One of the most amazing prayers in the Bible is the one uttered by David in II Samuel 7:18-29.
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:
"Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?
"What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign Lord. For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
"How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel -- the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, O Lord, have become their God.
"And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, "The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!" and the house of your servant David will be established before you.
"Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, OI will build a house for you." So your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer. O Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever." (The Holy Bible, New International Version)
Besides the significance of the theological and prophetic elements found in this prayer, we can catch a glimpse of David's spirituality. We have much to learn from this man who is referred to by Samuel and quoted by Paul as a man after God's own heart (I Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
Let me briefly outline this prayer and share with you why I am so impressed by it.
David begins by giving thanks to the Lord in verses 18-21 for what God has promised He will do for him and his descendants. He is simply overwhelmed with God's goodness when he confesses, "What more can David say to you?" (v. 20)
Then, in verses 22-24, David praises the greatness of God and recounts His great deeds in delivering His people out of Egypt.
In the third and last part of this prayer, from verses 25-29, David prays that God will accomplish what He had promised -- I will build a house for you [David] -- and "that it may continue forever."
In this prayer, you will find that David is totally positive about God. There are no negative elements. There are no complaints. It is all praise, thanksgiving and recounting of God's goodness. Even David's petitions are based on the revealed will of God and His promises instead of his own desires and wishes.
What impresses me most about this prayer is the condition under which it was offered.
You will notice that in II Samuel 7:2, David wants to build a house for the Lord. David was living in luxury, "a house of cedar," and he felt that it was not right that Jehovah God was still living in a tent. Out of the goodness of his heart, David wanted to do something for God. His desire to build a temple for God was echoed by the prophet Nathan, albeit without seeking the face of the Lord.
That same night, the Lord asked Nathan to convey a message to the king of Israel. God did not want David to build a temple for Him. Instead He wanted Solomon, David's son, to do it.
I don't know what you would feel if you were David. I am certain that I would have been unhappy. I might have said something like, "I've waited this long. I sincerely want to do this, not for myself but for you, Lord. Why won't you allow me to do it?"
Since I was a teenager, people have been telling me that I am stubborn. I don't change my mind easily. My ego is fragile and my pride is sizable. I don't take "no" very well.
David had the resources to build a temple. He had good intentions. The timing was right because he was enjoying the prosperity of peacetime. Yet God rejected him. Why? Because he had shed too much blood (I Chronicles 22:8). What kind of a reason was that? He was fighting for God. In a way, he was fulfilling God's orders. Shedding blood is part of waging war. Besides, all the sacrifices he had offered to God should have covered the sin of spilling some blood. Right?
I can see myself arguing with God with such perfect logic. God almost seems unreasonable.
That is why my name is not David.
The greatness of David is his ability and willingness to adjust his vision to the vision of God. David was able and willing to change his perspective from his point of view to God's point of view. He was not stubborn. He was not prideful. He was not living to fulfill his dream, but to accomplish God's will.
After Nathan related God's message, the Bible records in verse 18, "Then King David went in and sat before the Lord" and started his prayer. He did not miss a beat. He did not have to spend a week pouting before God and complaining before men before he came to his senses. He went straight to prayer and began with such spiritual awe: "Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?" (v.18b) That is submission. That is humility. That is spirituality.
That is not what I would do or could do.
That is why I am so impressed, indeed, blessed by David's prayer.
May this prayer warm your heart and spur you on to greater spiritual heights.