The Not-So-Wise Man
Pondering how it was that the magi in Matthew 2 knew that the star in the east was the herald of the birth of the Savior…and how this pagan set of astrologers became worshippers of the Lord.
My name is Shar-Ezer the great.
I made my fame by staying late
Out on bald Babylonian peaks
Where all is black and star-light leaks
Through tiny pinholes in the sky
And makes men ask the question “Why?”
Night by night I’d march through town
All regal in my magi’s gown
With ox-cart full of shiny tools
That proved me smart and others fools.
I thought that science made men wise
And opened up the blind man’s eyes.
And thus I thought with mounds of books,
With telescope and nightly looks
At heav’nly sights most eyes can’t see
That I should be impressed with me.
So I would stay out late at night,
‘Scope fixed on planets in their flight,
Observing comets, moons, and stars
Like fireflies trapped in ancient jars—
“My jars.” I thought I’d roped them all
And hung the dippers great and small.
I fancied that the heav’nly sea
Was poured out by the likes of me.
But then, one night, all science failed.
The stars of Betelgeuse all paled
And from a land who knows how far
Arose a new, uncharted star!
And, breaking all the rules I knew,
I watched it dance across the hue
Of midnight blues and sunrise pink.
It seemed to call my name and wink
And bid me gaze, bow down, and come
My heart banged like a drum.
What could this be? My mind was vexed.
Had I missed something in the text?
I hurried home and scanned the pages
Of all the wisdom of the sages.
But nothing quenched my newfound thirst.
I think this was the very first
Time I realized that I was small.
And that I did not know it all.
This ‘wise man’ had to swallow pride
And load his donkeys for a ride
To that old shack on Prophet’s Hill
To seek one who was wiser still.
Old Kaphtor’s face was thin and gaunt
With leather skin and eyes that haunt
Young fools like me, so tall and proud.
“Behold, He’s coming with the clouds”
“Who’s coming?” I replied.
“The One whose star has made you ride
These thirty miles out to my place.
You’ve seen the star. It’s in your face.
And you must ride through deserts wild
To gaze upon that lovely Child.”
Kaphtor was of a dying breed—
The old magi who trace their seed
To prince Daniel the ancient Jew
Whose words, they say, always came true.
His power to interpret dreams
Made him a fav’rite of the kings
And made him all the wise men’s prince.
And so there has been ever since
A school of men who read his words
And trust his God like helpless birds.
A magi class who serve the LORD
And work for no earthly reward,
But share His truth with all who seek…
Whose hearts are teachable and meek.
“What child?” I said. “What do you mean?
Can you explain this star I’ve seen?”
His glance forced me to hang my head.
“Swallowed your pride?” at length he said.
“And now you’re fin’lly asking why?
Young magi, look up at the sky.
A thousand stars that you can name;
That let you play this wise man game,
Parade through town and make your boast
That you’re the man who’s charmed the host
And then he smiled at me.
“A million more you’ll never see,
And moons a thousand lives away.
So gather up your toys and play
And wonder at the starry night.
But know this—It was not your might
That hung Orion in its place
Or lit the moon with manly face.
You did not give the stars their names.
Nor do they shine to speak your fame.”
I wept. My tears he humbly dried—
And with them wiped away my pride.
“I’m glad you came to call,” he said.
“We’ve quite a journey just ahead.
You’re just the one to go with me.
Ready, at last, to bow the knee!
The old man Daniel had it right.
He told us that one moonlit night
We’d see the “star of Jacob” rise
And that the wisdom of the wise
Could not explain the gracious hand
Of God who would become a man.”
“The message of the star in heav’n?
‘For unto us a son is giv’n!’
He’s come! I’ve waited all these years!
He’s come to wipe away our tears.
He’s come and washed away your pride.
He’s come to gather up His bride.
He’s come to set the captives free.
He’s come to see us bow the knee!”
“Now what?” I asked. His eyes grew bright,
And glassy looked into the night.
Then trembling lips began to sing:
“We go to find our newborn King!”