Joel and Jeremy were the best of friends and the worst of enemies—typical brothers. Jeremy was seven years old and thought his 12 year-old big brother was really cool. And Joel liked Jeremy because he laughed at all of his jokes.
Today Joel had the boy from next door, Reuben, over for the afternoon. They had been playing games outside and Jeremy had been following them around. Joel and Reuben didn’t really mind. They even let Jeremy play with them. When they played soccer, Joel said Jeremy could be the ball. Everyone laughed and then they let him referee.
Now they were in Joel’s bedroom playing with his toys. Jeremy had crawled under Joel’s bed and was pretending he was spying on the bigger boys. Joel and Reuben ignored Jeremy, which was perfect because it made him think his spying was working.
Then Reuben saw Joel’s fish tank. “Wow!” Reuben said, “You have heaps of fish!”
“Yeah,” Joel replied. “They are fun to watch, especially at night when their light is on and the room is dark.”
Reuben went over to the tank and knelt down to watch the fish. He watched one fish after the other as it zipped around the tank or floated quietly in place.
“They are all so different,” Reuben said.
“I know,” Joel answered. “Each of them has it’s own name.”
“Really?” Reuben asked, “Do they come when you call them?”
The boys both laughed. They watched the fish in silence for a little while and then Reuben asked, “Hey, would I be able to have one fish?”
Joel thought about it for a moment and then smiled, “Sure! I’ll just go get a plastic bag and a net.”
“That’s awesome, Joel!” Reuben was very excited. “You are so generous.”
Reuben watched the fish zipping around; trying to choose which one he would ask for when Joel returned.
After what seemed like an eternity, Joel came back with a bag full of water and a net. “Here ya go,” Joel said offering the bag to Reuben. There was a rubber band tied tightly around the bag holding the water in. And there was something inside.
“Hey,” Reuben said. “There’s already a fish in the bag!”
“Yup, you can have that one,” Joel said happily.
“I didn’t know you had other fish tanks in your house,” Reuben said.
“Just one!” Joel said with a laugh.
Jeremy shot out from under the bed. He knew where that other fish tank was.
“That’s my fish!” Jeremy shouted as he leapt toward Reuben.
Reuben pulled the bag close to his chest. “Be careful!” Reuben shouted, “You’ll pop the bag.”
Joel wrapped his arms tightly around Jeremy from behind, putting one hand firmly over his mouth. “Quick, take the fish home,” Joel said. “I’ll come over to your house in a bit.”
Reuben looked from Joel to Jeremy and then back, “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Joel said as he forced Jeremy to nod his head.
Reuben shrugged his shoulders and left the room. Moments later the front door squeaked open and then closed. Reuben was gone. And so was Jeremy’s fish—his only fish.
Nathan’s story of the Pet Lamb
2 Samuel 12:1-13