Summary: Given a man to keep, he had lost the man. And he had lost him because he was too busy to keep him. Evidently the servant considered that an excuse. Had he been idle, then indeed the loss of the man would have been an unpardonable offence.
Busy about the Wrong Thing
I Kings 20:40 And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone.
The text is part of a little parable, spoken by an unnamed prophet to King Ahab.
I Kings 20:39 (KJV) And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver.
I Kings 20:39 (Amp) And as the King passed by, the [prophet] cried out to him, Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a man turned aside and brought a man to me, and said, Keep this man. If for any reason he is missing, then your life will be required for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.
1 Kings 20:40 (KJV) 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.
I Kings 20:40 (Amp) But as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the King of Israel said to him. such is your own verdict; you yourself have decided it.
Given a man to keep, he had lost the man. And he had lost him because he was too busy to keep him. Evidently the servant considered that an excuse. Had he been idle, then indeed the loss of the man would have been an unpardonable offence. Justly enough, the King found that but an aggravation of the fault. If one to whom we had entrusted millions should lose them, would we not find it a poor excuse that he had been busy picking up the pennies which he had dropped?
Now let us leave King Ahab and the nameless prophet, and come down the centuries to ourselves for an application. It is an easy application to make, for we too have been given a man to keep and our most pressing danger is the we shall lose that man, just because we are too busy to keep him. The battle is the battle of life, the man is our self, and the peril of loss lurks in the engrossing, absorbing character of modern life. Never in all the history of the world was the battle of life so bitter, so merciless, so ruthless as now. It is not without an instinctive sense of fitness that the common speech of the day calls the chief business men "captains of industry." Business is organized on a vast scale; the unit counts for nothing -- the mass for everything. The hours of the day are not enough for toil, business burns up the nights as well. God’s rest day is ruthlessly
Busy about the Wrong Thing
appropriated; men wore out, burnt out rather, and left behind without thought or mercy.
And instinctively we feel that we must keep up with the rush or be trampled under foot. Lately a famous cartoonist drew a caricature (picture) of himself, in which unwillingly he characterized us all. He represented himself grimly walking on a treadmill. Behind him were sharp spikes which effectually forbade a pause. Before him -- as a wisp of straw is dangled before a horse to lure him to a ceaseless task -- hung a dollar mark, the goal of his weary tramp; a tramp that never ceased, a goal never reached. What an amiable satire on business life! With a slight change, it might be made to apply with equal point to modern social life. What is it but the ceaseless round of the treadmill? Before the man the elusive dollar, -- before his wife an equally elusive phantom, pleasure. And in this two-fold pursuit more men and women are lost than in crime or debauchery. Crime appeals to the social pervert, debauchery to the social degenerate; but on the treadmill called "society," more manhood and womanhood is lost than all the churches are saving.
The man given us to keep is the man whom each of us calls "myself." When the battle is over, when at last for each of us the tramp of the treadmill ceases, when we are lifted from the wheel and another takes our place -- to be in turn worn out and cast aside -- the one demand made upon each of us will be for the man who was given us to keep. Not -- "What money did you gather?" Not -- "what fame did you achieve?" not - "What space did you occupy in the social papers?" But, "What man are you?" And it never will do to reply: "Lord,