Sage and Song, Chapter 11: The Old Friend

Sage and Song header

Chapter 11: The Old Friend

He who loves purity of heart
And has grace on his lips,
The king will be his friend.
PROVERBS 22:11 NKJV

“Friends?” Solomon stroked his beard, half-hiding a smile that matched the sparkle in his eyes. “I suppose they do have that claim on me.”

Suppose?” echoed Asaph. “Would you deny us?”

“He can’t.” The captain claimed the last skewer of meat and shook it at the king. “We’re irreplaceable.”

“Don’t be too sure,” Asaph said mildly. “He has his eye on Kester.”

“Isn’t the kid a little young for the role of usurper?”

Disbelief painted Solomon’s face. “You know more than most the dangers of underestimating youth. How old were you when you met my father?”

“That was a long time ago. And this kid doesn’t have a slingshot.”

“He’s handier with the harp,” said Asaph.

“Deft and disarming.” The captain smirked. “Hard to say who’s at the mercy of whom.”

Do they misunderstand? Kester clambered to his feet and blurted, “I will not impose on your friendship!”

Asaph propped his chin on his hand and smiled. “Nor should the king impose upon ours.”

“Here it comes,” sighed Solomon.

The captain reached across the table to slap the king’s shoulder. “That’s the way. Take it like a man.”

“Let’s take it outside.” Solomon stood and stretched, then strolled out into the garden. He poked a finger between the bars of one of the many suspended cages. Clucking his tongue, he murmured compliments to a brightly-plumed bird before addressing Kester. “Don’t worry about your welcome. I already told you. You have your king’s favor.”

Executing a small bow, Kester said, “I am grateful for your forbearance.”

The king’s lips quirked, and he fixed Asaph with a bland look. “You knew I’d want him.”

“I know you very well, my king.”

“Then why withhold him?” Solomon grumbled.

Asaph placed his hand on Kester’s shoulder. “Must I say it again? My apprentice has been a great help in collecting your honored father’s songs. If you steal Kester, you’ll undermine my ability to carry out your own command.”

The captain spoke up then, his voice heavy with warning. “Those with everything shouldn’t take from those who only have one thing to cherish.”

Solomon’s gaze snapped to the old man’s face. “Nathan’s tale?”

“A rough paraphrase.”

“I’m surprised you’d bring that up.”

A careless shrug. A careful tone. “You’re a lot like your father.”

“Is that meant for a compliment?”

“Usually.”

Solomon’s smile faded. “Asaph and his apprentice are safe.”

Kester tried to follow the conversation, which wasn’t as friendly now. A strange tension vibrated between the king and the captain. And Asaph’s grip on his shoulder was tighter than it needed to be. Sighing softly over his loss, Kester asked, “Am I to return to my desk?”

“Every afternoon, without fail,” Asaph replied, his gaze fixed upon the king’s face. “And every other morning, except the Sabbath.”

The king immediately brightened. “You’ll share?”

“Within boundaries.”

Solomon said, “Name them.”

Asaph inclined his head. “This child has been set apart. He worships God Most High and Him alone. Do not press Kester into service in the shrines to foreign gods.”

“So be it.”

“Also, this child is a child,” said Asaph. “To protect Kester’s innocence, he will not sing or play in or around your harem.”

“So be it,” Solomon repeated. Taking a few steps to another cage, the king reached inside and withdrew a monkey no bigger than Kester’s hand. The tiny animal wrapped its ringed tail around Solomon’s fingers and hugged his thumb.

Kester was fascinated by the tiny perfection of its fingers. They look nimble enough to play a harp … if one could be made small enough. Before his imagination could wander too far, Solomon surprised Kester by placing the little monkey on his shoulder. It immediately rubbed its cheek against his, then tried to curl its tail around his nose.

“Will you visit me, Kester?” Solomon coaxed.

“You’re wasting your time with critters,” the captain drawled. “You had the kid with the harp.”

Asaph remarked, “A set of pipes or a tumbrel might be just as effective.”

“Oh?” Solomon peered interestedly at Kester. “Do you play other instruments?”

“I would like that. And ….”

The king’s expression sharpened. “And?”

Kester ventured a question that had been on his mind since the previous night. “If I sang, would you sing with me?”

All the keenness melted from Solomon’s eyes. “Yes.”

“And ….”

“There’s more?” the king asked in teasing tones.

“Yes, please.” Kester had been transcribing songs since his arrival, but he’d never met David. “I want to hear more about the father you love.”

“In that case, you should pester Benaiah to join us. Even I haven’t heard all the stories he could tell about my father’s exploits.”

Kester shifted from foot to foot. “Who?”

Solomon glanced quizzically at the other men. “Weren’t you properly introduced?”

The captain rubbed at the palm of his hand with one thumb. “It never came up.”

“Why am I not surprised? Kester, this doddering relic is actually quite famous,” Solomon revealed. “He’s not just any captain. He’s the captain.”

Which probably would have meant something if Kester was an ordinary boy. He looked between the captain and his mentor, hoping for further enlightenment.

“Benaiah commanded David’s personal guard,” explained Asaph. “The mighty men.”


♦ Do you know what story the captain alludes to as “Nathan’s tale”?

♦ How are you at remembering people’s names?

♦ Why are boundaries so important … both in Kester’s case and ours?


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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.

Sage and Song, © Copyright 2015 Christa Kinde, all rights reserved. If you want to receive an email whenever my stories update, subscribe to this blog. You can also watch for notifications on Twitter.

5 thoughts on “Sage and Song, Chapter 11: The Old Friend

  1. Beautiful says:

    1. No I don’t know what he’s taking about. ;)
    2. I’m pretty good. Unless they are ones that are very unique. Then I have trouble pronouncing them.
    3. I think the boundaries are there so that he and we as well will not fall. If Kester is around the other gods then it will tempt him to fall. Same with us, even though they aren’t gods. It is a form when you spend your time thinking not about money, video games, and sadly yes books. ;) bc if we start letting things slide. It will slide and then fall

    Like

  2. Hi,

    Remembering the past might have kept Solomon from future trouble. His father struggled and suffered for his faith while Solomon was born into a life of ease as it were. His success had its foundations on another’s faith, too.
    Does this sound like our kids today, even in the church? They may feel a little more entitled then they should be.

    Keeping boundaries keeps us from compromising with the world and slowly wash the color from our faith. Are we seeing the Lord warning Solomon through this young boy’s life?
    Maybe?

    Enjoy your writing,

    Gary

    Like

  3. Arian says:

    I do know the story, and it’s probably been long enough since you asked that I can direct to it without spoiling any surprises. For those who are mystified, see 2 Samuel 12. :)

    I’m quite good at remembering names, for some reason. I’m especially good at calling someone by their new name if they’ve changed it for any reason, or if they’re known by different names in different contexts. A lot of people seem to struggle with that.

    Boundaries exist to keep us where it’s safe. On our Australian beaches, we have surf lifesavers who keep an eye out for people who might need help while swimming, and they watch the area between a pair of big coloured flags, set up each day on the safest part of the beach.

    Sometimes people choose to swim outside the flags, where there aren’t nearly as many other swimmers. And they take the double risk of not being easily visible to the surf lifesavers, and of falling victim to whatever hazard (e.g. rips, marine creatures, huge waves) caused that part of the beach to be left out of the flagged area in the first place.

    A sensible person observes the boundaries put in place for their safety and in their best interests.

    Like

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