How the Lion Became King of the Beasts: a parable

(Blogger’s note: a few years ago, before my daughter started reading chapter books by herself at night, I used to tell her bedtime stories.  Sometimes, I’d just read one, but sometimes I’d make them up.  For a while, Charlotte got to travel into space and help colonize a new planet, live on an 18th-century Irish farm, and delve into the social politics of the Hundred Acre Wood.

One night, I started telling  her a story … and it kind of took on a life of its own.  After she went to bed, I realized the story was way too good to have been my idea.  I went and typed it up as best as I could remember.  What follows is that story — enjoy!)

Long, long ago, when the earth was new and before creation had fallen, when Man had not yet sinned and still walked with God, the animals came together for a meeting.

“Man speaks with God in the cool of the evenings,” they said to one another.  “He tells God everything he wishes and hears everything God has to say.  But who speaks for the animals before God?  And who among us knows what God wants, so we can know as well?”

This was a concern for the animals, and they all agreed that they should choose one of their own to be king over them, to speak to God on their behalf, and to speak God’s will to them.

There was much discussion among the animals as to who should be chosen.  Finally they decided that Giraffe should be king, for he was tall and majestic.  “He is closer to heaven than any of us!” they said.  And so they asked Giraffe to be their king, and he agreed.

Everything was fine for a while.  But then the animals saw that there were some problems with Giraffe being king.  For Giraffe had a very soft voice, and came before God quietly.  When he came to tell the other animals what God had said, he still spoke softly.

“He isn’t bold or commanding,” the other animals said.  And they noticed that Giraffe’s height wasn’t really much of a help.

The other animals came to Giraffe and told him these things.  And Giraffe agreed that, yes, his voice was very soft, and not bold or forceful at all, and that his great height didn’t really make him any closer to God.

So all agreed that they should look for someone else to be king over them, to speak to God on their behalf, and to speak God’s will to them.  And they thanked Giraffe for his service.

Again, there was much discussion among the animals as to who should be chosen.  This time they didn’t look for height or majesty.  Finally they decided that Ant should be king.  He was not tall or majestic, but he was very humble.  “And look how hard he works!” they said.  And so they asked Ant to be their king, and he agreed.

Everything was fine for a while.  But then the animals saw that there were some problems with Ant being king.  For Ant had an even softer voice than Giraffe, and came before God and the animals even more quietly.  Also, he always seemed to be busy, and could be hard to find when the other animals wanted to speak to him.

“He isn’t very bold either,” the other animals said.  “And he’s hard to keep up with.”  And they noticed that Ant’s lack of height wasn’t any more of a help than Giraffe’s great height was.

The other animals came to Ant and told him these things.  And Ant agreed that, yes, his voice was even quieter than Giraffe’s, and that he wasn’t really any good at going at a slower pace.

So all agreed that they should look for someone else to be king over them, to speak to God on their behalf, and to speak God’s will to them.  And they thanked Ant for his service.

Again, there was much discussion among the animals as to who should be chosen.  This time they didn’t look for height or majesty, or humility.  Finally they decided that Monkey would be a good king.  He was not too tall or too short, and most of all he was not too quiet.  “He is a very good talker!” they said.  And so they asked Monkey to be their king, and he agreed.

Everything was fine for a while.  But then the animals saw that Monkey had some problems as a king also.  For Monkey was even busier and harder to keep up with than Ant was – always swinging through the trees.  Also, while he was a good talker, he was not much of a listener.  Often the other animals would ask him what God had said, and he didn’t know, because he had been talking the whole time.

“We need to know God’s will,” the other animals said.  And they noticed that it was hard for them to talk to Monkey also, because he would not stop talking.

The other animals came to Monkey and told him these things.  And Monkey agreed that, yes, he did tend to talk a lot, and not listen very well, and that he was no better at going slow than Ant had been.

So all agreed that once again, they should look for someone else to be king over them, to speak to God on their behalf, and to speak God’s will to them.  And they thanked Monkey for his service.

This time, the discussion among the animals was different.  “Man is very close to God, and speaks with Him in the cool of the evenings,” they said to one another.  “Maybe we should choose as king someone who is close to Man, so that they will be close to God also.”

And that made the choice an easy one, for no animal was closer to Man than Dog.  “He is Man’s best friend, after God!” they said.  And so they asked Dog to be their king, and he agreed.

This time, everything went wrong quickly.  For all Dog did was follow Man around, and do whatever Man wanted.  He never asked God anything, always following Man’s lead.  And all he could tell the other animals was what God’s will for Man was, since that was all that God told Man.

“We need someone who will speak on our behalf,” the other animals said.  “And we still need to know God’s will!”  They noticed that Dog’s closeness to Man was not a help for them at all.

The other animals came to Dog and told him these things.  And Dog agreed that he did tend to go along with whatever Man wanted, and that his doing so didn’t help the other animals.

So all agreed that once again, they should look for someone else to be king over them, to speak to God on their behalf, and to speak God’s will to them.  And they thanked Dog for his service.

But then the animals said, “We have tried four times to pick a king for ourselves, and four times we have made the wrong choice.  What will we do?”

Then Dog made a suggestion.  “Man is close to God, and speaks with Him in the cool of the evenings.  Maybe we can ask Man if he has any ideas for who we should choose as king.”

The animals thought about this, and decided that it was not a bad idea.  So they sent Dog, and Monkey, and Ant, and Giraffe, to talk to Man and see what he would say.

They came to Man when the sun was high, so they could be sure that he was not busy with God and would have time for them.  Man sat and listened as they told him how they had tried to choose a king to speak to God on their behalf, and to speak God’s will to them.

After they finished speaking, Man thought about what they had said.  Then he said, “Who does God want to be your king?”

Giraffe and Ant and Monkey and Dog were all stunned.  They had not thought about that before.  And they told Man this.

Man smiled and said, “Then maybe you should ask Him who He wants.”

They all agreed that this was a very good idea.  And so that evening, after God and Man were finished talking, Giraffe and Ant and Monkey and Dog came to God.  “God, we have been trying to choose one of our own to be king over all the animals, to speak to You on our behalf, and to speak Your will to us.  We had not thought of asking You who You would want to be our king.  We are sorry for not asking You first.”

God, who is always merciful to those who are sorry, forgave them for not asking Him first.  Then He said, “Do you want to know who I think should be king over you?”

“Yes!” said Giraffe and Ant and Monkey and Dog happily.

“Then go east of here to the grassy field,” God said.  “Wait there through the night.  In the morning, I will bring to you the animal that I want to be king over all of you, to speak to Me on your behalf, and to speak My will to you.”

So Giraffe and Ant and Monkey and Dog went east to the grassy field.  In the middle of it they settled down for the night, and slept peacefully.

When the sun rose in the morning, they woke up and looked around them eagerly.  But they did not see any animals but themselves.  So they kept waiting.

Finally, as the dew dried from the grass, Lion came up to them in the field.  He yawned a large lion yawn and said to Giraffe and Ant and Monkey and Dog, “Good morning.  What are you doing here?”

Giraffe and Ant and Monkey and Dog were surprised.  Lion was known as a lazy animal.  He slept most of the time.  But they remembered what God had said, and asked Lion if he would be king over all the animals, to speak to God on their behalf, and to speak God’s will to them.

Lion yawned again, and then he agreed.  He walked on through the field, and was gone.

After Lion left, Monkey spoke up.  “God, we do not understand.  Lion is a big lazy cat.  He sleeps most of the day and all of the night.  He does not even get his own food – he has Lioness do it for him!  Why do You want him as our king?”

There was a long silence.

Then God said, “Because he has faith.”

Giraffe looked at Monkey.  Monkey looked at Dog.  Dog looked at Ant.  Ant sighed and said, “We are sorry. God.  We still do not understand.”

God, who is always merciful to those who are sorry, said, “So many who try to be leaders work to do things in the right way, or say the right things, or make rules for how things should be done.  Lion does none of those things.  He can sleep in the day because he knows that I will take care of him.  He does not worry about anything because he trusts Me – and Lioness – to provide for him.  He is at peace, and so he knows he does not need to be anything but himself.”

“And Lion will speak to You on our behalf?” asked Giraffe.

“He will,” said God, “and he will speak boldly, for he trusts Me and is not afraid of Me.”

“And Lion will speak Your will to us?” asked Dog.

“He will,” said God, “for he trusts Me and what I have to say.”

Giraffe and Ant and Monkey and Dog found they had nothing left to say.  They thanked God and went back to the rest of the animals to tell them who God had chosen to be king over them.

Since that day, the earth has grown old and creation has fallen.  Man has sinned and no longer walks with God, except very rarely.  But God has not changed.  He is still always merciful to those who are sorry.

And Lion is still king over all the animals.  He still sleeps most of the day and all of the night.  He still does not do his own hunting.  But he trusts God, and is at peace with Him.  For he knows what most have forgotten: that faith in God, not height or humility, not talking or closeness to people, is what brings us close to God.

* * *

There are two morals to this story:

1. When men choose leaders, they never get it right and are never happy with whom they choose.  Only when God chooses will the right leader be chosen.

2. In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. – Isaiah 30:15

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3 Responses to How the Lion Became King of the Beasts: a parable

  1. lambskinny says:

    I rather like that second moral to the story – Isaiah 30:15 — Thanks so much.

  2. Joyce Solomon says:

    The Lion of the tribe of Judah… awesome story keep writing

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