomon bowed his head slightly to shield Benaiah’s view from the tears pooling in the corners of his eyes. The arduous ascension to Israel’s throne had sapped Solomon’s emotional reserves. David’s conflicted family had suffered so deeply from betrayal and bloodshed over the years and Solomon had seen enough. Perhaps now there could be peace. Perhaps now the land was cleansed. Perhaps now the people of Israel would experience the fullness of God’s blessing.

In the solemnity of that moment Solomon whispered a prayer, “LORD, grant me the wisdom to make it so. Amen.”


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This article has been read 866 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Norma-Anne Hough05/29/08
I enjoyed your story. Well done.Hope you do well. Blessings
Sara Harricharan 05/29/08
This is simply wonderful! The writing is excellent-you made the characters come alive, the emotion, the dialouge. Very strong! I loved this new POV and especially how it fit the topic. Very well done! This is a favorite of mine this week!
Leticia Caroccio05/29/08
Very nice article. The characters were portrayed realistically. You captured and conveyed great emotion. I was engrossed. Nicely done.
Beckie Stewart05/29/08
Wow. I like how you brought this Bible story alive.
Debbie Wistrom05/29/08
What a title!
I love the Bible stories retold from a different POV and youdid this one very well.
Keep writing, I feel you have much to share.
Marlene Austin05/29/08
Very nice job sharing the emotions of your characters. :)
Andrea Hargrove05/30/08
This isn't a story one hears much about in church. Good job digging it up and filling it with realism.
Patricia Turner06/02/08
You painted the scenes, the emotions, and the pain of this great Bible character so well it felt like I was right there! Thanks for a wonderful story!
Edmond Ng 06/03/08
I like the way you retold the story from a different POV. It certainly brings out the needed 'pull' in captivating the readers. I'm glad to be reading more Bible related stories at Challenge after so much of fiction. Keep up the good work.
Beth LaBuff 06/05/08
Congrats on winning with this and your EC. Awesome work!
Sharlyn Guthrie06/05/08
Congratulations on your EC. This is outstanding!
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/05/08
I love Biblical fiction stories. Good portrayal of this hard decision. Congrats!
Pamela Kliewer06/05/08
I really like your story. Well done. I could feel Solomon's pain at having to do what must be done... Congrats on your placement and the EC!
Lollie Hofer 06/05/08
Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition in this category and also the EC. Your writing skills are superior, adding to that is an imaginative mind. The combination makes for great writing.
Betsy Markman06/06/08
I liked Solomon's regret at what had to be done. There is so much violence and bloodshed in the OT, and sometimes it's easy to forget that even hardened men of war still have feelings. Thanks for this.
Lynn Jacky06/06/08
Hi - Interesting would have never thought to write a story from O.T. - great writing