In the hills near the great city of Jebus is a boy -- a poet who sings the songs he writes. He writes them for God and sings them to both God and his sheep.
His sheep know his voice. They love him and trust him. His presence means food, water and shelter from storms. It means protection from danger and death.
His hands, that deftly strum the harp and play the flute, are the same hands that wield the crook, guiding them from meadow to meadow and stream to stream. They're also the same hands that wield the sling and knife. They're the hands that slew the lion and then the bear when they showed up to devour them.
The same hands that care for them will kill for them. The young shepherd has proven himself, placing his life on the line for them, transitioning fluidly from poet to warrior and back again.
In his own estimation, he's not arrogant but confident. He's just one of many that make up a nation of folks that have returned to their homeland and are straining to regain their foothold in a land that was lost to them for centuries. Their monarch, once the apple of his people's eye, is mentally and spiritually declining causing an unhealthy and unholy atmosphere to grow and spread throughout his kingdom.
Things are looking grim but there is hope ...
One man, the most powerful and feared man in the kingdom, is privy to a secret that is about to change everything. Although the path to victory will be long, bloody and heartbreaking, victory will come, but it will be delivered at a high price and through many heart-wrenching sacrifices.
In great part, it will be brought about by the shepherd and poet who sings to his sheep. He's the same boy who views Jebus from from his father's hills, shaking his fist at the great city, shouting at her and reminding her that she will fall and her people defeated even if her collapse is 300 years overdue.
What the boy lacks in age and stature he makes up for in confidence and conviction. He is intimately familiar with his God and interacts with him every day. He knows that this is the same God who made the sun stand still and delivered Jericho to Joshua.
His name is David. He is the youngest son of Jesse, of the proud tribe of Judah, and his life is about to become seared into the heart of history for the rest of time.
The king-maker ...
Samuel, Israel's famous judge and prophet, the first priest of non-Levitican descent, irrefutable and powerful in presence, honored, adored and feared by all of Israel, is on his way to Bethlehem. His mission, once fulfilled will be the catalyst of deliverance from the reign of a king whose mind is clouded with madness.
The old priest's body is weary and his heart is broken, yet God's will must be carried out. It's what he was born to do, fulfilling the promise from a woman's lips to God's ears. He is God's man, and has served Him for decades, standing between Him and the people, living his life as a consistent sacrifice in love and duty to both.
Fallen from favor ...
He was the tallest, the most well-built and the most handsome man in the kingdom. He was kind, courteous, generous, brave and humble.
His name was Saul, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin and he was chosen by God to be anointed by Samuel and established as Israel's first king.
In the beginning, Saul's reign flourished. He rode about the kingdom in one campaign after another, successfully slaying the nation's enemies. His subjects loved him and many of them gave up an easier life to join him and personally serve him as servants and soldiers.
When the whole rigmarole of kingship began, Saul entered it as a good man, a man of integrity but somewhere along the way, his heart went south and took a turn along an ill path. He kicked his humble spirit to the curb as his confidence grew and graduated to arrogance.
Eventually, he quit playing by the rules. He simply made new ones and forced everyone to obey them. He was allowed to. He was the king.
The longer he bore the scepter and wore the crown, the more power-hungry he became as well as greedy and jealous. He allowed a wickedness to take hold of him and his soul continued to grow darker.
For all of Saul's increasing faults and failures, Samuel loved him still and prayed for him to recover. He did his best to guide him back to the path of right and good, but Saul wouldn't have it. The evil continued worming it's way through his soul, rotting it to the core.
God was patient but finally He turned his back on Saul and cast his eyes on the singing shepherd boy and the current began to shift.
Some new scent on the breeze got the attention of Israel and in turn got the attention of Saul. He might have still been the tallest and most handsome man in all of Israel but he was no longer God's favorite.
There was a new kid in town who had all the right moves. More importantly, he had the right heart. It wasn't perfect but it was repentant and packed a healthy dose of both love and fear toward his maker.
The more popular he got the more Saul hated him ... then things really started getting dicey!
You've never had it told like this!
Who would have thought that this story, one of the most told, re-told and told again stories, a favorite of gazillions of us since we were wee-listeners, sitting on our great-grandparents knees (that's where I first learned of the shepherd-king), could be told again in such a fresh and dazzling method that I'm lacking for words to describe how awesome it is?
Not me! I'm also in a near-daze to admit that this author can deliver it as well as Peretti. The only other writers of his genre that I've ever ranked with Peretti have been Tolkien, Lewis and Dickens ... until now.
Wow .... I'm not even sure how to feel about that but it's true.
I read this novel through yesterday, start to finish, and oh my goodness! Huge chunks of it have been reeling through my head since then!
In Booker's telling of this famous story you're gonna meet people, huge-whopping-famous and important people and feel like you've just done a midnight raid on an enemy camp with them, or hung out at the king's table with them, feeling very privileged while taking part of secret conversations, plans and schemes.
Past those folks are others you'll get closely acquainted with and join up with for experiences, equally important ones, that have great significance in the grander scheme of things but that often got overlooked in the traditional tellings.
This is a work of non-fiction blended with speculative fiction, and it all seamlessly and fits together to make one of the most amazing story tapestries you'll ever see.
My copy vs. the current version ...
I'd never heard of this author and on a hunch, I emailed an inquiry to one of my best friends, the one I claim as my sister by another mother, Gaylyne Price. In doing some research I learned that he lives on her side of the continent (California) and was curious as to whether or not she'd ever heard of him or had maybe met him or was at least familiar with his work.
Turns out that she's not only heard of him, she's good friends with him and so is her family, including her daddy, the oh-so-awesome, Elder Price. That made the discovery even more special for me.
Gaylyne has excellent taste in literature and let me know that there's not only a sequel to this book but that the writer has authored several other books, too. So, the thrill has only just begun with my discovery of this guy's work and I'm over-the-top excited about reading his other books as well, which Gaylyne has assured me are all of equally impressive caliber.
You made it!
Thank you for sticking with me through my breathless presentation and I hope I've compelled you to add this book to your library! It's suitable for young-adult readers and up, has no foul language or adult-only content, and would make for a fantastic gift!
Please don't forget, if you get it from amazon, when you've finished consider taking a few minutes and giving it a short review. This is a small thing that makes a big difference in supporting your favorite authors.
Don't fret, I promise to let you catch your breath before I regale you with a full-speed review of the sequel.
Thank you for your visit today, and I'll see ya back on Thursday at femme's Desk!
'Til then, God bless you, thank you for the read and please don't forget to thank a veteran at your next opportunity!
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marcoujor, Virtual Buskers' Guild
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