A Parable for those among us who would be a king . . .
The King tossed about upon his bed, rolling first to one side and then the other. He was asleep, but rest would not be a part of this sleep. Troubling visions danced in his dreams all through the night; visions of gardens and trees and fruit. Animals, wild and tame, romped through his mind. As the morning drew near, the visions formed with more and more clarity as the king now saw a great tree growing up in the midst of the garden. It was a mighty tree whose girth could scarcely be measured and in its height reached into heaven. The tree could be seen from every part of the garden.
The tree was lush with great, deep green leaves and upon its boughs hung the most desirable fruit, of every kind. Animals gathered peacefully beneath its great boughs to find shade and birds found a haven in its branches, as both man and beast feasted upon its bountiful fruit. Just to his right hand, the king heard a satisfying growl as a massive bear bit down upon a jackfruit. The enticing aroma filled his nostrils as the beast munched on the luscious fruit.
Colorful birds swooped and sang through the massive branches of the extraordinary tree that stood before him, picking fruit in full flight before settling in on sturdy branches to enjoy its generous nourishment. As far as the king could see there was nothing that was not beautiful. The whole of the garden radiated exotic colors even as a refreshing dew softly rested upon the garden, kissing every leaf and blossom. Surely, the king had never been in such a beautiful and restful place.
But then…The Watcher came...a messenger from the gods. The king was bathed in the watcher’s dark shadow; his peace was swallowed up in terror. On his bed, the body of the king stiffened under the sound of the Watcher’s bellowing voice. The warm sun slipped behind dark clouds and the king could hear the flutter of wings and the furtive steps of beasts as they fled into the garden. Where tranquility had been, fear froze the garden in a dark, grey pallor.
Hew It Down!!!!
The Watcher stood before the king and with a voice as terrifying as death itself, he cried, “Hew down the tree, lop off its branches, shake off its leaves and scatter its fruit. No beast shall find shade and bird shall not find shelter –– neither man nor beast shall feed upon its fruit.”
The king trembled as the massive tree slowly swayed first one way and then the other before it finally fell in with a massive, thunderous, crash sending debris flying in all directions. The aromatic air of the garden suddenly went foul, a stench of rot and death rose up in its place. Before the king’s eyes, the docile beasts that had fed together in peace beneath the mighty limbs now turned upon one another as the stronger devoured the weak seeing it was better to eat the meat of another than the dying rotting fruit that now lay scattered upon the ground.
“This is a matter decreed by the Watchers, and set according to the words of the holy ones so that the living may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomever He wills and sets up over the basest of men.”
The King sat bolt upright in his bed, awakened by his own groanings. Bathed in his own sweat and trembling with great fear, he called to his butler – “Bring me the magician!”
“Yes Sire, I shall forthwith send for a magician, at your command,” as he scurried from the King’s chambers.
The King bellowed after him, “I don’t want A magician – I want THE magician. Bring me Belteshazzar. I will hear no other.”
Soon, the slave whom the King had named Belteshazzar arrived in his palatial chambers.
“My friend, I have called for you because I know that the spirit of the Most High God is in you, and these many years you have faithfully discerned the meanings of my dreams. Hear now, my vision, and tell me its meaning.”
As the King, related his vision, Belteshazzar’s spirit became deeply troubled. He sat for long moments considering the words the King had spoken and the images he had described. The King insisted: “Tell me the meaning of the dream!”
The humble slave spoke quietly, carefully measuring his words. “O King, how I wish this dream revealed calamity for your enemies…but alas, it does not. The great tree you saw in your dream is you, and this vision is a warning against your great pride. You have grown to be strong. Your greatness is matched by no other king, and your kingdom reaches to the furthest ends of the earth. But O King, your pride has outgrown your Kingdom and you are filled with self-love and self-admiration . . . you fail to acknowledge the Holy God who raises up Kingdoms and hews them down.”
Belteshazzar continued, choosing his words with great care, “The Watchman will come and he will cut you down. You will roam in the wilderness like an animal until you learn that it is the Most High who rules over the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomever He chooses. I implore you, O Great King, give heed to the vision you have been given, acknowledge the greatness of the Holy One.”
With this careful warning, the seer departed from the presence of the king, heavy with dread…for he knew in his heart the king had not received his words.
Time passed…almost one year and no calamity had befallen the kingdom. Surely . . . finally . . . the wisdom of the king’s magician had failed him. The interpretation of the dream had not come to pass. The king awakened from a night of restful, blissful sleep. With a wave of his hand, he shooed the bevy of concubines from his chamber as he strolled to his balcony to bathe himself in the warm morning sun. As he gazed out upon the beauty of his legendary city resting serenely in the midst of his great gardens, sun-rays ignited the gold plated towers and jewel-encrusted temples to the many gods he pretended to serve. He filled his lungs with the sweet aroma of the flora that surrounded him and great pride swelled up within him.
Spreading his arms, draped with the majestic robes of his royalty, embroidered with images that chronicled his many conquests, the king cried out with a loud voice, “Is this not the great kingdom that I myself have built as a royal residence by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
While these prideful words were still in his mouth, the still morning air was shattered by the terrible voice of the Watcher, ”O King to you I say. The kingdom is snatched from your hand! Your mind is departed and you shall be driven away from men. Your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You will feed on grass like an ox until you know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomever He pleases.”
Instantly, the thing was fulfilled concerning the king.
Visit the publications page to explore more writing by Michael Gantt