King Solomon’s Ring
By Ken Godfrey
I came across a popular Jewish wisdom folktale that spoke to me.
King Solomon’s Captain of the Guard was the trusted Benaiah, son of Jehoiada. One-day King Solomon heard Benaiah bragging the he would do whatever the King asked him. Afraid that Benaiah was becoming too proud King Solomon decided that he would humble him.
Summoning him into his palace, King Solomon said, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring I want you to find and bring to me. I desire to wear the ring at Sukkot, which will give you six months to find it. The ring has magic powers. If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.”
“My King,” responded Benaiah, “I will find this ring and bring it to you.”
As Benaiah left on his quest, King Solomon had a twinkle in his eye for he knew that no such ring existed.
Benaiah immediately went to the market places of Jerusalem. He asked jewelers, gold smiths and silver smiths about a ring that when a happy man looked at it they would become sad, and when a sad man looked at it he would become happy. No one had heard of such a ring. His search led him outside Jerusalem into the surrounding towns and villages, but no one had ever heard of such a ring.
Defeated, Benaiah returned to Jerusalem on the eve of Sukkot. He found himself in the poorest quarters of Jerusalem and noticed an old merchant setting up his jewelry on a shabby carpet.
Benaiah ventured and asked one more time. “Sir, have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that when a happy man looks at it he becomes sad, and when a sad person looks at it he becomes happy?”
The elderly merchant stared at Benaiah for a moment. Then a smile broke out on the old man’s lips saying, “I can make such a ring.”
Benaiah could not believe his ears. He exclaimed, “Please, show me.”
The old man picked up a plain gold ring from the carpet and engraved something on it. When Benaiah read the words, he cried, “Thank you. Thank you.”
Benaiah with joy carried the ring to the holiday celebration of Sukkot. As he entered the palace, King Solomon saw him and asked, “Benaiah, so good you are back. Have you found the the magic ring I requested?”
All the ministers laughed, and Solomon had a smile on his face.
To everyone’s surprise Benaiah held up the ring and exclaimed, “I have your majesty!”
A hush the fell over the festivities as Benaiah handed King Solomon the ring.
The smile vanished from King Solomon’s face as he began to read the engraved Hebrew words, “Gimel, zayin, yud,” which began the words “Gam zeh ya’avor” meaning in English, “This too shall pass.” At that moment Solomon realized the words engraved on the ring would indeed make a happy man sad and a sad man happy.
That phrase, “This too shall pass” does not appear in the Bible but a similar phrase “It came to pass” occurs some 396 times in the King James Version. And if you count the variations of “And it came to pass.” And it shall come to pass.” it will number some 1070 times is the King James Version.
Most of us consider the phrase as meaning: “And then this happened.” But it has a deeper meaning that has made it one of my favorite scriptures. When I see the words, “It came to pass,” they remind me that life’s scenarios do not come to stay, they are always in transition.
Those days when everything is going my way, and I am upbeat, happy, I rejoice in the moment. Those days when I feel down and troubles surround me, I can rejoice knowing, “It will come to pass.” In the “rainy days” of life just saying the words, “It came to pass” bring me hope, faith and peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3 written by King Solomon says it beautifully. Notice especially the last verses.
1To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…
9What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11He hath made everything beautiful in his time.
The musical group The Byrds made this scripture into a hit song in the 60’s ,”To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn.” You can sing along at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4, Music for the Soul.
I hope you address life today with Gods words, “It came to pass,” and let him make everything beautiful in his time.