What are you asking of God today? C. S. Lewis once observed: “Prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them.” Lewis reminds us that God knows what is best for us. If our prayers are answered “no,” we act like it’s a disaster. But the Lord really does know best, and in His perfect love and wisdom all His answers to prayer are perfect as well. Very often, as in today’s reading, He actually has something better in store for us!
David’s prayer, implicitly conveyed through the prophet Nathan, was to build a temple for the Lord (v. 2). This prayer showed that his heart was in the right place. Nonetheless, God said “no” (vv. 5–7). He had a bigger purpose and a better plan, as David later acknowledged (vv. 21–22). The Lord promised present and future faithfulness to David and his descendants. Specifically, He promised that a future son of David would be king and build a temple for Him (v. 13). In fact, He told David: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (v. 16). It’s as if God said: “You want to build me a house?! I will build you a real house!” This promise is fulfilled in Christ. Another key part of biblical success is trusting God’s love, wisdom, and power above our own. He always wants our best and knows what’s best. Failure is trusting ourselves above the Lord. That sounds ludicrous but how often we do it anyway!
>> Part of God’s promise to David was that He would discipline his future son as needed (v. 14). Today, God still disciplines those whom He loves (Heb. 12:5–11; Rev. 3:19). This might feel to us like failure, but it’s not!