Aug. 8, 2016

Beware of the Pied Piper

The legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is a common one. There are some trains of thought that the story is actually based on real-life occurrences. Others believe the story is nothing more than a child’s tale warning children to stay true to their word and to beware of strangers.

The Pied Piper showed up in the town of Hamelin, Germany during a time of tremendous need. He was brightly dressed and wore a funny hat bringing a colorful change to Hamelin’s dreary condition. The town was experiencing a rat infestation. The rats were wreaking havoc on crops, the food supply, and their way of life.

The mayor of the town and all of the town’s people entered into a financial agreement with the Pied Piper despite not really knowing much about him. They trusted him and soon watched as he played his pipe leading all of the rats down to the Weser River where they followed blindly and drowned.

The mayor did not pay the Pied Piper what he was due. The story becomes fuzzy there. Some versions say the Pied Piper played a tune attractive only to children and that he led the children out of the town and into a mountain where they were never seen again. Other versions say the Pied Piper did exactly to the town’s children as he had done to the rats. He played his hypnotic song, dancing along, and led the poor, unsuspecting children to a watery death. Three children remained behind to tell the adults what happened. One was deaf and didn’t hear the music. One was blind and couldn’t see to follow. The final child was on crutches and couldn’t keep up with the other children.

I remember hearing this story as a child and thinking, “Those people were really dumb.” I did not understand how a crowd of misled, desperate people can sway their fellow citizens into making uninformed choices and a deal with the devil.  People like to hear someone can fix their problems ridding their lives of the “rats.” People have a tendency to blindly trust as opposed to doing their homework. We do so because the person is saying exactly what our ears want to hear in our time of despair and great need.

Guess where the adults of the town were when the Pied Piper returned for revenge leading the children away? At church. Interesting, isn’t it? They must have missed the Sunday when a sermon on honesty and wisdom was preached.

Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.”

*The book pictured here is available through Amazon.