The main characters in the Bible, such as Paul, David, Goliath, Moses, and Abraham, are well-known. That’s because we’ve heard so many sermons about them! Of course, their lives are important, but for a while now I’ve been noticing the bit players in God’s drama; the obscure people. So I’ve been making a list and it’s growing longer all the time! I’ve learnt some interesting truths in their stories too. It’s amazing how worthy these people were, so let’s look at one of them.
Farmer Kish said to his son, Saul, ‘some of our donkeys have gone missing. I want you to take a servant and go looking for them’.
The pair set off and wandered around the countryside for several days, covering a large area, but they found no sign of the missing animals. In the end, Saul wanted to give up and go home. He knew his father would be more worried about them than the donkeys.
But the servant had a better idea. ‘Not so fast’, he said. ‘There’s a prophet around these parts. Let’s go and ask him where they are’.
‘But we can’t give him any payment for his services’, Saul replied, ‘even the bread we brought is all gone now’.
This is when we hear some great words from the servant: ‘I happen to have a quarter shekel. We could offer that to him’.
While it was in his pocket, that money was his. Saul didn’t know it was there, but the servant did. Was he a rich man? Perhaps not, seeing he was a servant. Was it part of the wage that Kish had given him that week? What other way would he have spent it? Was it worth much? That’s hard to tell. It may have taken courage for him to hand it over. Would he be repaid? And another thing, he didn’t realise at the time that he was offering money to the future king of Israel!
Fortunately, Saul took up the suggestion of his servant. It’s always good to ask God about large and small problems! And he also accepted the gift offered by that man of great ideas and resources!
As I read this story again, I thought back on my life and wondered when (not if!) I’d ever been in such a situation as that un-named man. Had I risen to the occasion like him, or had I ‘kept my money in my pocket’, thinking it wouldn’t be good enough?
Unbeknown to that humble man, he was actually grasping the opportunity to be on the spot for an historic occasion. In fact, he was influential in it.
Only the day before, God had given the prophet Samuel advance knowledge about Saul’s arrival, so he was expecting him. (It was Samuel to whom the servant had been referring.) When the two men arrived, Samuel didn’t mistake the servant for God’s chosen King! He also knew why they were there, and told them that the donkeys had been found. That got their attention!
Isn’t it wonderful how God always has the right person in the right place? Maybe I think my contribution is too insignificant, but I’m asking myself this question: ‘Am I ready to be that person?’ Like Kish’s servant, when we think we’re only looking for donkeys, we might end up being present at some pretty amazing God-at-work events!
This story is in the Bible in 1 Samuel 9:1 through to 10:16. Check it out for yourself. Perhaps we can all learn something new about ourselves in this story, especially as we watch the servant.