When your dreams won't come true (II Samuel 7)

Series: David, a man after God's heart


Good afternoon. Let’s continue our series on David, today. I would like to remind you that, now, David is King. He has moved the Ark of the Covenant, to Jerusalem, and the whole country is now under his direction. The second phase of his life is unfolding from Chapter 5 to Chapter 11. And today, we look, at this time, in II Samuel, Chapter 7. If you would open your Bible to this page, and while you do so, let me ask you, “Is there any dream you have ever made, any plans that you’ve ever conceived, any goal that you’ve ever tried to reach, to only find yourself, with a slammed door in your face?” This afternoon, I wonder, “How many broken dreams each of us has ever encountered in his or her life?” If you had asked me, twenty years ago, what visions I had for the future, I would never have said, “to live in New Hampshire and preach for people, there!” In fact, when friends, from the Northeast, told me, one day, that I should consider working in the Northeast, I laughed in their faces. My dream was to be a missionary in Africa or in French Guyana. I wanted to teach the French people. I wanted to create churches, in the villages, of the jungles. I had it all together. I would preach while my wife would give medical help to the crowds. I would reach hundreds of thousands of non-Christians! Now I look back and I smile at my foolishness. I look back and I wonder how many of us built castles of sand, in our minds, and find ourselves, a few months later or a few years later, on a totally different road. This afternoon, how many broken dreams do we have here.

David had many broken dreams. But, perhaps, the most famous one came from our story, this afternoon. In II Samuel 7:1-2, we read, “….” Now, note this, first, about David’s life. For thirteen years, David has been involved in stressful situations. For thirteen years, he has had to fight to keep his head above water. He had to run for his life and he has had to fight for his rights. And now, finally, the Bible says, “David settles in his palace and rested from all his activities!” You have, here, one of the rare times of quiet, peace and calm in the life, of this man. Really, you could see him, here, as being in the eye of the storm. Lots of things have happened before and lots will happen after; but for now, God is blessing him with peace. You know, I am thankful for these times, when God provides some peace! I am thankful that He knows when I have had too much, when I need to rest, before facing the next set of problems on my journey. Praise God, when you get those times. Never stop appreciating them. For in truth, Satan never lets up. He keeps hammering and hammering, at us, until we fall! But the positive side is that God knows and He never gives you more than you can handle. When too much is too much, He restrains Satan, pulls on the leash, and gives us a moment to breath.

Now I think there are two ways David enjoys his peace. He enjoys peace in his home, in his palace. Sure, Michal is still upset because David danced with servant girls; but David does not see her anymore. He’s got six other wives with six other sons. Each bedroom, in his house, is filled with life. He can sit by the fire, at night, and watch the fire crackle. He can write on a sign, above his door: “Shalom”, all is at peace. Not only that, but his enemies have let up. There is no giant, insulting God’s armies and the Philistines have withdrawn. There are no war chariots, rushing through the streets. God says, “All his enemies are quiet!” And now, the text says, “David starts to dream.” He is in his lovely cedar-lined home and he starts thinking of what he’d like to do next! And note the great, great attitude of David in the next verse, verse 2. Now you know what we have a tendency to do when all is well. We forget about God. We, eventually, lose sight of who gave us all our blessings. But David is a man after God’s own heart. He isn’t like that! In his time of blessings, of peace, he meditates on the Lord. He uses his vacation, not to do horseback riding, but to think of God. He looks at his home, then he looks at the tent of God and he feels shame. He remembers his blessings are meant to be of some use for God’s house. Talk about seeking first the kingdom of God! And so, David tells his old friend, Nathan, the prophet, about a dream – his dream. He will build a home for God! He will exalt the name of the Lord! Now don’t see any ulterior motive in this. David is genuine. He loves God; he is not seeking his own glory, but God’s glory. And Nathan is impressed with this attitude. He says, in verse 3, “…”

Now, I don’t get the impression, when I read the whole text, that Nathan really had this revealed to him, by God. He must have considered David’s success, the Lord’s tent, and spoken before he really knew the will of God, because in the next verse, we read, verses 4-5, “….” Perhaps another passage, parallel to this one, puts it a little more clearly. I Chronicles 17:2-4 says, “….” You know that must have been a hard answer for David. He wanted to do Good. A few hours earlier, his friend, Nathan, had told him, “You go ahead. God is with you!” And now, his hopes are crushed by God’s answer, “No”. God flashes a red light and says, “No, no way!” Obviously, God had another view of things. He had other intentions! David’s dreams were in collision with God’s dreams! But notice this about God’s answer:

  1. God offers David some encouragement and some enlightenment towards his true abilities and ministry. He says, in verses 8-9, “…” In other words, God is saying, “David, you are King. I have chosen you to lead my people – to inherit their promise in this land! You are there to give them the kingdom I have promised, not to build temples.” You see, David was chosen and gifted, to be a man of war. He was equipped to be a fighter, a soldier, not an architect or a mason. Look in I Chronicles 28:3 and read, “….” See, David’s heart was on the battlefield. He was a man for the trenches!

  2. God offers some praises. It is not directly apparent, here, but, if you go to II Chronicles 6:78, you read this, from the mouth of Solomon, “…” See David was told that it was not God’s plan to have a house, now, but that he did well to dream up things for God. Rather than rebuking him, God commends him for having a heart that is sensitive to the glory of his Master. Folks, can God slam a door, before you, but still be pleased with the decision you wanted to make? Absolutely! Your dreams may not come true; but they may be wonderful and pleasant to God. And so, here is the third thing he is told.

  3. In II Samuel 7:12-13, we read, “…” See, David was told that you have a different call. You have a different ministry. You did well to want this; but, really, Solomon is the one I have chosen to do this. God will say, later, that Solomon would be the king of rest and peace – the architect. Now what would be your reaction, if this were told to you? How would you feel if God took your dream away and gave it to another?
Well, I love what David does next. In II Samuel 7:17-18, we read, “….” He sits before the Lord. He is dumfounded, but not pounding. And then, he says, in verses 18-22, “….” Folks, what he does, here, he sits and counts his blessings. Instead of being sour, he thanks the Lord for all His tender care. It reminds me of the song, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one”. For one by one, David counts the ways God has blessed him. He says, “God, you’ve blessed my house and you’ve blessed my life. You’ve brought me from leading a little flock of sheep, to this magnificent throne! Who am I, God, for you to do that? Dream, or no dream, I am a blessed man!” What a statement of praise, in the midst of disappointment!

But the story doesn’t end there. Will David respond right, at first, and then turn around, as we so often do, and become sour because he didn’t get his way? In I Chronicles 22:1-5, we read, “….” What a wonderful attitude! What an unselfish response! David, sure, he has a good heart. He has been denied a dream; but he has not backed off totally. He has taken a step back and become a silent supporter. He does everything he can to help another, after him. He gathers stone and nails and makes plans to help his son. By doing this, he magnifies the name of God, through the efforts of another! Solomon will, later, build a house for God that will be one of the most magnificent buildings of the ancient world! And this concludes our study for this afternoon. But before we depart, I believe there are lessons we need to apply, in our lives. There are, at least, three points that we can make out of all of this.

I. Use good times efficiently.

The number one lesson is this. In life, you are going to face many battles. You will face storms, after storms, after storms. But, also, God will bless you with moments of peace. For some of us, those times will be few and short. For others, they will be plentiful and of longer duration. But, whether it is short or long, there is one thing we all need to learn. We need to keep good times to renew our commitment to God and make new plans to serve Him. Use these times, when you are strong, to pray, for those times, when you are weak! Use these times, of rest, to get involved, more deeply, in the church, to seek the calling God has for you! Look how you might have failed to put Him first and make the appropriate adjustments.

Remember, always, that the times of abundance are there to help you in the times of need. That is a principle that is true, in everything - whether you talk of money, spirituality or of human relationships. So many times, I hear people say, “I am going through some struggles and I feel alone. I have no one who cares for me.” And, you know, the sad thing is, that it’s partly true! They have never used their time, of prosperity, to create good relationships, to get close to a few people and to their God. They have gone, selfishly, into life, enjoying their blessings, their new toys and the people of this world. And now, in times of distress, they don’t have a friend, or two, who can help them and support them, emotionally and spiritually. And they don’t know how God cares because they have never studied their Bible and meditated on God’s attributes. David was not like that. In his times of peace, he spent time getting closer to God, getting closer to prophets of God, like Nathan, and renewing his commitment. So, number one, use your good times efficiently.

II. Accept a “No” answer!

Here is lesson number two. Dream big, dream for God, dream for yourself; but learn this. “Not all dreams you have will be God’s will!” You may have, in mind, to do something very noble; but God may not agree with your plans. And anything that is against the Lord’s Will, will not come to fruition, or to fulfillment! He will eventually close the door before you. Sometimes, it will happen before you start a project. Sometimes, it will happen while you have undertaken the project. No matter what, though, remember that God knows what is best for you. I am reminded of a little story about stubbornness and knowing what is best.

The Battleship and the Lighthouse

In the darkest part of the night, a ship’s captain cautiously piloted his warship through the fog-shrouded waters. With straining eyes, he scanned the hazy darkness, searching for dangers, lurking just out of sight. His worst fears were realized when he saw a bright light straight ahead. It appeared to be a vessel on a collision course with his ship.

To avert disaster, he quickly radioed the oncoming vessel. “This is Captain Jeremiah Smith,” his voice crackled over the radio. “Please alter your course, ten degrees south! Over.”

To the captain’s amazement, the foggy image did not move. Instead, he heard back, on the radio, “Captain Smith, this is Private Thomas Johnson. Please alter your course, ten degrees north! Over.”

A second time, the oncoming light did not budge. “With all due respect, Captain Smith,” came the private’s voice again, “I order you to alter your course, immediately, ten degrees north! Over.”

Angered and frustrated that this impudent sailor would endanger the lives of his men and crew, the captain growled back over the radio, “Private Johnson, I can have you court-martialed for this! For the last time, I command you, on the authority of the United States government, to alter your course, ten degrees to the south! I am a battleship!”

The private’s final transmission was chilling: “Captain Smith, sir, once again, with all due respect, I command you to alter your course, ten degrees to the north! I am a lighthouse!”

See, sometimes, we are like a ship captain. We want our way; but God says, “No, no way!”

Do you remember who, in the Bible, got a “No” answer to his demands. Paul! In II Corinthians 12:8, he says, “Three times I asked God to remove my thorn in the flesh and three times, I was told, ‘His grace is sufficient for me’.” See, Paul, also, knew that all his dreams and desires would not come to pass. But he recognized that it was for his own good; and so, he learned to live with the situation God put him in. And when my dreams are broken, instead of getting angry, I need to force myself to think; instead of becoming bitter, I should count my blessings. Maybe this is God’s doing. He might have a better way. He might have something else in mind and I need to take the new direction. How many times has He failed me? How many times has He been wrong? Sometimes it takes a “No” answer for me to be back on the right road! And so, thank God, in all circumstances, when you get a “No” and when you get a “Yes”. As someone has said, “To some people, God says, ‘No’. To some people, He says, ‘Yes.’ But, His answer is always best.”

III. Don’t be sour when God says, “No”!

The next lesson may be a little harder. I know all of us have broken dreams. And some of us have seen our dreams lived out by others. But I don’t know that all of us have, always, handled it as well as David has. Frankly, when you see the Solomon, the younger ones, come and take over, what is your reaction? How do you handle the situation? It takes an incredible amount of humility, I think, to say, “May God be with you. I will do everything I can to help you! To see the dream get accomplished!” And yet, it’s the way that I should be. I know I might have had the abilities; but the bottom line, God had another will for my life and now I need to support the one He has chosen to accomplish the job. It might be a man, in the church, who wants to go to Africa. It might be a person trying to start a project at church that I have been wanting to do, for a long time. No matter what, let us learn to say, “God, I will support the one You have chosen to do the job so that glory might come to You!


I want to finish with a poem that expresses David’s experience and the feelings I should have for broken dreams. Here is what it says.

One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.

And I walked earth’s highways, grieving,
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
“Lift those empty hands to Me!”

So I held my hands toward Heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches
Til they could contain no more.

And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full!

This afternoon, God is ready to fill your empty hands, like you would never believe. Why don’t you let Him? Why don’t you say, “God mold my life, use me and shape me! Purify my heart! Wash me in the blood of Your Son, as I walk down into the waters of baptism!” If, this afternoon, the invitation is for you, come down while we stand and sing!