Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: LUST (all-consuming desire; excessive craving) (01/08/15)
TITLE: The Whole Duty Of Man
By Zacharia Fox
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“Father. Shall I fetch you bread and wine? You there! Bring refreshments. The King is famished,” Rehoboam demanded.
Solomon gave his son a cursory glance, withdrawing his quill from the the ink. “Don’t dote over me, Rehoboam. My hands tremble with purpose, not fatigue.”
Rehoboam chuckled. “Regardless, you’re far too sober.” He waved at someone in his peripherals. “Libations, now! And summon the concubines.”
Solomon paused. “Libations? In who’s honor?”
“Yours, mine, God’s. Does it matter as long as we drink?” Rehoboam appraised a young servant girl with naked desire.
“Rehoboam. It’s not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink,” Solomon said flat and firm.
Rehoboam glanced at Solomon, face drawn tight in frustration. “Father?”
“Let the concubines be,” Solomon bellowed, setting his quill back to the scroll. “Leave an old man to his musings, Rehoboam.”
“Of course father. My wine…” Rehoboam emptied his chalice, staring at the servant girl, before continuing, “and perhaps a woman, will keep me company.” He walked away casually, seeming bored with conversation.
‘All is vanity,’ Solomon penned with misting eyes. “Vanity,” he whispered, remembering Pharaoh’s daughter as she’d been when he first beheld her, tan skin glistening under twilight, intoxicating him with some weighty floral aroma. Even now, something in his heart yearned at the memory of her, though he wished it wasn’t so.
A tear fell from his eye, getting lost in the wrinkles on his wizened cheek, as he continued writing.
“My King,” his cupbearer leaned close. “Your wife requests your presence.”
Solomon brushed away the tear. Once upon a time he’d have had the cupbearer’s head for his vague information. But not anymore. “I’ve seven-hundred wives, Lemuel. How am I to know of which you speak?”
Lemuel nodded subtly. “Forgive me, my King. It is as you say, you have so many.”
Solomon knew, he could soothe his sinful longing with any one, or any group of wives. Part of him wanted to, but lingering in him, some malnourished virtue resisted. He wouldn’t succumb to lust, not tonight. “Deliver me, Lord,” he plead.
“Lemuel, I wish to be alone.” Lemuel bowed, and withdrew from the room, leaving Solomon alone.
“I am bent,” Solomon cried. “But I may yet remember my Creator.” He lowered his face into his hands, as a bitter wail escaped his mouth.
How had he, Solomon, fallen so far? God had inhabited the temple he built, spoken to him in visions, and gifted him with wisdom beyond measure. And yet there he sat, crying.
Years ago, God had spoken to his heart, “Do not give your strength to women.” But Solomon hadn’t listened. The problem with lust is, it always wants more. Always more women, until women weren’t enough. Then he built his kingdom with gold until silver lost all value. And still lust, in perpetual hunger, demanded more. So he sought fame and power until the whole world knew the greatness of Solomon the Wise.
Now, he wanted only to be known by the God of his fathers. Not seven days ago Solomon looked over his kingdom, realizing that he had not the God of his youth. He’d left his first love, and his heart broke into a thousand pieces, each called misery, bending that once strong man into a hunched heap of tears upon his own throne.
“My King,” Solomon stammered as he fell to his knees at the foot of his throne, sending his crown clanging to the floor. “Oh, my King! I am wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked!” he cried, voice cracking as he spoke, fingers tearing his robe.
“O Lord, rebuke me not in anger. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. Unless you build the temple, then I labor in vain! Build my King. Build what I can’t.” The weight of his guilt was unbearable, but just as he could take no more, his heart lifted, and he was convinced that nothing, not even his sins could separate him from the love of God.
“Thank you, my King, the one true King!” Solomon praised. “You deliver even one such as me.”
He clutched his quill, again setting it to the scroll.
‘The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.’
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