When God Says “No”

II Samuel 7

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
October 2021

II Samuel 7 has two major topics.  One is doctrinal.  One is practical.  One deals with the Davidic Covenant and one deals with prayer.  We will look at these two topics in two separate lessons.

God made a covenant with David in this chapter. He made a promise to David.  He swore an oath that it will come to pass.  It is a messianic chapter.  It is not just about David.

It is also about the Son of David.  It is a prophecy of Jesus.  II Samuel 7 is prophetic.  It is also very practical. This chapter tells us how to pray.  There are some important lessons on prayer.

Have you ever had a dream that never came true?  Have you really wanted to do something, but never got it? Have you ever had one of your dreams completely shattered?  If you did, you are not alone.  The same thing happened to King David in the OT.  David wanted to do something for God.  He really wanted to do something for God and God said “no”.

How did you respond when you had to give up your dream?  Many people respond the wrong way.  We will see how David responded when his dream did not come to pass.  There are some important lessons in this chapter.  What is the background of the chapter?

Setting of the Chapter

As the chapter beings, David is on top of the world.  He has worked his way up from shepherd boy to outlaw to king.  He is a new king.  He is king over the whole nation, all twelve tribes.  He is popular.  Everyone loves him.  He is a national hero.

The new king is living in a new palace.  It has just been built.  He is wealthy.  He is living in the lap of luxury.  God blessed him abundantly.  He has all these beautiful wives.  He has lots of kids.

On top of that, he is at peace.  He has defeated, not just his enemies.  He has defeated ALL of his enemies around him (II Samuel 7:1 NIV).  David could have talked like Nebuchadnezzar did.

29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:29-30 NIV)

David could have said, “Is not this the great Jerusalem that I have built?”  He did conquer the city that no one else could conquer.  It was unconquerable up to that point.  He could have taken credit for it all and boasted.

He could have thought about himself.  He could have said, “I have been running from a demon-possessed king.  I had to leave my family.  I earned this.  I deserve this.  I have been living in caves for the last ten years.  Now, is my time to be pampered in the palace.”

Instead, David is unsettled.  He looks down from the balcony of his luxurious palace and sees God living in a little tent.  He seems to have everything, but he is not satisfied.  He is thinking, “How can I give back?  How can I help others?  How can I do more?  What can I do for God?”

In this world, there are givers and takers.  Some Christians are just takers. Which are you? David wants to be a giver.  He comes up with a plan.  The plan was to build a temple for God.  God has been housed in a tent and David does not think it is right.

He had to tell someone about it, so he told his best friend what he wanted to do for God.  It is important to have someone close that you can talk to about your dreams.  David must not have been close to some of his wives, because we do not hear about him talking to them about his dream.  Some of his wives were not too spiritual (e.g., Michal).

It is really important who you choose to be your friends.  Some can build you up and some can tear you down.  David made close friends with some godly people.  He became close friends with King Saul’s son Jonathon.  Jonathon was older than David was, but they developed a close bond.

Then, Jonathon died in battle.  He was killed by the Philistines.  David was heartbroken but he was also close to two other friends.  They were both prophets.  Their names were Nathan and Gad.  Samuel had a school of the prophets.  Maybe they were part of that school.  Many believe that they wrote II Samuel.

29 Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, and in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer (I Chronicles 29:29 ESV).

Gad was with David when he was a fugitive (cf. I Samuel 22:5).  Nathan was David’s advisor after he became king.  Nathan wasn’t just a personal friend of David.  He was a real prophet.  He heard directly from God, not like most people who claim to be prophets today.  He did not always tell people what they wanted to hear but what they needed to hear.

David told Nathan what he wanted to do for God and Nathan said, “That’s great. Do what is in your heart.  God is with you.”  He completely supported David.  He was not speaking as a prophet but as a friend. We should encourage fellow Christians as well.

Nathan did not throw a wet blanket on David’s passion.[1] He did not laugh at the idea.  He did not mock it.  He did not discourage him.  He was an encourager, like Barnabas, but he was also a prophet.

That night, Nathan goes home and goes to bed and something happens.  God speaks to him.  He received a message from God.  Nathan received a word from the Lord.  God didn’t speak to David.  He spoke to Nathan (II Samuel 7:4-16). God said, “It is not my will for David to do this.  David is not the man to build me a house, but I am not going to tell him. You are.”

The next day, Nathan went back to David and told him that he would not be able to build the temple, but his son would.  He also said that He was not going to build a house for God.  God was going to build a house for him.  God is in the house-building business.  He builds houses.  It is a pun on the word “house.”  It is a play on words.

Five Truths about Unanswered Prayer

Today, we are going to look at five truths about unanswered prayer from this passage.  Many Christians have yet to learn these five truths.  All of us have had unanswered prayers.  People in the Bible had them as well.

David does not get what he wants.  It will not be the last time He has an unanswered prayer.  After he has an affair, which results in a baby and the baby dies, he prays for the child to live.  That does not happen.  Have you ever prayed and not gotten what you asked for?  Here are five truths about unanswered prayer.

1) There is a difference between our desires and God’s will

Many do not understand this.  Some Christians do not understand it.  Many think that if they want something really bad, if they believe it will happen, if they have faith, they will receive it.

Jesus said if you have just a little faith, you can move mountains.  If you want to be healed, just have faith but there’s one problem.  If it is not God’s will for something, it doesn’t matter how much faith you have.  You can have mountains of faith.

I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (NIV). We hear the words, “If we ask ANYTHING, he hears us” but we leave out the words, “if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL”

How many women have wanted to marry a man and even prayed about it, but it was not God’s will?  How many men have had a desire to marry a woman, but it wasn’t God’s will?

Our desires are not the same thing as God’s divine will.  We are not always right.  We are not God.  Leaders (including anointed kings) were not always right.  Spirit-filled pastors are not always right.

David had dreams.  He had desires.  They were good desires.  God said that He did not need a temple.  He never asked for a temple. Was it wrong for David to desire to build one?  No.  We know that from what Solomon said.

“My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to my father David, ‘You did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name. (I Kings 8:18 NIV)

God knew David’s heart.  He was a man after God’s own heart.  He loved God.  He has a heart for God.  He seems to be putting God first.  He just returned the ark to Jerusalem.  He just made Jerusalem the worship capital of the nation.  He had a good desire to build the temple.  There was nothing wrong with the desire, but it was not God’s will.  David’s plans were not God’s plans.

That is why we have to pray “Thy will be done.” Even Jesus prayed this way and He was perfect.  He prayed, “not my will but your will be done” (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; cf. John 6:38).  how much more do we need to pray this.

2) Sometimes, God says “no”

Here is something that the preachers don’t tell.  They often say to follow your dreams.  They say to pursue your dreams.  It sounds good.  It is not necessarily wrong but, what they don’t tell you, is that God sometimes says “no” to DREAMS.  Sometimes, He says “no” to our PLANS.  Sometimes, God says “no” to our PRAYERS.

David wants to build God a temple.  God says, “It is not the time and you are not the man.”  He did NOT say that a temple for Him could be built, just not now.  He just said that David could not do it.  That must have hurt.  He really wanted to do it.  it was his idea and God said “no.”

We say “no” to our kids.  A parent that gives their child everything they ask for is only raising a monster. That is not what good parents do.  It is not what God does either.  Has God ever said “no” to you?

He says “no” to Apostles.  Paul had a thorn in the flesh.  He asked the Lord to take it away.  He asked three times and God said “no”.  Have you ever had a prayer that God said “no” to?

3) When God says “no” it is for a reason

It is not because God is mean or cruel or unfair.  He has a reason.  We may not know the reason or understand the reason.  God does not have to give us a reason, but He has one.

God does not always give us a reason why he says “no” but he gave David one.  We are not told the reason in II Samuel, but we are told the reason in I Chronicles.

David said to Solomon: “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God. 8 But this word of the Lord came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. (I Chronicles 22:7-8 NIV)

King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’ (I Chronicles 28:3 NIV).

God did not want David to build Him a house because he had too much blood on his hands.  The Temple was to be a house of prayer for all of the nations.  David had killed too many Gentiles.  He accepted that reason, as we will see.

4) God often gives us far better than we ask

God’s answer is sometimes far better than our request.  David asked God if he could build him a house.  God said, “No you can’t but I am going to build you one.”  God’s plan was not just to bless David but David’s house, David’s descendants for all eternity.  That was slightly bigger than the request.

The Bible says that God is able to do far more than we ever ask him.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20 NIV).  That is like asking someone to give you one dollar and they give you a hundred dollars instead.

5) Submit to God’s plan for your life

When God says “no” to us, we get angry.  We get bitter.  We get mad at God.”  God told Saul that he rejected him as king.  Saul fought the will of God.  He tried to kill the man God called to replace him, so the prophecy would not be fulfilled.

He tried to fight God and God’s will.  It only led to his death.  Do we submit to the will of God for our life?  David submits to God’s plan for his life.  That is exactly what he does here.

The first thing he does is he talks to God about it.  He does not immediately go to friends and complain or gossip or whine.  He goes to God.   Then King David went in and sat before the Lord (II Samuel 7:18 NIV).  It is the only tie in the Bible we see anyone sitting when they pray.  David is sitting before the Lord.

David does not say, “This is not fair.”  He says, “I do not deserve what you are about to do for me.” Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said, “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? (II Samuel 7:18 NIV)

He praises God.  How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. (II Samuel 7:22 NIV)

He submits himself to God’s will.  He says, “Do as you will.”  And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight. (II Samuel 7:25-26 NIV).

He asks God to do what he said he would do. “And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight. (II Samuel 7:28-29 NIV).

This is the way that we are to pray today.  We are to pray based on the Word of God.  We are to pray the promises of God back to Him.  It is called Scripture based prayer.

[1] Butler, J. G. (2010). Analytical Bible Expositor: I & II Samuel (p. 681). Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.

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