And Jonathon caused David to swear again
because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
Then said Jonathon to David, tomorrow is the new moon and thou
shall be missed, because thy seat will be empty. (I
A beautiful friendship existed between
Jonathon and David. They are sometimes spoken of as the Damon
and Pythias of the Old Testament. When the time came that David
was forced to flee from Saul, and David and Jonathon were about
to be separated, there is a note of love and pathos in the words
of Jonathon, "Tomorrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be
missed, because thy seat will be empty." Yes, tomorrow would
be the day when the families offered their sacrifices and had
a feast together (Num. 10:10; Col 2:16), but Jonathon knew that
David would not be sitting at the king's table on the morrow.
There would be one vacant seat and Jonathon as a trusted friend
assures David that he will be missed.
EMPTY SEATS TODAY
Someone has said, "The empty
pew has an eloquent tongue. Though its message is unpleasant,
it is one that all may hear." The empty seat of David spoke
of his flight from the wrath of Saul and there was a legitimate
reason for his absence. What is the reason for the empty pews
of today? My brother, is there a valid reason for that vacant
pew in the assembly of the saints? Remember the Holy Spirit informs
us that, "Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples
came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them" (Acts
20:7), and then exhorts us not to forsake "the assembling
of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting
one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching"
(Heb. 10:25). There was a vacant pew at the church building last
Lord's Day, when God's children met for worship and Bible Study.
Was it yours? Those who forsake the assembly of the saints will
be missed, because their seats will be empty.
THE MESSAGE OF THE VACANT PEW
No preacher of the gospel can transmit
sacred truths to empty seats, but sometimes the empty pews can
speak to the preacher, and he understands the message too. Often
the preacher looks out over an auditorium where he preached the
word of God with fervor, in days that are past, and his eyes fill
with tears as he searches for the faces that are gone. Then an
empty pew seems to say, "Uncle Tom Green used to sit here
while he sang the joyful songs of Zion and with many a hearty
amen he gave his sanction to the truth of God. Remember how his
eyes used to light up with enthusiasm when he heard the old-time
gospel preached to dying men. Say preacher, don't you remember
how he loved to talk about the work of the church, and the words
of encouragement he spoke when you were tired and discouraged?
Well, Uncle Tom has been gone several years now but among the
children of God he is still missed as they look upon an empty
pew." Yes, the preacher remembers best of all as his eyes
search for the faces that are no more, and hears the message from
their empty pews. This is not the saddest message uttered by these
deserted seats though, because most of these saints have slipped
away to be with God.
Sometimes the empty pews say, "Those
who once sat here were conquered by the cares of the world and
the deceitfulness of riches. They have departed, having loved
this present evil world more than they ever loved God or the church."
The preacher listens with attentive ears, sees the tide of worldliness
sweep many away, and his heart is sad.
To the preacher, the empty
pew says, "Preacher, your sermons are dull and uninteresting,
and your most fervent efforts to preach the gospel to this congregation
are not appreciated."
To the visitor, it whispers,
"Many of the members of this congregation did not think enough
of this service to attend, why should you? Since most of the members
did not think enough of you to come and bid you welcome, why should
To the prospective member,
it says, "Why should you become a member of a congregation
of absentees who do not feel interested enough to attend their
own services and work at the job?"
Finally the vacant pew proclaims
to all the other members of the congregation, "Why don't
you go visiting next Sunday morning, or else sit by the radio
next Sunday evening and take it easy, because you have just as
much right to stay home or go visiting as all these other church
THE EFFECTS OF THE MESSAGE
There is one argument no preacher
can answer and that is an auditorium made waste and void with
empty seats! Any preacher could muster just as much fervor and
enthusiasm preaching to a "rick" of cord-wood as to
a row of empty benches. Someone has well said, "The empty
pew speaks again of the service. It kills inspiration and smothers
hope. It dulls the fine edge of zeal. The empty pew is a weight,
the occupied pew is a wing."
REASONS FOR ATTENDING CHURCH SERVICES