~by Randy Bushey
… the king made a compact with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years (2 Samuel 5:3,4).
Have you ever prayed for something…and waited?
Why did the heavens seem silent? Why would the Lord take so long to answer a sincere, heartfelt prayer?
American Rabbi Harold Kushner prayed about his son for years without getting the answer he was looking for, and therefore changed his whole understanding of God.
God must not be Almighty, he concluded. He cannot be omnipotent or He would have acted already.
As the rabbi reformatted his conception of the Lord, he reached a dramatic – if uneasy – conclusion: God must not have limitless power to achieve what He wanted. The world is a complicated place, and God just doesn’t have adequate control or sufficient energy to respond to every request or answer every prayer.
Others have adopted a deistic approach. Maybe God created the cosmos, and then like a divine watchmaker ceases to be involved in that which He has created. He therefore doesn’t hear our pleas for intervention, because He just doesn’t get involved.
Still others making requests to the Almighty have been tempted to question whether God is even listening. Or does He care? Is He distracted and missing the immediacy of my request?
But David’s story illustrates a fundamental – and completely rational – biblical truth: God’s timing is not our timing. And in many cases, because He knows all things and is in total control to achieve His purposes for His people, God does not sense the urgency that we feel.
This was a spiritual maxim that David must have reflected on frequently, wondering if Samuel’s prediction of David’s monarchy would ever be realized.
How, when David was a national fugitive of the king, could his own kingship ever come to fruition?
David’s full life span was 70 years. And yet from David’s first anointing by Samuel until David was crowned king of Israel, likely at least 2 decades had elapsed!
Why did God wait so long??
Didn’t He see the need to act quickly? Hadn’t the Lord witnessed the damage Saul was doing to the nation – the Lord’s chosen people – by ignoring matters of state? Wasn’t the Lord concerned about Saul’s continued feeding of his own paranoia? Didn’t the Lord care that the king was disregarding the demands of governing as he relentlessly pursued David?
Why on earth didn’t God move David into position to replace Saul and lead Israel much earlier to mitigate the national damage? Surely if He was more deliberate and prompt, the Lord could have gotten an extra decade of useful service from this one who was, after all, a man after God’s own heart.
But underscoring the story of the life of David lies an important biblical principle – one we need to frequently remember and apply to our thinking.
God’s ways are not our ways. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.
And God’s timing is not our timing.
This obvious principle should be a source of comfort to us.
Takeaway: This is where our theology – our understanding of who God is – is so foundational to our worldview. Either God is all-powerful (omnipotent) and all-knowing (omniscient), or He is not.
The clear teaching of the Scripture is that His understanding – past, present, and future – is not only complete, but He also knows every possible contingency, and every ripple effect of causation.
And our God has sufficient power to achieve whatever He wants, without limit, in His governing of the cosmos, anywhere and any time.
The Bible is emphatic: He will work out His plan perfectly to fulfill His purposes. We can rest in His perfect timing.
David understood that his own vantage point was severely limited.
God is God. I am not.
Therefore, I know His answer to my prayer may simply be a matter of holding off for His perfect timing to achieve something I can’t possibly see, for His greater purposes.
And that’s why 1000 years after David, the Apostle Paul could summarize this way: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son (Romans 8:28,29).
~graphic by Richard Simpson, freeimages.com