Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Pen and Paper (07/17/14)
TITLE: The King and I
By Gary Ritter
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I had heard rumors of his vast wisdom. Acclamation of his immense wealth. Whispers that he was more than just a man. Finally, I could remain in my place no longer. I determined to seek him out and find out for myself. Taking up stylus and papyrus I wrote to him, sealing the scroll with my royal insignia. A courier with armed guard left that very afternoon.
It’s an enormous distance from my land of Ethiopia to the country of this great king known as Israel; many months passed before the courier returned. He bowed low before me, dust and sweat from his journey mixing to color his dark skin a light gray. His news was good. The king would welcome me.
The riches of my country are not insignificant. It was important for me, as a supplicant, to come bearing many precious gifts. My caravan was loaded down with gold, glittering stones of enormous value, and the spices we treasure so much. Our camels earned their water and food on this trip, I assure you.
We traveled at a slower pace than my courier had; it was better than half a year until we arrived. The welcome we received in Jerusalem by King Solomon was more than I expected. That which I had heard about the man and all that he had built paled with the reality.
As the king showed me the palace and the temple of the Lord the burdens on my heart overwhelmed me. I was interested in the city with its marvelous structures, but my true concerns were those of the mind and heart.
I asked questions that had weighed on me for years, and the wisdom of the man proved the rumors but a sliver of the understanding he possessed. I queried how he had come to such knowledge, and he surprised me. He didn’t boast of himself, though he had a fertile mind. He didn’t extol the virtues of the writings of the wise men of his country, or even of the tutors who skillfully imparted their learning to him. No, he boasted in the Lord God of Israel.
As he spoke of this God, I knew that which had been on my conscience and all that I yearned for had come from Him. I realized that this God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the One true God, the Creator of all. With this insight I hungered for more, and King Solomon granted my every request that I might make this God mine.
The king’s first wife was a lovely Shulammite girl with a complexion burnt by the sun, unlike mine that is black by nature. She was gracious and kind, yet I saw a haunting hurt in her eyes as Solomon interacted with his numerous other wives and concubines. When he suggested to me an alliance through marriage, my heart said no. Benefits could have flowed to both our nations, and I thanked him profusely, but I couldn’t do it. He took it well when I told him of the dream I had that his intermarrying with the royalty of other nations would lead to disappointment in his life. In his accepting my denial he confided that his God had indeed spoken such a Word, but he couldn’t help himself in holding fast to the women he coveted. In a way I pitied him because I knew the God of Abraham would give him strength, if he desired it.
When I left I did so with regret. It wasn’t for the man Solomon, but for what his God had given him. I yearned to truly know this King above. King Solomon returned the favor of our many gifts with treasures of his own, but the greatest of these was the knowledge of the Gift-giver from on high. I cherished that.
In the years that passed upon my return to my own country, I studied the Law and the writings of Israel’s prophets. They confirmed all that Solomon had said, and they did more, much more. They changed my heart, lifted my burdens, and gave me a deep and abiding love for the One above all things: El Shaddai. I will worship Him forever.
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