Sage and Song, Chapter 4: The Wrong Turn

Sage and Song header

Chapter 4: The Wrong Turn

I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting
time making wrong turns.
Hold tight to good advice;
Don’t relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake!
PROVERBS 4:12–13 MSG

Kester hesitated at a turning. Am I supposed to continue along the colonnade or cross this courtyard? The sprawling home of Israel’s king was extravagant in every detail. Lush gardens. Shapely columns. Detailed carvings. This way? With a pensive glance at the sky, Kester darted across the open square and through the opposite archway. A row of potted palms seemed vaguely familiar, but he was far from confident. If only Asaph had been invited.

Before parting the night before, Solomon had said, “Come to me in the morning, before the gates open and men flood my courts. Come early, and I will be waiting. With the harp, and with something more.”

The invitations of kings were as good as commands, but Kester dearly wished that Solomon had been more specific. I must go to him, but where do I go? Being sent for is nothing like being Sent.

Kester had been all over the palace and even into the surrounding city, but always when Sent after some snippet of song. At times like that, the way was bright before him, and in his eagerness to reach his destination, he paid little attention to his surroundings. There and back. Safe and sure. But this time, he was lost and late.

Is this the same fountain I passed earlier? As the sun gained strength, hammered gold took on a warm luster. Kester trailed his fingers along a column of exquisite workmanship. Almond blossoms and pomegranates wove their way up to sprays of palm fronds at the finial. He was neither impressed nor bothered by the palace’s grandeur, which fell short of heaven’s glories. Riches were one thing, but reputation was another. And Solomon’s good opinion was something Kester wished to keep.

The next passage brought him to a wide staircase that led down into a garden where peacocks roosted in the branches of fruit trees. A winding path overhung with flowering vines took the boy to the top of a terraced slope, which was dotted with small buildings. Smoke drifted into the air, but it didn’t smell like cookfires.

An odd muskiness overtook his senses, and rising incense barely covered the slick-sweet stench of decay. Kester covered his nose and mouth, sick at heart and to his stomach. When the heavy drone of deep voices took up a chant, the boy clamped his hands over his ears. Wrong. All wrong! This is wrong!

He reached for Asaph with his thoughts, crying out, I am lost.

His mentor calmly answered, Fear not. Help is near.

Kester shuffled backward and found another path leading away from the unholy clamor. He retreated along the shaded alley only to run up against a dead end. I am lost, he repeated, hugging himself to stop from trembling. And I am afraid.

Suddenly, a hand closed around Kester’s arm. He wrenched and wriggled, but a familiar voice cut through his panic.

“Take it easy, newbie.”

The tall guardsman. The one Asaph had called trustworthy. Kester stopped trying to get away, but he couldn’t stop shaking. “C-captain,” he stammered, eyes watering.

“Didn’t I tell you to holler if you ran into trouble?”

Kester crowded close to the old man, using him as a shield. “I am lost.”

“Figured as much,” he said kindly. “This is no place for a child who worships God Most High.”

“What are those places?” he asked shakily.

“Shrines and temples to foreign gods.”

“H-here? Within sight of His footstool.”

Indignation flickered briefly across the captain’s face. “Solomon has wives from all over the place. It didn’t take long for them to figure out that their husband was using his wealth to build a magnificent house for Israel’s God. They pitched a fit, saying it wasn’t fair, and demanded their own places of worship. At first, Solomon refused, but all their weeping and whining wore him out. So he decided to be generous. He tolerates their idolatry so he can have a little peace.”

Kester understood then. The enemy is there. They have a foothold within the palace.

“Don’t come this way again,” the captain said. “It’s not safe for a little guy like you.”

“I have no wish to return.”

“I’ll teach you which paths are safe, but that’s a lesson for another day.” The captain straightened and offered his hand. “Come on, Kester.”

Accepting the clasp, he held tight. “Can you lead me to the king?”

“You got it,” the captain replied. “Solomon’s throne room is this way.”


♦ Do you prefer to travel by freeway or by back roads? Why?

♦ Have you ever been lost? How did you find your way back?

♦ How do you suppose someone as wise as Solomon could have ended up compromising his beliefs?


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Author’s Note: This story is a prequel to Christa Kinde’s Threshold Series [Zonderkidz] and updates twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays). More information can be found on the Sage and Song index page.

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13 thoughts on “Sage and Song, Chapter 4: The Wrong Turn

  1. Sheay says:

    I prefere the quickest way to get to wherever I am going. I do not recall ever being lost. The reason the king compromised is easy: Perepressure! It torments the mind and breaks the will, if one forgets to relay on The Most High’s strength.

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  2. J. Parkhurst says:

    When time allows, I prefer the back roads as I dislike the hustle and bustle of freeways and the barely contained chaos that they frequently are. (I’m also not an assertive driver, so there’s that as well).
    I have been lost at various points in time and in various ways as well. Breathing, stepping back and assessing the situation and trusting God have all played key roles in getting me back on the right track and direction.

    All it takes for anyone- even the wisest of wise- is one little doubt, one fear, one bit of uncertainty before Satan can get a toehold in. If we do not carefully mind our thoughts, that toehold quickly escalates into a much larger problem, especially as we convince ourselves that everything is just fine.

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  3. I prefer the back roads. Though narrow and winding, excessive speed drains fuel and little of importance can be seen on the wide road. On the back roads I find inspiration for scenes and ideas for my stories. Also, the narrow road is by far more peaceful and entertaining than the wide road. ;)
    I have been lost twice while being a passenger. Once when I was little my mom was taking us to Ann Arbor and she lost her way. She ended up calling my dad, who is a truck driver and knows Michigan like the back of his weathered hand, and he told us the way home. The second time was when I was with my gal pal. We lost our way on the back roads between Frankenmuth and another town near by and I ended up remembering the right direction back home.
    Solomon’s wisdom didn’t necessarily give him strong faith. He was weak in his relationship with God.

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  4. Eastar says:

    I love the back ways!
    it aways seems like a surprise when I get whee I need to go sooo quickly!
    I unfortuneatly have a hard time getting lost though I am good at loosing track of things like time

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  5. Arian says:

    I think Sheay is right about Solomon being pressured into allowing the shrines.

    Even if his wives weren’t strictly his peers, there were lots of them, and only one of him. I imagine the amount of pressure they could exert en masse was considerable! And they were able to keep it up, too – taking shifts, so to speak. :) A person would have to be greater than human to resist that forever.

    Or, of course, have help from Someone who was. ;)

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  6. Arian says:

    I get lost very easily, in the sense that I’m often not sure whether I’m going the right way, or I realise that it was in fact the wrong way. I usually turn around and walk back to where it looks reasonably familiar, and then try again. Occasionally, I ring my husband and say, “I’m trying to get to [place]. I’m currently on X Street, and I can see A, B and C. What have I done wrong?”

    I have no idea why my visual memory for places is so bad. My (in)ability to draw is unusually bad too, which is odd considering my eldest daughter is an artist and graphic designer. I’d like to think that her drawing is compensation for her not having my near-perfect eye for mistakes in text – which I inherited from my mother, who can’t draw either. On the other hand, my brother can draw, and has an excellent mental spellchecker as well. So I dunno. :)

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  7. Arian says:

    I think I prefer the freeway if I’ve never been to the place I’m going before. If it starts Here and goes directly to There, there’s less chance of my getting lost on the way. If I know exactly where I’m going, I’ll sometimes take varying routes, just to give myself something new to look at. :)

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  8. Megan says:

    I like the back ways. Some of the best things in life would be missed if we only took the freeway. This makes me think of the spiritual walk. God calls us to a narrow path that many times twists and turns in unexpected way to take you through unexpected places. He also calls us to avoid following the masses down the wide road that leads to destruction. I am not saying that freeways lead to destruction but that back roads offer unexpected blessings we too willingly avoid.

    I have been lost before. Mostly this happens because I don’t drive and yet people expect me to give accurate and helpful directions. It doesn’t always work out well. Usually we find a way back, many times through prayer, but usually I find an adventure along the way.

    Solomon was wise in many ways. I would wager that he pretty much always knew more than he shared freely. My wonder is whether his wisdom was only contained in his head or also in his heart. When we only know facts in our head not our hearts even about God we are less willing to hold up to resistance against those facts.

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  9. Jesslyn says:

    It depends on how familiar I am with the place and how much I time I have to get from Point A to Point B. If I don’t know where I’m going, I prefer the freeway (with a GPS if need be). But if I’m familiar with the place and have time, I prefer back roads because they are usually much more scenic and different, which I find very appealing.

    I’ve been lost more than once (I am directionally challenged), but the time of most significance was when I was six years old. My family just moved into a new house and I was harassing our dog to go outside. She ran out and I chased her, not paying attention to where I was going; I was just trying to grab the dog (who could easily drag me) and I got lost. Long story short, my parents called the police and there just so happened to be a patrol car in the area that picked me and the dog up (as Milo would put it, it was very providential!) and they took me home to be reunited with my family. <3 At the time, my mom was trying a new recipe for biscuits-and-gravy (which happened to be amazing!) and so my family always associates that dish with that memory. But it's not an unpleasant memory because there was lots of details that I didn't share (because that would make this story waaay too long!) that make it a good (and also kind of funny) memory. <3

    I suppose one's constant nagging might get someone to cave in to that other person's desires just to appease them. I hope I won't ever give into something that I know is wrong just to please someone else. :/ And Solomon loved his wives (according to the world's kind of love; it wasn't God's kind of love, because if it were, he would not have married so many women!), and I'm assuming that most people want to please their spouse(s).

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  10. Jesslyn says:

    I love this story, by the way. Kester is one of my favorite characters so I’m very excited to see what will transpire! He’s so adorable as a young one! :D

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