A little while ago, a little ways away, sits a sleepy little town. Little happens in this little town, little chance it will. The little baker bakes his little bread, and the cobbler cobbles his little shoes. The little river turns a little wheel for the little miller’s mill.
In the middle of this little town you’ll see a little hill. On the little hill stands a little castle and a little flag flying overhead. Inside, on a little golden throne sits a little king with a little golden crown. His Little Majesty barks little orders to his little soldiers, who pick up their little swords and take their little stations on the little walls around the little town. They watch and they guard, but there’s little to see. Little happens in this little town, little chance it will.
Then one day a little lookout, looking through a little glass, saw a little cloud of dust rising behind a little distant hill. A little worried, he sent a little message back to the king: “A little something I see.” The king’s curt reply: “Report back in a little while.”
The little cloud grew a little, then grew a little more. Suddenly, out of the big cloud strode a big king on a big black horse. Behind him marched a big army of big soldiers with big red shields, big shiny swords, big spiky boots.
A big messenger approached the little wall. He unrolled a big scroll and thundered in a big voice, “Surrender, little town, or we shall knock your little walls down!” As he spoke, enormous catapults were wheeled into place, big oxen with big horns yoked to big carts hauling big boulders drove up, while big ugly men with big, bulging muscles prepared to fire the big machines.
The little people of the little town were more than a little afraid. The little king held a little meeting with his little nobles, but the little group knew there was little they could do. After a little silence, a little voice spoke up, “Your Majesty, I have a little plan.”
The little king gave a little glance and then a little smirk. For there, in a little corner, stood a little old man. Now this was the little old man who lived in a little tumble-down house at the end of a little dusty street. He was wearing a little old coat two sizes too small (it was all he could afford, he had so little money) and covering his little old head (which had only a little hair), he wore a little old hat.
“What’s your name, my little man, and what’s your little plan?” the king asked with a half-hearted smile. “I’ll humor him a minute or two,” he thought to himself, “after all, what harm would it do?” With a little bow, the old man approached the little throne and told the king his little scheme.
The little king stroked his little gray beard, knitted his little bushy brow, looking a little like someone thinking big things. But he was only paying a little attention, for, truth be told, he was a little distracted by other little things. A little dog was chasing a little cat around a little table, that was fun to watch. A little clock chimed a little tune, it must be six o’clock. A little whiff of a little peach pie came wafting in from the little kitchen, making his tummy just a little bit rumbly. Little wonder the little king heard so little of the poor little man’s plan.
The poor little old man was not the least perturbed. He left the little castle, walked down the little hill on the little cobblestone street until he came to the little town gate, and asked to be let through. The little gatekeeper gave him a cold little look and refused to open the door. The old man, with the littlest wink, put the littlest coin in the keeper’s little hand. The gatekeeper, his little eyes twinkling the littlest twinkle, and his little mouth smiling the littlest smile, pulled a little key from his little pocket.
A little turn of the little key, a little push, a little squeak, and the little old man walked through the gate. He walked, with little steps, and brave, right up to the big king, looked up and said, “Your Majesty, I have a little message for you. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll go away and leave our little town alone!”
The big king listened, a little amused, to this strange little man’s strange little speech. He smirked ever so slightly, sneered ever so bigly, threw back his big head and burst into a mighty laugh. His big voice echoed for miles around.
He laughed and he laughed as if he’d never stop laughing.
He laughed so hard his big belly began to shake.
His big belly shook so hard he hardly stayed on his big horse.
And every so often, pausing to catch a big breath, he’d look again at the odd little man, and start laughing some more.
He laughed till big tears streamed down his big face. His big laughter did like big laughter does, spreading to all those around, till the whole big army laughed, shaking and quaking the ground.
Back in town, the little people saw the big machines towering over their little walls, they heard the big army’s uproarious roar, they felt the ground tremble, they shook to the core. They went running, not a little afraid, into their little houses to hide in the littlest places they could find. The little soldiers, of little courage, left their little posts, and went hiding with the rest.
When the laughter had finally calmed down, the little old man made a little motion to the big king. The big king leaned over as far as he dared, the little man stood as tall as his little toes would allow. Putting his hands to his mouth, he whispered a little something in king’s big ear.
The townsfolk held their little breath and waited a little while, then just to be sure, a little while more. A little boy, either a little brave or a little naughty (or maybe a little of both!), escaped from his place under his little bed and went running out into the deserted streets. All was quiet now, not a sound to be heard. He ran through the little town gate and took a little peek outside.
“They’re gone!” he shouted, “Hooray!” in his biggest little voice. Could it be true? Little did the townsfolk believe it could. Finally a little trumpeter put his little trumpet to his little lips, and gave it the biggest blast he could, which wasn’t very big. But it was big enough, and happy, and soon the little people began to come out of their little hiding places.
“What happened, how can this be?” They began to wonder aloud. But they didn’t wonder long, for all at once they began to remember all the things they’d left undone.
A little lady with a crooked little back and a twisted little cane said, “Oh goodness, I’ve left a little ham in my oven, I’m afraid it’s a little burnt!” A little farmer with a little straw hat said, “My little cows need a little milking, and I’m afraid I’m a little late!” The blacksmith ran off to tend the little fire in his little forge, the cobbler ran off to finish a little pair of shoes, and the butcher went to finish up a little something too.
In the littlest time, the little people went back to their little quiet lives. The little soldiers picked up their little swords and returned to their little posts on the little wall. The little king returned to his little throne (and finished his little peach pie!). The little old man went back to his little house, at least that’s what they say. No one ever saw him again.
But then, no one really tried.
What did he tell the big king? Where did the big army go, and why?
Little do the little people know, and little do they care. In a little while, they completely forgot the little old man in the little old coat with his little head of little hair. He probably still lives at the end of some little street in some little house, but no one knows where.
If you ever happen to visit a little town with a little castle on a little hill with a little flag flying overhead, ask about the day the big bad king and his big bad men came to knock their little walls down. Ask about a poor little wise old man, and how he saved the town. People will stare, call you a little crazy, and say, “Bless your little soul! Who ever heard of such a thing? Little happens in this little town, little chance it will!”
I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.
note: The story line is Solomon’s. His point I have yet to comprehend. But he says it’s “great,” so I assume the fault lies with me, not him.
When putting this little retelling together at the dining room table, my kids seemed to enjoy it, or at least that’s how I interpret their annoyance with me that I didn’t have the ending done when I tried it out on them. When I incorporated it into a sermon, the dear folks at Lewis Lake seemed to get a kick out of it, although I’m quite confident that’s mostly because, unlike Solomon’s great story, my sermon was most definitely not great. In any case, it’s something fun and unserious for a change.
If you enjoy it, join me in beseeching my gifted and talented wife Michele to draw some pictures for it, because the top picture is about the only and best thing I can draw.
ps. I beseech you to use “beseech” more. It can’t hurt, and in this nuthouse of a world, who knows, maybe it’ll help.