Edward Waters         Bard of the Grey Wind

The Pilgrim and the Liar

A Narrative Song by Edward Waters
from Luke 4.1-13 and Matthew 4.1-11
[Grateful acknowledgement to John Milton's Paradise Regained]
(Copyright © July 1991)

 

Prologue:
Into the courts of Perdition a messenger was shown
From the colonies, an audience to seek;
And, bowed with dread, this trembling courier approached the throne
As the obscenity seated there bid him speak.

'Lord, we know how you, in ages past, made slaves of Adam's line;[1]
By your skill you earned the name, "Father of Lies".[2]
But now there's come a prophet -- we've never seen his kind,
And we fear he means to steal away your prize.'

So, as his messenger was tortured, Satan readied to depart.
But he made no haste; he'd won this game before.
As his pawn had said, he'd long ago soiled every human heart,
And he saw no need to fear one upstart more.
   
Round 1:
From the Jordan to the wilderness there came a shining dove,
And a lonely pilgrim followed where it flew.
For forty days he fasted, seeking counsel from above,
As a gnawing hunger within him grew.

When his body was its weakest, then he heard a soothing voice:
'Surely, no true child of God should suffer so!
Command these stones be turned to bread; it only 'waits your choice.
If God is truly your Provider,[3] then you'll know.'

But the man had known that voice before the stars had known their fires.
He answered him who hid behind its fair facade:
'That which satisfies the flesh is least of all that life requires.
Man shall live by every word that comes from God.'[4]
   
Round 2:
When he saw he was discovered, Satan chose a different line,
And he took the pilgrim high up on a hill.
There he showed him in a moment all the kingdoms of mankind.
'These are mine', he said, 'to give to whom I will.[5]

'You were clearly meant for greatness, from the things they say of you,
Yet your whole life you have lived in poverty!
Now look at what I offer; let me show what I can do
If you'll only bow down now and worship me.'

But even as he spoke the liar fell back, for he was hit
By such a holy wrath as he had never known!
He heard, 'Satan, get you gone!  For you know well that it is written,
"You shall worship God and serve Him alone."'[6]

   
Round 3:
'Who is this?' the devil thought.  'Who speaks to me this way?'
But he steeled himself to play his final card.
He said, 'Well, you know the Scriptures.  And yet, do they not say,
"He has given you His angels as a guard"?[7]

'Now, if your heart is true, then you should let your faith be shown:
Leap from the temple heights and prove His word!
For He has promised, "They will bear you, lest your foot strike a stone."'[8]
But the man just answered, 'Do not test your Lord.'[9]

Something in the pilgrim's voice chilled Satan to the core,
And he peered beyond the mortal flesh disguise --
Only then did he comprehend Whom he stood before,
And he cowered as the Godhead met his eyes![10]

The Dawn of Day had come to dispel the dark of night;
And the liar fled the presence of the Lord!
He could not endure the glory of that great, all-knowing Light
Lest he be revealed for just one upstart more.
   
Epilogue:  In the courts of Perdition Satan once more took his throne.
Long he sat in silence thinking o'er the day.
And as he pondered the meaning of the things he had been shown,
He seemed to feel his realm begin to slip away.

The Dawn of Day has come to dispel the dark of night.
Behold, Almighty God in human form!
Having once appeared in meekness He will soon return in might,[11]
And Hell itself shall not endure the coming storm.[12]

 
 
[1] Romans 5.12-14 [5] I John 5.15   [9] Deuteronomy 6.16
[2] John 8.44 [6] Deuteronomy 6.13 [10] Colossians 2.9
[3] Genesis 22.14 [7] Psalm 91.11 [11] Daniel 7.13-14 
[4] Deuteronomy 8.3 [8] Psalm 91.12 [12] Revelation 20.13-14
 

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