When God Says No | 2 Samuel 7
How many times a day do you see a sign that says, "No"? A sign that reads 35 mph says no. No, you cannot drive faster than 35 mph. We have "No Parking" signs, "No walking" signs and the list goes on.
Ready on the tongue of every parent is the bread and butter word, no, the mere word that stops children in their tracks. No, don't touch that hot stove. No, don't jump on the bed. No, don't put those marbles in your mouth.
Today we will look at a time when God stamped the box of David's dream with a bold black no. And we'll see how David handled it. We will see whether David ran from God in disillusionment or to Him in contentment and trust.
So far, David's life has been like a great symphony that flows from one passionate movement to another. But in II Samuel 7, it pauses to play a tranquil strain. Finally, the courageous warrior is allowed to rest. For the first time in the new kingdom, there was peace. The Philistines had finally been driven out of Israel's territory.
David nestled back in his beautiful cedar house and began to entertain a dream. He dreams of building a temple for the ark of God. David confides in his counselor, the prophet Nathan.
See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains. (II Samuel 7:2)
There was nothing wrong with David's dream. Building a temple for the ark of the covenant was David's way of doing something for the Lord God of hosts who had done so much for him. The God who had led him from the role of a shepherd to that of a king. God in his wisdom said, "No."
David must have been surprised by God's refusal of his dream. We can learn from David's reaction. How do you deal with the word, "No"? Do you give up on everything that God offers because he shuts a door? Let's glean from these verses some truths that will help us when God says no.
The first truth is this - When God says no, we may hear yes from others. People that we trust may give us the wrong advice.
David tells his closest advisor, Nathan, of his dream. David's eyes must have been beaming with anticipation. Nathan speaks too soon. He puts words in God's mouth. Nathan says:
Go, do all that is within your mind, for the Lord is with you. (II Samuel 7:3)
It is often during the quiet interludes of our life, the times when we slow down and reflect on our past, that we find a new direction, new hope, new dreams for the future. Yet, just because we have pulled back from the rat race doesn't mean that every dream is from God, not even admirable dreams, even though God's people may affirm their value. David may have gotten the go-ahead from Nathan, but the final word came from God. Only He knows His plan for our lives.
Friends, family, and the church are all good ways to help us to determine what God's will is for us. In fact, these are some of the primary ways of discerning His will. But in the final analysis, we are responsible for what we have heard and accountable to God for what we have done. The judgment of the church or friends or family will not matter in the end. It is God's thinking to which we will be held accountable.
Sometimes God says yes when our closest advisors say no. Sometimes we have to distinguish between the wisdom of man and the Wisdom of God. When it all comes down to a decision, YOU are the one responsible and accountable for your decisions and actions.
The second truth is this - When God says no it means redirection, not rejection. It means that God has a greater purpose for you to achieve.
God responded to David's dream with a gracious refusal and a prophetic word. In the night, God spoke to Nathan the prophet saying:
Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the Lord, You shall not build a house for me to dwell in." (I Chronicles 17:3-4)
God's refusal was not a rejection, but a redirection. God had a different dream. Instead of David building God a house, God promised David that he was going to build him a house, a dynasty that would last for years.
God didn't gift David as a builder but as a soldier and king. There was nothing wrong with David's dream. His motives were pure; his intentions, pleasing to God. But he wasn't the right man to carry out the plan. God wanted a man of peace to build his temple. He saw that the greatest thing David could do was to lead the people to resolve their problems as a new nation.
God can be trusted to lead our lives. The poet said it well.
Tis far, far better to let Him choose the way that we should take;
If only we leave our lives to him He will guide without mistake.
We, in our blindness, would never choose a pathway dark and rough.
And so we should never find in Him, "The God Who is Enough."
Oliver Cromwell's secretary was dispatched to the continent on some important business. He stayed one night in the seaport town and tossed and turned in his bed, unable to sleep.
According to an old custom, a servant slept in his room, and on this occasion slept soundly enough. The secretary at length awakened the man who asked how it was that his master could not rest.
I am so afraid something will fo wrong with the trip," was the reply.
"master," said the valet, "may I ask a question or two?"
"Did God rule the world before we were born?"
"Most assuredly he did."
"And will He rule it after we are dead?"
"Certainly He will."
"Then, master, why not let Him rule the present, too?
The secretary's faith was stirred, peace was the result, and in a few minutes both he and his servant were in sound sleep.
Has God ever said no to your dreams? A dream of going to the mission field....of marrying someone with whom you felt you were destined to be....of landing that promotion which was rightfully yours? These kind of mysterious no's are difficult to handle. If you believe that God really loves you, really wants what is best for you, if you trust him for what's best in your life, He will show you the better plan he has for you.
I know the thoughts that I have toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11)
The third truth is this - When God says no, we must realize that he knows us fully.
Like a humbled child, David expresses his trust in God's knowledge of his heart. He says to God:
Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that thou hast brought me this far? And what can David say more unto thee? For thou, Lord, knowest thy servant. (II Samuel 7:18-20)
It was a comfort to David that God knew him fully. God knew his capabilities and achievements. He knew his motives and attitudes. We should respond to situations like David responded. We must acknowledge His wisdom for our life even when He does something for us the way we least expect it to be done.
There was once a hitchhiker travelling around Chicago when it was only 20 degrees. As he was standing on the side of the road with the snowy air blowing on his cold exposed thumb, he began to wonder if he would ever get a ride.
In his despair, he saw an approaching car indicating that it was going to stop for him. As the car passed, the passenger's window was rolled down and a pair of gloves was hurled out to him.
As he put on the gloves, he waved thank you and continued hitchhiking.
Sometimes God meets our need in unusual ways and we must respond like the hitchhiker by saying, "Lord, that's not what I was expecting but thank you."
The fourth truth is this - When God says no, we must recommit to his will for our life. David's response to God's no was godly, gracious and full of trust.
And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it forever, and do as thou hast said. (II Samuel 7:25)
George W. Truett was entertained on one occasion in the home of a wealthy oil man in Texas. After the dinner the man took him up to the roof of the house and indicated a huge field of oil derricks and said, "Dr. Truett, that's all mine, I came to this country twenty five years ago, penniless, and now I own everything as far as you can see in that direction. Then he turned to the opposite direction and indicated waving fields of grain and said again, It's all mine. I own everything as far as you can see in that direction."
Then he turned to the east, and pointed to huge herds of cattle and said again, "It's all mine, everything as far as you can see in that direction is mine." One final time he turnedtoward the west and pointed to a great forest and said again, "Twenty-five years ago I was penniless, but I worked hard and saved, and today I own everything as far as you can see in this direction, that direction, that direction, and this direction."
He paused for the expected praise, but to his astonishment it didn't come. Dr. Truett laid his hand lovingly on his shoulder, pointed upward and said, "My friend, how much do you own in that direction?"
Where do you turn when God says no? Do you have a relationship with him that will sustain you through the periods of life that He says no? Do you run to the arms of disillusionment or to the embrace of God? We, like David, need to look up and depend solely on our Father to give us guidance.