Dale Spencer - Fourth Speaker at the Funeral Service for Gilbert Ricter - Lakota, ND - June 4, 2005, 10:30 a.m.

Since Gilbert’s passing, my thoughts turned to the record that we have of Jonathan and David. While we aren’t here to glorify Gilbert, this is his memorial. We are all going to miss Gilbert. We will not forget him. He was my best friend, the best friend that I ever had.

The relationship between Jonathan and David was very special. David was a great man in the sight of God. Jonathan was a little man like many of us. Gilbert was a David to many of us. We appreciate him; we remember him and the influence he brought amongst us. There are four verses concerning Jonathan and David’s relationship and the love they had one for another. In 1 Samuel 18:1, “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” There was a love between them, and I feel that has been my experience with Gilbert.

Gilbert had a wonderful relationship with his family, and he had a wonderful relationship with many of us in this work. The thing that I remember most was his relationship with the Lord. Gilbert and I went in the work in the late 1940s. I didn’t know Gilbert and he didn’t know me. We worked as neighbors. I knew Gilbert after he came to New Mexico. He was in the northern part of New Mexico and I was in the southern part of Colorado. We often met. He would come to Trinidad (CO) over on our side and we would go down to Raton (NM) over on his side. He would come and help us with our babes. We loved each other’s company and we continued to have fellowship.

It wasn’t long before I was moved to Texas in the panhandle area and Gilbert was just across the line, and we would meet together again, sometimes in Amarillo (TX) and sometimes in Tucumcari (NM), and have sweet fellowship. Our souls were knit together in the Lord and it was the Lord’s counsel that made our relationship so sweet, and we appreciate that.

1 Samuel 19:1, “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.” King Saul said to his servants, his army, and to his son, Jonathan, that we must kill David. Saul knew that David was the anointed king of Israel and that his son Jonathan would be left out. Jonathan knew that it was thus, but his soul was knit to David’s. His fathers’ attitude had no effect on his relationship with David. Jonathan and David went on together, they loved one another, and Jonathan did all that he could to promote David. Jonathan asked his father, “Why do you want to kill David? He has always been a faithful servant to the Lord and to the king.”

1 Samuel 23:16, “And Jonathan, Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” This mysterious fellowship is a question to many. We doubled the population of this town today. The locals will say, “Who was this man? We’ve never heard of him.” It’s a great mystery to them. They’ll not understand, but we know who this man was. It was like Jonathan going out into the woods to find David. Saul couldn’t find him, but Jonathan knew. Jonathan went to David and strengthened his hand in the Lord. I can’t tell you how many times Gilbert has come and strengthened my hands.

It was 10 years ago now that the phone rang and a voice said, “This is Gilbert from North Dakota. Will you be willing to come to North Dakota and help us?” I was very happy in Iowa, and had only been there 4 years. I wasn’t anxious to leave Iowa and North Dakota was a place………just about at the end of the world. I said, “If you brothers will arrange for me to come to North Dakota, I’d be happy to come.” Gilbert said, “We want you.” These have been good years and our souls have been knit together.

2 Samuel 1:25-26, when David heard of Jonathan’s death, he said, “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” The strongest love in this world is a love between a husband and wife. That is only human and for this world. There is a greater love, and that is love between brethren whose souls are knit together. When I heard that Gilbert was gone, I said to one of the younger brothers, “I just don’t see how we can face the future. I don’t see how we can go on, I don’t.” But that young brother was a great comfort to me. He said, “This is the Lord’s work and this is the Lord’s kingdom. He’ll raise up an overseer, and we can go on.” That comforted me. I thought we had come to the end. I didn’t see how we could go on, but the Lord is on the throne, He has always been faithful to His children and His kingdom.

We know that God will raise up laborers to go forth and sow the gospel seed. A mighty man has fallen amongst us. Though we miss him, we’re going on. May our souls be knit together in the Lord, like David and Jonathan.