Study 1 THE WORKER’S PRIVILEGE
THE KING’S WORKERS
by Francis Dixon
Key-verse: “They were the potters who lived at Netaim and Gederah; they stayed there and worked for the king.” (1 Chronicles 4:23)
The key verse of this study gives us the theme for the other twelve in this series. We shall consider the importance for a Christian to live in fellowship with the Lord and to be engaged in active service for Him. Both these aspects of truth are emphasised in our verse; and in this study we are to think in particular of the privilege that we enjoy as Christians: not only do we live with the King but we are to be engaged in the King’s business. It’s important to lift the words of our verse out of their historical setting and translate them into our own experience, and by way of introduction notice the following:-
- (1) As Christians and Christian workers we serve a glorious King. He is greater than any earthly king (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14). He was born king (Matthew 2:2); He declared Himself to be a king (John 18:37), and when He died the inscription over the cross also testified to his kingship (John 19:19). What an honour it is to be in the King’s service!
- (2) As servants of the King we live with Him and He lives with us. The New Testament teaching is found in our Lord’s word ‘remain’ in John 15:4 (KJV), and an Old Testament illustration is found in Psalm 91:1 – ‘dwell’.
- (3) The work we are doing is the King’s work, not ours. This is emphasised in our key verse. We are engaged in the King’s business (1 Samuel 21:8), and Christian service is the Lord working through Christians who are His servants. To remember this will save us from pride, for any success which results from our work is due to what God has done; and, it will save us from a feeling of helplessness and inadequacy (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).
Notice in our key verse two central thoughts.
1. ALL WHO LIVE WITH THE KING MUST WORK FOR HIM
Every Christian has been saved to serve. We read here that the setting is the king’s palace with servants living either in the palace or in the palace grounds.
- (1) Why did these servants live with or near to the king? Was it so that they could rest and enjoy all the benefits of the royal household? No! They were there as workers. Why has the Lord saved us? Certainly that we might enjoy all the immense benefits of His saving grace, but more than that: we have been saved so that we might serve the Lord, not only now (Ephesians 2:10), but throughout eternity (Revelation 22:3). Our King needs workers, not shirkers. There is no room for idlers in His kingdom (Matthew 20:6). Are we engaged actively, conscientiously, in the King’s business?
- (2) There are a variety of ways of serving the king. Notice the words “they stayed there and worked for the king”. Who does this word ‘they’ refer to? It is particularly to “the potters”; there would be all kinds of workers in the king’s employment – servants, watchmen, courtiers, musicians, but also these men who were engaged in humble but very necessary tasks. This is true in the royal service of the Lord: some are preachers, some teachers, some musicians, and so on; but each one is necessary if the whole of the King’s work is to be accomplished satisfactorily (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
- (3) Just where we are is the place of service. Notice the little word ‘there’ in our verse! They served him just where they were. We are often tempted to think we could work better elsewhere. If we are in business we feel we could serve the Lord more effectively by being freed from our secular job; if we are in the pottery, the garden, the office or the shop, we think we could be better Christians if we were somewhere else. But the great lesson to learn is that every Christian is to be a missionary, and just where the Lord has placed us is where He wants us to serve Him.
2. ALL WHO WORK FOR THE KING MUST LIVE WITH HIM
The question we need to ask is: Why must we live with the King?
- (1) In order to become like Him. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we learn that by being occupied with the King and by living near to Him we become like Him – not by any self-effort but by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:13).
- (2) To be trained in His ways. We read in Mark 3:14 that when the Lord chose His disciples “He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach…” His purpose was to send them out, but first they must be with Him so that they might learn from Him. Communion must come before service (Acts 6:4).
- (3) To receive our instructions. For a good illustration of this, look up Jeremiah 38:1-13, and picture Ebed-Melech going into the presence of the king to receive his instructions, and then going out to do the rescue work.
- (4) He wants our fellowship. Jesus said in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants…Instead, I have called you friends”. The potters and the gardeners would always be servants of the king, and no more; but we are more! We are friends of the King, and if He calls us His friends it means that He wants our friendship and fellowship. This kind of intimate fellowship has to be cultivated – this is why we must “live” with the King.
- (5) Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:4-5). Surely this emphasises the absolute necessity of living with the King, if fruit is to result from our fellowship and service. In Mark 16:19-20 we have a wonderful picture: Jesus, our King, is in heaven, but He is doing his work through His servants. How? By the Holy Spirit.
We have in our key verse a brief description of ordinary people, doing humble tasks in the service of the King – look up 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.