Posted: December 4, 2015 in When the Wolf Howls
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Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 14

The man who was thrown at Obed-edom’s feet was tied by the hands and had obviously been beaten. His swollen and bruised face gave evidence that he had resisted capture. Obed-edom knew the man. He was a sentry from one of the Philistine fortresses near his own village and he wondered why he had not been killed.

“Take care of this man. I may need him later,” said Joab to Obed-edom roughly and then turning to his own men he said, “Don’t let him out of your sight or you will answer to me.”

Obed-edom took the man back to the house, lay him on a mat on the floor and cleaned the man’s wounded face with clean water. While he did this he sought to find out from him what was happening in Philistia. The man was unable to speak coherently for some time.

“Why didn’t they kill you?” asked Obed-edom when the man was suitably recovered.

“Because they wanted information from me about the movements of our army.”

“Did you tell them anything?”

“I had no choice,” said the soldier. Obed-edom was disgusted and the soldier sought to justify his actions. “They would have killed me if I had remained silent. It won’t make any difference anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“As long as we remain alive, we will be free in the next few days. Already the whole of the Philistine army is gathering together at the valley of Rephaim against Israel. Molech will have his vengeance.”

Obed-edom shuddered. He had not expected that his freedom would come in such a way as this, and after so many years of captivity he was surprised that he did not feel any sense of relief. As he looked at Barzillai giving instructions to his sons, he wondered what lay ahead, not with a sense of hope but with dread. He knew how cruel his Philistine overlords would be as they swept through Israel, raping the women and killing or torturing the men and children.

Apart from being circumcised, Obed-edom and his sons had been treated well by Joab and Barzillai, and although it had taken some years for him to learn the language of the people of Israel, in time he had been able to communicate some of his more advanced methods of smithing. He had proved himself to be a faithful servant, eventually earning the right to have slaves under his authority.

Trustworthy slaves were given a great deal of freedom and he was eventually able to conduct business of his own under his master’s control. He had watched carefully for opportunities to escape, but Joab was a careful administrator of his slaves and the only real chances Obed-edom had been while Joab was away at war. Somehow Obed-edom had always waited for better opportunities. He had told himself that he did not want to endanger the lives of his sons, but in truth he had come to respect the king and people of this nation and life was somehow fulfilling.

Now it seemed that soon he and his sons would once again to be involved in making Philistia a great nation, free from the invading influences of king David and his God. Once again he would serve Molech the terrible and a host of other gods. He tried not to think of his misgivings but they overwhelmed him and he felt extremely depressed.

As David and Joab went to war from Jerusalem Obed-edom found himself desperately empty inside. He was not able to concentrate on even the simplest of duties that day and Barzillai had been frustrated with him. The two of them had worked closely together for some years and Obed-edom had always been reliable.

“I cannot do my work if you do not do yours,” Barzillai said.

“I am sorry, my friend,” said Obed-edom “I have been pre-occupied with thoughts about king David’s war with my people and I can’t help but wonder at the outcome of the next few days. Perhaps it would be better if both of us had escaped some years ago.”

“I could never go back to serving the demon gods of my fathers,” said Barzillai, “I have come to know the one true God and Him only will I serve and if I must die then I am in His hands. Besides, God will protect king David. Before Joab left, he told me that God has promised David deliverance. You should be more concerned about your own people.” Obed-edom could not continue the conversation. Despair seemed to seep through into his very soul. David was vastly outnumbered and the Philistines had superior weapons.

That night as he returned home he decided to walk along the track that led to the mine. The guards let him pass. He had long been given the freedom to come and go as he needed to in this area. He walked to the top of the hill and looked out over the mountainous terrain. There in a secluded place between some large rocks he began to weep and pray for the first time to the God of Israel.

“God of David, have mercy upon me, a slave, for I have sinned against You!” he cried out and in that barren place a deep sense of the presence of God seemed to encompass him and he suddenly found himself lying prostrate, crying out that God would spare king David and his master Joab. For hours, he remained there interceding until the dark secret places of his heart were completely laid bare before God.

“Oh, God,” he groaned “You once took slaves from Egypt and brought them to this land. Now take this slave and release me from the captivity I have felt within. Release me from the power of Molech and let me serve You. Have mercy upon me and forgive me for I can no longer follow the ways of my people or my gods.” Then it seemed like something broke deep inside with an almost audible ring as the shackles of his heart seemed to fall away.

That night a smelting furnace was lit within his soul and all the dross came to the surface to be skimmed away by God Himself. God was forming something beautiful within him. He was becoming an instrument fashioned by the master craftsman’s hands and he knew that he would never be the same. Still the fire burned, until his spirit awakened in the flame and he reached his hands upward in praise to his maker. He had attended the sacrifices made for Barzillai’s family. Now he desperately wanted to make an offering himself for his own sins and the sins of his own family. For the first time in his life, he felt free of the burdens of his own sin. It all seemed to make sense to him as he raised his hands and his heart towards the heavens that night.

The next day he rose early and prayed. It was a Sabbath day and his sons were astonished, but out of respect they did not question his strange behaviour. Then as soon as Barzillai was awake, Obed-edom began directing a series of questions at him.

“Is it possible for me to serve and worship the God of Israel like you do?”

“Of course it is possible.” said Barzillai.

“Then what must I do? I must act immediately. God has met with me last night and I must know how I can serve Him before we are defeated by my people the Philistines.” said Obed-edom with a desperate look of concern in his eyes. Barzillai laughed.

“This sounds serious. We will talk with one of the priests, but I suggest you don’t mention being overrun by the Philistines. They may object. In the meantime, relax.” Barzillai and Obed-edom looked at each other. These two old men already had a mutual respect which had developed over the years and the seeds of friendship had also grown. Barzillai hugged his old companion who began to weep. Many tears would come in the days ahead which would purge the years of desolation he had lived without God.


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