“Cantilena, I have news!” Silas joyously embraced his wife. “Today, King David announced that his son, Solomon, will build the temple!”
“Solomon? You are wrong, Silas, everyone knows David has made plans to build it.”
“As one of the officials of Israel, I was summoned by David to assemble in Jerusalem,” Silas asserted. “That’s when David revealed God would not allow him to build the temple because he is a warrior and has shed blood.”
“Why did David choose Solomon?”
“David did not choose Solomon . . . God did,” Silas corrected her. “Remember, Israel belongs to God, not David. Every willing man skilled in any craft will help with the work. It’s a monumental task, but David told Solomon to ‘be strong and courageous,’* for God is with him and will not fail or forsake him.”*
Silas departed for the temple site, and Cantilena was left alone with her thoughts. In addition to his official duties, Silas, as a gifted goldsmith, would work alongside other craftsmen in building the temple. Oh, how Cantilena longed for a talent, some means to make a contribution. Other people were gifted with the ability to create beautiful handcraft, but not Cantilena. She felt useless.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
“Philomena!” Cantilena hugged her daughter tightly. “What a nice surprise! It’s been nearly a fortnight since we last saw you!”
Philomena shook her head sadly. “Mother . . . I’m afraid this will not be a pleasant visit.” She sighed. “Once again, we are in need.”
“You’ve been in need ever since you married Caspian,” Cantilena retorted. “Silas sees Caspian loafing at the city gates every day, wasting time with his lazy friends.”
“I love him, Mother!” Philomena sobbed. “I told Caspian to find work . . . “
Her mother spoke sternly. “Honorable men provide for their household without being told!”
“Please . . . let’s not argue . . . I came simply to ask for a little oil and barley, but I shan’t ask for it now!”
Cantilena gripped her daughter’s hands. “You’ve lost weight . . . I fear you are dwindling away.”
Philomena withdrew from Cantilena’s grasp and stood. “I’m sorry to have troubled you, Mother. I must go now . . . Caspian will soon be home.”
Aching with sorrow, Cantilena watched Philomena’s retreating form and, once again, felt useless. She and Silas had implored their daughter not to marry the ne’er-do-well Caspian, but Philomena had paid no heed. Now she was forced to scrounge for bare necessities.
Cantilena pondered this, and then made a decision.
At the city gates, she searched for her son-in-law and found him sharing wine with several drunken friends.
Although the men unnerved her, she reminded herself to ‘be strong and courageous,’* and shouted, “Caspian! I must speak with you!”
His friends laughed and mimicked her.
Caspian glared at Cantilena. “What do you want, old woman?!”
Ignoring the disrespect, she responded, “Solomon is building the temple . . . they need craftsmen. You were once a stone mason . . . you should go and seek work.”
He laughed. “I hate work . . . I have better things to do with my time.”
“You have a wife . . . you must provide for her.”
“I do as I wish,” he said sarcastically. “I am a grown man.”
“Yes, but you act like a little boy,” she retorted and walked away.
Cantilena decided not to report this conversation to Silas. It would only trouble him.
That evening, Silas and Cantilena were awakened by an urgent knock. Silas threw open the door. Caspian stood in the darkness, bearing Philomena in his arms.
“Please help us,” Caspian cried. “Philomena has fainted. I have no money for the doctor!”
Silas immediately disappeared into the night in search of medical help.
Sunrise broke the eastern skies, shining upon the bed in which Philomena lay resting. Hovering nearby, Cantilena fed her every few hours, and dispatched Silas to the marketplace for more supplies. As for Caspian, he had disappeared without a word, which was just as well, in Cantilena’s opinion.
Upon Silas’ return, he spoke incredulously, “I passed by the temple site . . . you’ll never believe who I saw working!”
“You must whisper, Silas, Philomena is sleeping . . . who did you see working?”
“Caspian . . . imagine that!”
Cantilena smiled knowingly, “Imagine that!”
*Story based upon I Chronicles 28 (NIV)
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