Chapter 32: The Terrible Solution
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
PROVERBS 3:7 NLT
Kester felt sure that Solomon’s judgment would be wise. Is he not blessed by God? He couldn’t fathom why a sword was needed, but neither did he understand all of God’s plans. Surely good will come out of this trouble. Even when the king took the squirming infant into his arms and stepped back, Kester trusted the king to bring about a favorable outcome.
Until he saw Solomon’s face.
The hard glint in the king’s eyes stirred uneasiness in the young angel’s heart. And Solomon’s next words stole his very breath.
“The solution is simple. I’ll divide the child in two.” He hefted the borrowed weapon. “Each woman can take half.”
Badly startled, Kester’s fingers curled against the strings of David’s harp. A faint note shivered into the deathly silence that settled over the throne room.
The king spared him a glance—quick, flat, and full of warnings.
Even though Kester was new, he’d seen enough death to recognize its nearness. Old age and sickness. Accident and injury. Even the blood of sacrifice at the temple. They were evidence of sin’s taint. But to end this dispute in murder? I do not understand.
Solomon’s gaze slid to the boy cowering at Kester’s side, and for an instant, his expression flickered. But the moment passed, and he faced forward with grim resolve.
“Isn’t this fair?” demanded the king. “Do you accept my judgment?”
“No!” The second woman, the one with a limp bundle half-forgotten in her arms, inched forward. “No! Please, you can’t!”
“O, King, you are wise.” Bitterness twisted the first woman’s features. “Do what you think is best.”
“I … I changed my mind!” Pale and quaking, the second woman fell to her knees. “Give him to her. Let her keep him!”
“Is that truly what you want?” asked Solomon.
She bowed low. “Spare his life.”
Although Kester didn’t want to miss what happened next, he grew increasingly aware of Lemuel’s tension. One look at the boy’s face was enough to shift the young angel’s priorities. He set down the harp and turned his back on the room, giving Lemuel his full attention.
“Fear not,” he murmured. “I am with you.”
But Lemuel stared at him with wide, unseeing eyes.
“I don’t like this. I don’t want to see.”
Kester considered the problem, then offered the simplest solution. Pulling the prince into a tentative embrace, he said, “Then close your eyes.”
Lemuel hid his face against Kester’s tunic and whined, “Make it stop.”
“I hate you.”
“That is also something I cannot do.”
Just then, Solomon’s voice boomed. “Hear me now, for this is wisdom!”
Lemuel scrunched closer, his breaths quick and shallow.
Sensing a shift in mood, Kester shook the prince’s shoulder. “Look.”
“Don’t wanna.” And the boy clamped his hands over his ears.
But as Solomon gazed at the little one tucked in the crook of his arm, Kester saw his gentled expression. Here was a father. Here was a man who counted life as precious.
“The child is safe,” Kester reported, but Lemuel didn’t hear.
King Solomon said, “The sword shall not touch this child, and by no means will he be divided. For any can see which of these two is truly his mother.”
Whispers turned to exclamations as the people realized what Solomon had done. Now that the first woman’s lie was exposed, the truth seemed obvious.
The king stepped over to the woman who had begged for her son’s life. Red-eyed and tear-stained, she set aside her burden and lifted trembling arms. And when Solomon spoke a blessing and passed the little one to his true mother, she thanked him with a smile made beautiful by gratitude.
“It is over.” Kester tugged Lemuel’s fingers from his ears. “Your father opened every eye to the truth.”
But when the prince opened his eyes, all he saw was his father climbing toward them, a sword still in his hand. With a whimper, Lemuel cowered behind his companion.
Solomon hesitated at the top of the stairs. “I thought he was growing accustomed to the lions.”
“He saw you,” said Kester. “He saw you when you were terrible.”
“Surely you realize that was a ploy.”
“I do. But he believed you.”
“I would never slaughter a child of my kingdom.”
“Those women believed you would.” Kester nodded to the room, which was abuzz with awe and amazement. “I do not think they were alone.”
The king winced. “I never …”
At Solomon’s signal, the throne room began emptying. He reclaimed his seat, leaning over its arm to gaze at the prince who refused to meet his gaze. “My sons are paraded through this hall to see its grandeur and to know their father’s majesty. But this room is too big, this throne too lofty.”
Kester waited wordlessly.
Eventually, Solomon reached out, but he hesitated to touch his son’s hair. Tousling Kester’s instead, he said, “Take him out. Calm him down. And bring him to Asaph’s archive tonight. Perhaps there he can see something other than the exalted King of Israel who rules with terrifying wisdom.”
Author’s Note: This story is a prequel to Christa Kinde’s Threshold Series [Zonderkidz] and updates on Mondays. More information can be found on the Sage and Song index page. Sage and Song, © Copyright 2015–2016 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.