Bring Me a Minstrel

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Ever since sin came in, the children of faith have found the present scene uncongenial to the spiritual life that divine grace has implanted in them. The moral atmosphere of this world is not conducive to heavenly-mindedness or communion with God. Hence the soul wishing to enjoy those unseen things must put itself outside of its existing environment.
In 2 Kings 3, the Spirit of God gives us an instructive lesson as to this. The king of Israel — Jehoram, son of the wicked Ahab — was setting forth on an expedition to subdue the king of Moab, who had revolted against him. He sought the cooperation of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, who, accompanied by his vassal, the king of Edom, consented to go with him to the war. Alas for Jehoshaphat! True servant of God though he was, it was the third time he had allowed himself to be ensnared into fellowship with the ungodly (1 Kings 22:10; 2 Chron. 20:35-37). As on a former occasion, he now again had qualms of conscience about what he had undertaken, and so he proposed to seek the mind of Jehovah at the hand of one of His prophets. Accordingly, the three kings waited on Elisha in Samaria. To the king of Israel the prophet said severely, “What have I to do with thee? Get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother,” adding, “As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.” The prophet of Jehovah thus drew a sharp distinction between Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, even though the latter was pursuing a path of disobedience at that time.
The Minstrel
“But now bring me a minstrel.” Why was this? “It came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of Jehovah came upon him.” The presence of Israel’s ungodly king was an offence to Elisha’s spirit. He felt restrained and hindered by reason of it. The holy atmosphere of communion with God which the prophet was accustomed to breathe was, as it were, polluted by the very fact that Jehoram was before him. The “still small voice,” which was the express symbol of Elisha’s ministry of grace, could not be heard amid the clamor of the wicked. Hence he felt it necessary to get in spirit outside of his surroundings before he could ascertain the mind of Jehovah, in order to give it forth to the only really godly man who would value it. When the minstrel played, then “the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, Thus saith the Lord.”
Balaam never knew such an experience as this. Though he gave expression to some of the most divine thoughts contained in Scripture, he did it merely as the instrument of a power superior to his own. His own affections and sympathies were by no means engaged in the service; indeed, he would most willingly have said the opposite of what he did say about the people of God, if God had permitted him to do so. Hence the presence of the ungodly was no affliction to him; he felt no need to separate himself from the influence of evil surroundings in order to get into the mind of God.
Communion With God
Our sympathies are with Elisha. We all prove experimentally day by day the many hindrances to communion with God. “The cares of this life” affect some, and “the deceitfulness of riches” affects others, even among the true saints of God. They clog our steps, dim our eyes, weigh down our spirits, and keep us on a low spiritual plane, if we allow them to do so. But faith does well to spread its wings and soar above all surrounding influences, that its delight in the things of the unseen Christ may be full and complete. Second Corinthians 12 presents us with a wonderful experience once granted to the honored apostle of the Gentiles. He does not name himself, but he tells us of “a man in Christ” who was caught up to the third heaven, there to listen to words which could not possibly be communicated to men in a merely earthly condition. So completely separated was he that he affirms twice that he could not tell whether he was in the body or out of the body at the time. While recognizing fully the miraculous element in the Apostle’s happy experience, is there not a voice to our souls in it? Is it not among the things that are written for our learning?
Heavenly Things
The life that is ours in Christ is an essentially heavenly thing. Full enjoyment of it cannot be until God’s full thought concerning us is realized and we find ourselves in the Father’s house. But eternal life is really ours now; many a divine statement assures us of it. Yet it is an exotic thing in this world, and we need to live in spirit outside of this world if we would enjoy in any measure the rich spiritual portion that God has given to us in His Son.
The Apostle’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:35 are penetrating: “That ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.” The language supposes the soul living by faith within the heavenly sanctuary, holding communion with the Lord without a burden and without a care. This is the Spirit’s desire for us all. He is the ever-present divine link between our souls here and Christ there, and it is His deepest delight to make good to faith now those things which will be entered upon fully only when the Lord returns. It is in occupation with the unseen that our souls gather strength for all the circumstances of the way; it is this alone which renders our hearts buoyant in the midst of all that comes upon us in an evil world and a failing Christian testimony.
W. W. Fereday, adapted