Story Scripture: It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. – Ecclesiastes 5:5
Story Saying: Promises are only as strong as the person who gives them. – Stephen Richards
Behind the Story: In this story, the son of a poor man becomes a valiant warrior in the king’s army and then becomes a prince when he marries the king’s beautiful, but strange, daughter. After a while, the princess falls sick and dies. To keep a vow that he made to her, the prince is buried alive with her corpse. When two snakes enter the royal vault in which they are bolted, the prince is alarmed. After cutting one of the snakes in three pieces, the second snake revives it with three green leaves. The prince uses these same leaves to bring the princess back from the dead. Instead of being grateful for being restored to life, the princess no longer loves her husband and while on a voyage, she and her skipper lover murder him by throwing him into the sea. Thankfully, the prince’s faithful servant saw everything and used the three snake leaves to bring his master back. When the king found out the evil actions of his daughter, he had her and her lover placed in a ship pierced with holes and sent out to sea, where they soon sank amid the waves.
As you can see, the main lesson we can take from this story is to keep the promises we make, and if we feel like we won’t be able to keep a promise, it is best that we don’t make it at all. The princess refused to marry a husband unless he promised to let himself be buried alive with her if she died first. She also promised that if he died first, she would do the same and go down to the grave with him. The prince knew of her strange vow, but his love for her was so great that he consented. When she fell sick and died, he knew that it was impossible to avoid his fate. Even though he was horrified at having to lie down alive in the grave, he was determined to keep the promise which he had made.
The princess, however, lost all love for her husband. Instead of rejoicing and being thankful for his devotion and fidelity, she set her eyes on the skipper and had the wicked idea to murder the prince as he slept. But as always happens in life and in most good stories, her evil was duly punished.
A few other lessons can also be brought out. At the beginning of the story, when the enemy was wreaking havoc on the king’s army, many soldiers were losing heart and ready to flee, but the soon-to-be prince rallied them and said, “We will not let our father-land be ruined.” He pressed on and conquered the enemy. As followers of Jesus the Christ, we also serve in the King’s army. Our enemy, Satan, is always engaging us in battle and seeks to destroy us. We should not lose heart, however, because the victory has already been won through the work of Christ on the cross and His subsequent resurrection. If we press on, as the prince did, our King will give us great treasures and we will live in His kingdom forever.
After the victory had been won, the king asked the prince if he knew what he promised by agreeing to marry the princess. The prince said, “…my love is so great that I do not mind the danger.” God’s love for us was so great that He did not mind sending His only Son to be mocked, vilified, and put to death so that we could be reconciled to Him. Even at the height of danger, when Christ was sweating drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane, He did not escape from the cup of God’s wrath. He consumed it all on our behalf.
May we never be like the princess and lose love for the One who conquered death and brought us eternal life.