WHEN GOD SAYS NO by Ray Pritchard This week the Bible Bus passed through the early chapters of II Samuel where we followed David as he rose to the throne and captured the city of Jerusalem. Second Samuel 7 tells the fascinating story of his desire to build a beautiful temple for the Lord. David felt it was wrong for the king to live in a magnificent palace while the Lord dwelt in a tent. When he approached Nathan with his dream, the prophet encouraged him to go ahead because surely the Lord would bless such a noble endeavor. But that was before the Lord weighed in on the subject. Essentially the Lord said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve been living in a tent (the Tabernacle) ever since I brought you out of Egypt many generations ago. I told you how to build it, you built it, and I’ve made my earthly home there ever since. It’s perfectly comfortable, I like it, and to be truthful, I never asked you to build a permanent home for me.” Then the Lord went on to tell David that he loved him and would always be with him, and that one of his descendants would always reign on the throne in Jerusalem. From a New Testament perspective, that was a promise of the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. And it’s a promise that is awaiting its final fulfillment when Jesus comes again to establish his kingdom on the earth. Here you have a man after God’s own heart who wants to do something magnificent to honor the Lord. His motives are pure and his idea is worthy. There is no sin involved (David’s affair with Bathsheba is still in the future). If you read on to the end of David’s life, you discover that God would not allow him to build the temple because he was a “man of blood.” So the honor went to Solomon, his son. But even those battles that David fought were battles for the Lord’s sake. There is in all of this an important biblical truth. We may be in the will of God, doing the work of God, walking with the Lord, our motives may be pure, and still the Lord may not grant our desires. As far as I can tell, David did nothing wrong in wanting to build a temple. God simply said, “Not now, not here, not you.” God had other plans for David and he had other plans for getting the temple built. I find it instructive and encouraging to remember that God’s denials are not necessarily his punishments. Sometimes he says “No” for reasons that have nothing to do with us personally. The good news is that when God says “No,” he still loves us. Someday we will be glad that it was his will and not ours that was done.