1Ki 20:40 And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.
This verse (1 Kings 20:40) has not particularly caught my attention until this morning. I heard Pastor W. L. Wade, of Danville, Virginia, give a marvelously insightful message or meditation upon this verse. Pastor Wade often packs more insight, instruction, admonition, and encouragement in less than fifteen minutes (the length of his radio program heard over the Internet) than most pastors can convey in an hour, in my judgment.
In context, King Ahab, king of Israel (otherwise sometimes spoken of in the Bible as Samaria because that was the capital city of the ten tribes that broke away from the other two tribes headquartered in Jerusalem) was supposed to devote to utter destruction (see 1 Kings 20:42) the king of the Syrians, King Benhadad, but Ahab mercifully let him go and made a covenant with him instead (see 1 Kings 20:34).
One of the prophets disguised himself as a wounded soldier, and when King Ahab passed by, called out to the king, and told the king that he (the wounded soldier) had been tasked with keeping a man prisoner under his guard. But instead, the supposed guard got busy with other matters, and the prisoner was gone. The king pronounced his judgment upon the supposed wounded soldier, in reality one of the prophets. This clever stratagem exacted from King Ahab his own pronouncement of judgment upon himself, much in the way Nathan the prophet elicited from David the king of Israel his own admission of guilt when Nathan said, “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).
The prophet’s words are most suggestive:
1 Kings 20:40 And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.
Pastor Wade titled his message, “Busyness and Lost Opportunities.”
How often we have the excuse, “thy servant was busy.” Did we take time to read and study God’s Word? Maybe not quite as we should. “Thy servant was busy.” Did we take time to learn God’s plan of salvation and enter into the eternal life Jesus promised can be our present possession (John 5:24)? Failure here on our part would surely lead to eternal misery beyond description. Did we serve God with whatever talent He has blessed us so we could be a blessing to others in the church? Or did we in effect respond, “Thy servant was busy”?
Just what is it we are all so busy with, any way? The prophet gave the general answer true of all of us who fit this description, “Thy servant was busy here and there.” Just what “here and there” might entail, you’ll have to look into your life and examine.
But I have found that even churches can be “busy here and there,” so busy they have no room for a newcomer. I’ve experienced that repeatedly, and it is a violation on a church’s part of Romans 15:7, about which I posted a very complete study readily located to the right under the category, “Verse-by-Verse Studies.”
There are many, and no doubt an increasing number, who find it is not possible to “fit in” to a local church, for the local church unwisely is not structured for fellowship, and just as unfortunately, not structured for the sharing of spiritual gifts in the manner reflected in the New Testament (1 Peter 4:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 14:29, 31).
I wrote a note of thanks this morning to Pastor Wade, stating in part:
I enjoyed your point about how God has given each of us spiritual giftedness in some direction, yet it is possible to become so involved in “other things” that we fail to exercise faithfulness in service where we are needed in a dependable manner.
Yet, this is a very major flaw in how many a local church is structured: there is no room in the church to accommodate anyone new to the fellowship who may in fact desire to serve, perhaps as a Sunday school teacher, or better a Bible study leader. All the offices are filled, and no further help is either wanted or needed. That is why I stay home. No sense going to any church around here, for there is no interest in real Bible study, and no one wants my input. In fact, were I to open my mouth about spiritual things, no doubt I would be ushered out faster than I ever came in, with a remark like “Go find a church that believes like you do,” or “Jerry, you talk too much about the Lord, and too much about the Bible.”
Churches around here are totally unlike the churches I experienced in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in Detroit, and then in Gainesville, Florida. The churches in Detroit were in need of more faithful workers, for much of the burden was falling upon too few dedicated people. Now, times have changed. With so many Bible versions in use, few people even bring a Bible to church. The Scripture text is displayed for them on screen at the front of the church. I find the KJV is not used much if at all in church, and even on line on the Internet, it seems little used. Modern versions have overtaken it. Now I enjoy modern English versions, but they are all under someone else’s copyright, and in any case are frequently updated–sometimes to match the current culture (gender correctness), so I can’t use them.
In any case, I am busy all day every day using my apparent spiritual gift in assembling even more cross references for Bible study! I am obeying the principle of not spending time doing what someone else can do more effectively, but rather doing a needful work which I can do that no one else will do, it would seem. You would think some gifted theologian or Bible expert would be doing what I am, instead of me, an unknown retired English teacher!
I had just recently completed work on 1 Kings chapter 20. Pastor Wade’s message made me go back and study more deeply a verse I had in essence overlooked, 1 Kings 20:40. The results of my study today of this passage, resulting in what I hope will be more helpful cross references to explain and reinforce the message of this passage in a practical way, are given immediately below. Enjoy!
By the way, I invite you to listen to Pastor Wade every Friday at 9:45 am and 9:45 pm Eastern Standard Time on the Internet at www.fbcradio.org, and every Sunday morning at 8:30 am at WBTM in Danville, Virginia (a Google search will get you to the radio station’s website where you can listen live).
For those who desire to DIG DEEPER into this subject:
(1) Consult the cross references given in Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible on page 350 for 1 Kings 20:40.
(2) Consult the cross references given in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on page 392 or in Logos 5 or 6 Bible software for 1 Kings 20:40.
(3) Consult the cross references given in the original Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on page 251 for 1 Kings 20:40.
(3) Most people today do not have access to those three resources, so I have posted cross references for this passage as I have developed them even more completely for your study as given below:
1 Kings 20:40. thy servant was busy. Most that hear the glad tidings of the Gospel are busy here and there, till the day of salvation is gone; and, not having wherewithal to ransom their souls, they must spend eternity in unavailing lamentations and despair. Nay, even true believers are often so taken up with trifles, as to let seasons of important usefulness glide away unimproved, to the loss both of themselves and of others (see Scott). Ps 90:12. Lk 9:59-62. +*Lk 10:39-42. Ac 13:13. 15:38. +*2 Cor 6:2. 2 Tim 4:10, 11. +*He 2:3. +*He 3:12, 13. +*1 J 2:15-17. here and there. “One of the gravest perils which besets the ministry is a restless scattering of energies over an amazing multiplicity of interests which leaves no margin of time and of strength for receptive and absorbing communion with God” (Andrew Bonar). Pr 1:29, 30. 6:18. 7:11, 12. %+*Lk 10:42. %1 Cor 2:2. %+*Ep 5:16. %Phil 3:13. %+*Col 4:5. 2 Th 3:11. 1 Tim 5:13. 2 Tim 3:7. %Titus 2:5. he was gone. Heb. he was not. Je 31:15. Lk 8:15. +*Lk 11:28. 1 Tim 6:20. 2 Tim 1:14. He 2:1. Re 1:3. So shall thy judgment be. **2 S 12:5-7. 24:17. Jb 9:20. 15:6. Pr 5:12, 13. Jon 1:12. Mt 7:1. **+Mt 21:41-43. 23:31. 25:24-27. 27:25. Lk 19:21, 22. Jn 8:9. 9:41. Ro 2:1. 1 J 3:20. Re 1:7.