King Solomon and The Birds ~ from The Curious Book of Birds
King Solomon and The Birds – Part 2
ne day when Solomon was journeying across the desert, he was sorely distressed by the heat of the sun, until he came near to fainting. Just then he spied a flock of his friends the Hoopoes flying past, and calling to them feebly he begged them to shelter him from the burning rays.
The King of the Hoopoes gathered together his whole nation and caused them to fly in a thick cloud over the head of Solomon while he continued his journey. In gratitude the wise King offered to give his feathered friends whatever reward they might ask.
For a whole day the Hoopoes talked the matter over among themselves, then their King came to Solomon and said to him,—
“We have considered your offer, O generous King, and we have decided that what we most desire is to have, each of us, a golden crown on his head.”
King Solomon smiled and answered, “Crowns of gold shall you have. But you are foolish birds, my Hoopoes; and when the evil days shall come upon you and you see the folly of your desire, return here to me and I will help you yet again.”
So the King of the Hoopoes left King Solomon with a beautiful golden crown upon his head. And soon all the Hoopoes were wearing golden crowns. Thereupon they grew very proud and haughty. They went down by the lakes and pools and strutted there that they might admire themselves in the water mirrors. And the Queen of the Hoopoes became very airy, and refused to speak to her own cousin and to the other birds who had once been her friends.
There was a certain fowler who used to set traps for birds. He put a piece of broken mirror into his trap, and a Hoopoe spying it went in to admire herself, and was caught. The fowler looked at the shining crown upon her head and said, “What have we here! I never saw a crown like this upon any bird. I must ask about this.”
So he took the crown to Issachar, the worker in metal, and asked him what it was. Issachar examined it carefully, and his eyes stuck out of his head. But he said carelessly, “It is a crown of brass, my friend. I will give you a quarter of a shekel for it; and if you find any more bring them to me. But be sure to tell no other man of the matter.” (A shekel was about sixty-two cents.)
After this the fowler caught many Hoopoes in the same way, and sold their crowns to Issachar. But one day as he was on his way to the metalworker’s shop he met a jeweler, and to him he showed one of the Hoopoes’ crowns.
“What is this, and where did you find it?” exclaimed the jeweler. “It is pure gold. I will give you a golden talent for every four you bring me.” (A talent was worth three hundred shekels.)
Now when the value of the Hoopoes’ crowns was known, every one turned fowler and began to hunt the precious birds. In all the land of Israel was heard the twang of bows and the whirling of slings. Bird lime was made in every town, and the price of traps rose in the market so that the trap-makers became rich men. Not a Hoopoe could show his unlucky head without being slain or taken captive, and the days of the Hoopoes were numbered. It seemed that soon there would be no more Hoopoes left to bewail their sad fate.
At last the few who still lived gathered together and held a meeting to consider what should be done, for their minds were filled with sorrow and dismay. And they decided to appeal once more to King Solomon, who had granted their foolish prayer.
Flying by stealth through the loneliest ways, the unhappy King of the Hoopoes came at last to the court of the King, and stood once more before the steps of his golden throne. With tears and groans he related the sad fortune which had befallen his golden-crowned race.
King Solomon looked kindly upon the King of the Hoopoes and said, “Behold, did I not warn you of your folly in desiring to have crowns of gold? Vanity and pride have been your ruin. But now, that there may be a memorial of the service which once you did me, your crowns of gold shall be changed into crowns of feathers, and with them you may walk unharmed upon the earth.”
In this way the remaining Hoopoes were saved. For when the fowlers saw that they no longer wore crowns of gold upon their heads, they ceased to hunt them as they had been doing. And from that time forth the family of the Hoopoes have flourished and increased in peace, even to the present day.
When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 NASB)
Vanity means – “too much pride in oneself or in how one looks.”
Pride can mean – “a sense of one’s own value that is too high.” or “an inborn feeling of self-worth.” (One of these definitions is good and the other bad.)
Was our King of the Hoopoes showing good or bad pride? When we think too much of ourself and think we are better or nicer looking. (“Look at me, I have a gold crown.”)
You could work hard on a project and win a gold ribbon or metal for that effort. If you wore that ribbon around your neck, would your attitude about it be a good or bad pride?
Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalms 106:1 NKJV)
Hoopoes – Upupidae Family