Pastor's Pondering


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Can You Handle "No"

by Duane Mabee on November 8, 2018

Recently, I heard Pastor James MacDonald observe something about King David that I have never heard before or considered.  He talked about how David wanted to build a Temple for God in 2 Samuel 7, but God said “no”.  God told David that it was a good desire, but David wasn’t the one to do it.  Got it so far. 


In 1 Chronicles 22-26, David makes all of the plans for the Temple – literally all of them.  He gathers all the materials, which seems to indicate that he had also drawn up all of the blueprints.  He goes so far as to organize everything related to the functioning of the Temple after it is erected.  He organizes the Levites, the priests, the musicians, the gatekeepers, the treasurers, and the officials.  That’s a little over zealous, but good, I think.  I have often wondered how Solomon felt.  “You gave me the responsibility of building the Temple, but you won’t let me do anything.  Can’t I even pick the color of the stone?” 


So far, I’ve seen all that before.  David had a heart to build the Temple.  It was deeply ingrained in his psyche – so much so that he went overboard.  It was a good desire.  God said so.  But I’ve never noticed the timing issue that Pastor MacDonald pointed out.


David wanted to build the Temple in 2 Samuel 7, but God said “no”.  Notice what happens after that.  David starts out well.  He thanks God for choosing him and blessing him.  He launches into several victories in chapter 8.  He cares for the relative of his friend Jonathan in chapter 9, honoring a promise he made.  All good so far, but by chapter 11 things begin to fall apart badly.  David isn’t where he should be.  He sins with Bathsheba.  He murders her husband and covers it all up.  His parenting skills take a nosedive in chapters 13 and following, and he is run out of town by his own son.  What happened? 


James MacDonald suggested that David had a problem with being told “no”.  He didn’t respond well.  God said “no”.  David handled it for a little while but then fell apart. 


Whether that is exactly what happened or not, it points out a significant problem many of us have.  We don’t handle being told “no” very well – even if it comes from God.  We justify ourselves.  We manipulate to get our way.  We flat out disobey.  And, when we do, it doesn’t work out well.  It doesn’t work out well in our families.  It doesn’t work out well in our careers.  It doesn’t work out well in our relationships.  And, it doesn’t work out well between us and God. 


How do you handle being told “no”?  That is a key component of obedience.  If you can’t handle “no” you aren’t in submission to God, you’re in rebellion.  That won’t work out well.