The Empty Seat

King Saul, along with his sons and others, were having a great meal. However, Saul couldn’t enjoy it because of who wasn’t there. The one person who was missing was the voice that kept ringing in Saul’s ears – the voice of the empty seat.

1 Samuel 20:24-27 – “Then David hid in the field. And when the New Moon had come, the king sat down to eat the feast. Now the king sat on his seat, as at other times, on a seat by the wall. And Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. Nevertheless Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, Something has happened to him; he is unclean, surely he is unclean. And it happened the next day, the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, Why has the son of Jesse not come to eat, either yesterday or today?”

You are Noticed When You are Not Here

Saul noticed right off that David wasn’t there. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t ask his sons where David was. He just assumed where he might be, that the was good a reason for his absence. Nevertheless, it just wasn’t the same with David not being there.

You might say well it’s no big deal if I’m here or not. No body even notices. Nobody called to check on me. I apologize if that has been the case. We are trying to get better at that by sending out cards and follow up. You are noticed and you are missed when your seat is empty.

The mood at the table changed. Saul was focused on was not there. He couldn’t even enjoy the meal wondering where David was, wondering if he was okay, wondering if something was wrong.

Your absence affects the mood at church. Your presence makes a difference. You ever notice how the spirit of the church is with a large crowd, when the place is full. The service seems to be better. There seems to be more smiles. The atmosphere is different.

You Need to be Here for Yourself

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

The church needs you and you need the church. We build each other up. We strengthen each other. We need to be in church because we are “consider one another.” Others need you there. Your presence makes a difference. You bring strength and encouragement to other just by being present. You also need to be faithful to the house of God for yourself. You need it!

Losing your relationship with God doesn’t happen over night. It starts out slowly. You skip a Sunday to go on vacation. You sleep in the next Sunday. Pretty soon is doesn’t matter if you miss. You get out of the habit. Without the strength of your brothers and sisters you begin to struggle in this area and in that area.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).

The devil is like a lion. He gets you away from the pack, then he jumps on you. He goes after the weak. He’s less likely to attack a large group. If we’re out by ourselves, that’s when he attacks. There’s strength in numbers. We’re stronger together. You need the church!

The Cries of the Empty Chairs

Listen to the cries from the empty chairs. It’s your neighbor that is lost, your loved one, your co-worker that is struggling. They are crying out! They are hurting in need of a savior. They need you to go after them (Luke 15). Jesus described the scene in Luke 14:16-23.

“He said to him, A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, Come, for all things are now ready. But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused. Still another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind. And the servant said, Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room. Then the master said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:16-23).

They assembled together to eat. The invited ones, the regulars, were a no show. They were busy with other things. The empty seats were crying out to be filled. He instructs his servants to go and bring in those that hurting. After they brought them in there were still empty seats. He instructs them to go out compel them come from wherever they could anyone at all. Why, so his house or table would be full.

Church, listen to the cries from the seats. They are those that used to come, they are those that we know are hurting, they are those that we don’t even know. Our job is to fill the empty seats. What ever it takes, changes here and there, different ministries, etc. We have to compel them, make them want to come, so His house will be full.

Greg Harvey is the pastor of CornerStone Worship Center in Bedford, Indiana. Pastor Greg is an anointed preacher with a vision for missions, leadership development and church planting.