What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
King Solomon’s Greatest Surety
There are many story legends about the relationship of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. There are also many proverbs of King Solomon’s views on how foolish it is to take on excessive debt and wind up losing the surety the borrower pledges for a loan or credit. In ancient times, there was no relief of declaring bankruptcy and a borrower could even wind up becoming a slave to the lender to pay back debt. In modern times, high interest results in essence to make a foolish credit spender become a slave of sorts to the lender when the high interest results in him or her never being able to pay back the principle. In a novel excerpt, I surmise how Solomon felt about taking a vow to his God to appease the legendary agreement made between them.The novel is a contemporary application of a story form to promote understanding of proverbs and ancient wise sayings in relation to our modern times.
“I was hoping you would say that Solomon. I believe there is a problem we most discuss candidly to prevent us from becoming distracted from the reason of my visit.”
“A problem, I pray I have I not said or done something to offend you.”
Bilqis hesitated to answer for a while. Her eyes looked briefly at me and then demurely turned down toward her cup of tea, as if she was gathering her thoughts. Finally, she looked up directly into my eyes and replied in a steady controlled tone of voice.
“It is not your words. The problem is that you are a handsome charming King with over two hundred wives and concubines that you charmed or perhaps even seduced by force. I am concerned you may do the same to me, as I am a vulnerable woman now residing in your palace.”
Surprise apparently appeared on my face as Bilqis paused briefly before continuing her explanation.
“You gaze at me because I seem to interest you more for my beauty rather than my intellect. I have to admit that, as a woman, I find your looks and bearing to be very appealing and charismatic. We seem to be distracting each other from the reason for my visit. That is to learn about your wisdom and test you with hard questions. I want you to agree never to force yourself upon me.” She looked directly at me as she concluded her concerns.
I considered her statements. I was dismayed that she did not trust me and concerned I would ever use force to dishonor her. I was also surprised with her candid admission of feeling attracted to me, same as I was to her. To establish trust between us, I had to weigh my reply very carefully. I must not offend Bilqis by making any statement that would imply that I was more powerful or superior to her.
My reply must prevent my thrusting a sword to wound our new fragile relationship. Part of wisdom is the ability to use political or social effectiveness to get on with all types of people and win their confidence. I must establish a conciliatory relationship to prevent bitterness and barriers to develop between us. There is a person whose speech is like sword thrusts, but the speech of wise men is a therapy. (Proverb 12:18)
“I apologize if I made you feel uncomfortable in any way. May I suggest we make our first agreement? I will promise never to take anything from you by force. In return, to make all our agreements equally beneficial, will you also agree never to take anything of mine by force?”
Bilqis’s face showed surprise to my proposal and then changed to an expression of wariness before she replied.
“Solomon, since you are undoubtedly physically stronger than me, and you have promised that I may have anything I desire in your kingdom, why I must agree to your proposal which you state is mutually beneficial?”
“Because Bilqis, we Israelites believe that in order for there to be an enforceable agreement, surety must be pledged by both parties. In addition, a formal gesture made to effect their agreement. We have a custom of striking hands to seal an agreement or else have the agreement put in writing if the parties are wary of each other. I believe we only need to strike hands on this matter. Do you agree?”
“What will your surety be Solomon? Feminine honor is my surety. What do you believe to be the greatest surety of honor for an Israelite King to risk? In addition, who will you be accountable to if you broke your agreement?”
“Bilqis, I and my word of honor are accountable to my God. There is no greater surety a man may lose than the favor of his God. My faith and religious beliefs are that only a fool would purposely choose to disavow their God. I also believe a truly wise person possesses control of both their mind and body.”
She looked intently at me as she considered my answer.
“Make a vow now to your God never to break your agreement.”
“I swear to Yahweh, the God of my people, I will never take anything of yours by force.”
“Good. Now show me how we must strike hands to seal our first agreement.”
As we stuck hands to seal our agreement, I thought about fools that pledge personal surety for debt agreements and wind up having their bed taken from them when it came time to pay back on their promises. I had just taken a vow never to force myself upon this beautiful desirable woman or forsake my God. To break my promise, I would become the greatest of fools for losing my greatest possession, the favor of my God. Do not make a habit of striking hands, of going surety for debts. If you have no resources to settle them, why should your bed be taken from under you! (Proverbs 22:25, 26)
As A Lily Among Thorns – A Story of King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and the Goddess of Wisdom by Rudy U Martinka
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