Mehrdad blinked in confusion at his master and turned to leave the great city of Jerusalem with his peers. If any great king of the Jews were to be born, wouldn't he be in the City of David? Mehrdad sighed wearily as his master's head sank lower. Perhaps it had been a foolish ambition to see the new king, but his master and his friends had agreed to travel together to bring gifts and swear allegiance to this king.
Idly, he traced his dark hand across the hardened goatskin that formed the head of his drum. It had been a great adventure, serving his master on this eight-season expedition. But, it was time to go home...
A grizzled form pushed its way through the crowd, closer to Mehrdad's master. Was Herod that bold? Could Herod really assassinate foreign diplomats in his own market? Mehrdad began to shove forward, closer to his master and the stranger.
Parts of the hushed conversations floated through the chaotic bazaar. "...strange events occurred...two years...Bethlehem..."
His master nodded once and pressed a silver coin into the man's hand. With a hand motion, he summoned Mehrdad to his side and motioned for the young man to climb upon the camel. They were close to finding the king. There were no other answers outside of that. Wordlessly, Mehrdad obeyed and climbed behind his master, shifting the drum to ride behind him.
Master nodded to his companions and they began to leave the city once again. Nightfall slowly descended, but they pressed on. Until, finally, they were on a cliff overlooking a hamlet. Could this really be where the king of the Jews resided?
His master's eyes were on the sky and he breathed, "There."
The now familiar star seemed to hang low over a hut on the outskirts of town. The frantic pace slowed down, now that the humble house was in view. He climbed down before his master and aided the larger man down, before carefully arranging the robes, and finally swinging his drum around to his side.
Dark hands caressed the drum once, before playing the opening rhythm, announcing to those inside of the hut that foreigner diplomats had arrived to great this new king.
Then, the extraordinary happened. Instead of a servant opening the door, an ordinary man, covered in wood shavings answered the door, questions filling his dark eyes.
"We wish to see the new king and swear our allegiance to him," Mehrdad's master announced, taking a step forward as the young man motioned the group into the building.
A child sat on the floor at his mother's feet. It was clear that he had been happily playing with carved animals, until they walked in. His dark eyes seemed took the group in and Mehrdad followed his master's example and bowed low to the ground as the magi presented their gifts to the child's mother. The child turned his eyes to Mehrdad and self consciously, Mehrdad shifted. He had nothing to give this child as a gift.
The child crawled to Mehrdad. He curiously reached out and touched the drum that rested at Mehrdad’s side. Mehrdad tilted his head to the side and smiled softly at the child.
"My master," he began, dipping his head respectfully, "might I perform for the child?"
His master smiled gently, and nodded. "Yes, play for the child and his parents. Perform for them a song you used to sing to my children." Mehrdad frowned, none of the songs from his home country seemed appropriate for the child—but he had to obey his master.
The young mother smiled warmly as she stood and collected her son, allowing Mehrdad to maneuver the drum to a playable position. He closed his eyes and searched his memory for an appropriate song; one that wouldn't just entertain the child, but his parents would also appreciate.
Mehrdad nodded, licked his lips, and then began the rhythm that would carry through the entire song before singing, "From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger."
Mehrdad continued to sing, lifting his voice as the child bounced and sang happily in his mother's lap. As the song ended, Mehrdad bowed deeply to the small family before taking several steps back. His gift wasn't expensive, but listening to the child laugh and sing praises to YHWH made it worth it.
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