Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)
TITLE: A Great Answer
By Helen Murray
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“Solomon, a soft answer turns away wrath. You can say almost anything if you say it gently! Did I ever tell you that story about King Saul chasing me all over Judah trying to kill me because he knew I had been annointed for the crown of Israel after him, instead of his son Jonathon. He had it in his head that I wanted to kill him, kill Jonathon who was his heir, and take over the kingdom because I was the next annointed king.”
“Tell it again, Abba.”
“Nothing could convince him I was loyal. Nothing! He had three thousand trained soldiers to my six hundred odd-bods collected from anywhere. I knew those hills well, because most of my youth was spent there composing music between looking after sheep and killing foxes, lions, bears, whatever came along after them. We had to keep moving, moving all the time because of Saul’s spies. One day they got too close, so we went into the black recesses of one of the caves where there was no light, and just waited there until they passed on. I was praying to Yahweh that they would go on their way, and next thing, the great and mighty King Saul himself comes wandering right into the cave, all alone! Well, you could hear a pin drop! Everyone stopped breathing – just about! We could see him at the cave entrance, but he couldn’t see us, right at the back, because it takes a few minutes for your eyes to get used to the dark.
But I know my men, and I could feel their fighting spirit leap up at the chance to kill the enemy! After all, this was a gift! Not one of the three thousand in sight, and here is King Saul right among our six hundred angry, bloodthirsty creatures craving for vengeance. I tell you, I had the toughest job keeping them away from him.
He squatted right beside me, loosening up his bowels. Oh the stink! I nearly gave the game away gasping for breath! I had the funniest idea! My knife was so sharp. Every time he grunted I sliced into his beautiful, purple royal cloak! He didn’t suspect a thing. When he got up again I had a lovely piece of shiny purple cloth for a souvenir! Yee Hah!
He dusted himself down and wandered out into the sunshine, none the wiser. I followed him out, signing to the men to stay put. When he got half way down the hill I yelled out to him like the sergeant major.
‘My Lord. Your Majesty!’
He looked back at me and went white – and quite rightly too.
‘You were in my cave. Don’t you know I won’t touch the Lord’s annointed? I’m never going to hurt you, Your Majesty, my lord.’
And I really bowed low to him. And long. As I came up I brandished – not my sword - but a piece of recently acquired, exquisite, purple cloth.
‘Is this yours?’
He looked down and checked it out, and found the gap where it should have been.
‘Yahweh is your judge, not David. I’ll never hurt my king. May the Lord judge between you and me. I bless you, your Majesty.’
‘David, my son? I was in your cave? You didn’t hurt me?’
I tell you Solomon, he was stuttering!
‘You have shown great loyalty today. I wanted to kill you, but you honored me.’
His jaw was working a treat. He didn’t know what to say, and that is unusual for a king, believe me!
‘May the Lord reward you well for what you have done today.’
‘Thank you, your Majesty.’
I waited for him to go on.
‘I’m sure, now, that you will be king, …….. (a long wait here) one day.’
I can see him struggle with it right now, in my mind’s eye.
‘When that day comes, will you promise me not to kill my children, my grandchildren? I want my name to live on in Israel.’
Doesn’t any man?” David gazed at young Solomon.
“‘I promise.’ His son Jonathon was my beloved blood brother, Solomon. Of course I would promise him that.
Do you know, Solomon, that three thousand and six hundred soldiers were delighted that night. Three thousand went home to their wives. Six hundred had a noisy party with sweet, wild goat meat and nothing to worry about. You see, the soft answer, silken diplomacy, wins again!”
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