September 6, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
David, one of the most beloved and godly kings of Israel, experienced unanswered prayer in his path to kingship. This period in his spiritual life could be described as the “David Cycle.”
1. The Promise
God called David to be king at a very young age through the prophet Samuel, and then gave him the training and notoriety that he needed in order to assume kingship.
Our Father also draws us to promises/opportunities, the “desires of [our] heart” (Psalm 37:4), in our lives. Perhaps they include the promise of justice, of a new job, of a marriage partner, or of even more maturity in turning our lives over to Christ. We pray for what we hope for, expecting God to fulfill it ASAP.
2. The Pause
Yet David is an example of how sometimes God gives us a pause in our prayer life, and we do not see our desires answered as the moments, days and even years might pass by.
All of God’s plans for David seemed to implode when Saul became insanely jealous for 20 years, using underhanded techniques to destroy David, and making David an outsider to the kingship. Although this must have been a confusing time for David, which was full of questions, pain and spiritual chaos, David continued to do what was right: waiting for the Lord, not acting on his own.
3. The Fulfillment
Finally, when Saul’s sons were killed or unable to assume kingship, David’s hopes were answered. The 20-year pause had been lengthy, but the promise unfolded way beyond the expectation just to be a king. David became the undisputed, powerful, beloved king of Israel with an everlasting dynasty through Jesus.
Psalm 37:1-11 was written to teach us, through David’s battle with injustice, what to do when we are in the pause mode with prayer.
Two Questions about Psalm 37:
1. What do I do in the pause?
- Do not fret!
David tells us three times not to fret (Psalm: 37:1,7,8). Fretting means getting worked up, turning the issue over and over in your mind. Fretting “only leads to evil” (Psalm 37: 8), such as worry, anger, even bitterness and hatred. The problematic issue keeps reinjuring us every time it comes up.
David’s Psalm 37 is full of positive verbs, such as “trust, do good, dwell in joy, delight, commit, be still, and wait patiently.” Using a pastoral picture, David encourages us to “enjoy safe pasture” and “delight in the Lord” (Psalm 37:3). In the midst of pause in our prayer life, we are to go ahead, enjoy life and especially God’s faithfulness (Psalm 37:4, 5, 6,11) in guiding our paths.
- Wait for God to act!
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). We need to leave space for God to provide. Of course, we will not be completely passive, taking action when required; i.e., looking for a job, and jumping out of the way of danger. Yet we do not take total control of the action with our own hands and minds, so that we can make sure His full promise happens.
God calls us to recognize our circumstances, surrender our welfare to him, and wait for His fulfillment.
2. Why the pause?
We want to know why God would give us hope if He is going to take it away. Yet God very rarely gives us the “why” in His Word.
- In the pause, we do find God in our daily provisions, with just enough to make it through the day.
- The waiting is where growth happens. The pause is where God accomplishes His purposes, e.g., draws our hearts to Him, works on our character, transforms us.
If God seems like He is not moving, be assured that:
- God will lead us in the midst of the pause.
- As God meets us in the pause, He will grow us.
If we, like King David, experience a pause in the promises/opportunities God has drawn us to, then we are encouraged by Psalm 37 that in just such times of life, we can delight and trust in the Lord while we wait for “the desires of [our] heart” to be fulfilled.