This exclamation, which came from the people when the young man Saul, newly anointed as King of Israel, was found amongst a company of prophets, revealed that he was not known as one who would normally have been in such company. He had revealed his lack of interest in spiritual things when his servant had suggested, while they were searching for his fathers asses, that they go and consult the man of God (1 Sam 9.5-7). His reply indicated that he was not aware that the servant spoke of Samuel, and when he eventually met the man who had brought revival to Israel (see 1 Sam 7), he did not recognise him (1 Sam 9.18-19). Clearly he, and possibly his close family, had had few dealings with those who "feared the Lord" and "spake often one to another" (Mal 3.16). His presence amongst the prophets was the cause of much amazement.
The writer often sees familiar faces at ministry meetings and conferences. Clearly, these saints benefit from being at the centre of the work of their assembly and attend other gatherings in the area to enjoy the preaching of the gospel, the teaching of the Word of God, and the fellowship of those who have like interests. They not only benefit themselves, they are an encouragement to others.
There is, however, another very significant issue - the consistent practice of making the saints and their gatherings a central part of life is of great benefit to families. Parents who wisely bring up their children to be part of the great "family" of those in assembly fellowship are aware of the importance of this in their development. It is a tragedy in a Christian home when the gatherings of the saints are a "semi detached" part of life - only something that is attended on Lords Day and (perhaps) reluctantly on one evening per week. But even when local assembly meetings are attended it is denying families much when parents know little of other saints in the area and even less about the activity of assemblies in their vicinity.
Parents who wish to pass on a rich heritage to their children must take note of these lessons. Take the children to the gatherings of the saints at as early an age as possible when their presence will not cause undue disruption (adults must make some allowance for young children). Put the assembly and the saints at the very core of your life. Bring the children to conferences and ministry meetings so that they make friends with other children who are present. There are many adults today who number among their close fellow workers those whom they first met when young, and played with, at conference intervals and around the supper table at the end of a day of gospel work or Bible teaching.
Some may object that it is "unfair" to expect children to sit through meetings and that, even if they do, they will retain in their minds nothing that has been taught. As far as the first is concerned this objection has been found by experience not to be valid. When deciding to take them to meetings parents will act with wisdom, knowing that all children are different and at various levels of maturity. Attending such gatherings when circumstances allow is, however, an important part of child development. If the parents are clearly reluctant to go, the children will sense this. In relation to the second, over time much is retained by young minds that can be used of God towards their salvation and spiritual growth.
The early years of life are vital. They must be happy years to be remembered with affection. Make them also years when fellowship, gospel preaching, Bible teaching, and assembly work are later called to mind in a pleasing away. Live to integrate the family into assembly life. They will gain a wide circle of friends. This is not a guarantee that they will be saved and go on for God, but it is fulfilling one of the great responsibilities of Christian parenthood. What a loss when teenagers have only seen Christian things as that which others are engaged in, that doing the minimum in such matters has been the rule of the house, that the involvement of their parents in such activities would cause the question, asked with amazement, "Are they also here?". Give them the benefit of young years where the home and the family activities are where the Lord is enjoyed in fellowship with others.