DEVOTION: Not Getting Our Own Way (2 Samuel 7:1-17)
How often have you been reminded that it’s not always possible to get your own way?
For example, when you are trying to buy something, and you are looking for something specific, how often do you get exactly what you want? Indeed, how often are you told that what you want is either sold out or no longer available?
When you ask someone to do something, or to get something—and you need that person to get it right—how often do people not do as you ask, even after you have chased them and chased them to get the desired result?
And when you are asked what gift you would like to receive, how often do you find that your wishes are ignored? Indeed, you’re not given what you have suggested at all. And as a consequence, you wonder why you were asked what you wanted in the first place.
What we want, and what we get are often two very different things. And that can be very frustrating.
Now, if I have struck a chord with you, and if sometimes you have felt hard done by, by not getting your own way, then think today about King David. Because what King David wanted to do was to build his God a temple—a permanent dwelling place, where God could “symbolically” live. Something to replace the temporary tent (or “tabernacle” as it was called). A very noble cause. And yet, what was God’s response? A resounding “No.”
At the time, David had made Jerusalem his home. He had settled in his own palace and had already been blessed by God. God had taken him as a shepherd boy and made him king and ruler over Israel. He had also dealt with all of David’s enemies. And as a consequence, David desperately wanted to do something for his God. And building a magnificent temple was what he had in mind. David was totally unselfish in his attitude. But God’s answer was still a resounding “No.” He wouldn’t let him build the temple at all.
Now when we don’t get our own way, we might get pretty upset. But think how devastated David would have been. And it wasn’t that he was trying to do something for himself. He wanted to do something for his God. But God didn’t want to be a part of it. He didn’t want David building his temple at all. And if that was me, I think I would have been devastated.
But, you know, this story has a twist. Because part and parcel of David not getting his own way, and part and parcel of God saying “No” was a response by God, promising David that he would bless him, even more that he had done before.
And what God promised was, firstly, that he would make David’s name great—as if his name wasn’t great already. God promised he would make his name greater still. Secondly, God promised a continuing home for his people. He had already given his people the Promised Land, but now God promised that they would continue to exist in the land—that they would become one with the land. Thirdly, God promised freedom from oppression. Indeed, he promised an end to the continuing hostilities that threatened their existence. And fourthly, God promised a family line of kings to succeed David, making sure that David’s name would continue down the ages. And all of these things, God promised, would be for David and his people, if they continued their relationship with God, and didn’t fall away.
Well, can you imagine it? David may have been frustrated that he didn’t get his own way regarding building God a temple, but with God’s response, with all the things that he promised, it’s not surprising that David responded the way he did. Because David’s reaction to God wasn’t a temper tantrum for not getting his own way, rather he was overwhelmed with God’s love and generosity.
And with that in mind, let’s get back to those situations where we don’t always get our own way. Because when we are dealing with other people, there will be times when we don’t get the things that we want. With people there will be times when they don’t do what we ask. And with people there will be times when we are asked what we want, and then we will be given something very different. And all of that might be very frustrating.
But in our relationship with God, yes, there might be times when we don’t always get our own way—even when we want to do something good for God. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t bless us beyond our imagination too.
Because, surely that is the kind of God that we believe in. God is a God who wants us to do things for him—and we shouldn’t stop trying to please him. But we also have to accept that not everything that we want to do is right in his eyes. We may not always get our own way, even with God, but if we are godly men and women, like David, we will be blessed by God—and blessed beyond our wildest dreams.
Our story of David, today, began with the hope of building a temple—a magnificent building where God could symbolically live. And yet, even though God said “No,” God continued to bless him. David could have thrown a tantrum, but he surely wasn’t disappointed with the end result. And if we are sincere about the things that we want to do for our creator, we shouldn’t necessarily be disappointed with the end result either.
Posted: 12th May 2018
© 2018, Brian A Curtis