Chapter 8: The Hospitable Leader
Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon
to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.
Each man brought his present: articles of silver and
gold, garments, armor, spices, horses, and mules.
1 KINGS 10:24–25 NKJV
“Are you afraid of my pets?”
“No, my king.”
“Are you afraid of me?”
“No, my king.”
Solomon frowned thoughtfully as he tugged at the ear of a drowsing lion. “Are you at least impressed?”
Kester hesitated. “You wish to hear my impressions?”
The captain snorted, and the king sighed. But before anyone could clarify matters for Kester, a servant slipped through the double doors at the far end of the hall and scuttled forward. “If it pleases the king, your servants are ready to assemble. Those waiting outside the gates are enough to fill your court, and they do not come empty-handed!”
“By all means, let’s prepare.” Solomon stood, idly brushing at the lions’ fur on his robes. Tapping Kester’s shoulder, the king explained, “People are always dropping by, and I like to make them feel welcome. Will you help me?”
“Play.” Lifting the lion’s head harp from his throne, Solomon presented it to Kester. “Sit at my feet and make music. Gentle songs to set our guests at ease.”
“I am your servant.” Kester was glad to be entrusted with the precious instrument once again. He hugged the harp to his chest and asked, “Shall I play your father’s melodies?”
A slow smile spread across Solomon’s face. “That would please me greatly.”
Kester obediently took a seat on the king’s footstool and fiddled with tuning pegs. Servants and guards were filing into the throne room with a brisk, businesslike air. The boy was surprised—and very much relieved—when Asaph joined the scribes who kept the king’s records. My mentor is near.
Setting his fingers against the strings, Kester plucked a few notes, followed by the initial chords of one of David’s oldest psalms. But before he could lose himself in the music, the boy recalled something important. Catching the trailing end of Solomon’s embroidered sleeve, Kester waited breathlessly for the king to acknowledge him.
Solomon leaned down to whisper. “Go on. That’s always been one of my favorites.”
With another small tug, Kester asked, “Am I forgiven?”
The king’s eyebrows lifted. “Is that the shape your fears take?”
He wasn’t sure if fear was the right word, but he inclined his head.
“Take heart, Kester. You are both forgiven and favored by your king.” Solomon gently mussed the boy’s curly hair and added, “And don’t wander off. I have a gift for you, but it’ll have to keep until later.”
♦ What kinds of things impress you?
♦ Do you have a welcome mat at your house? What’s on it?
♦ In what sense is forgiveness a gift?
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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