When a Dream Dies
But the Lord said to David my father, “Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.” —1 Kings 8:18-19
We usually list our failures and disappointments in the negative column of our lives, but perhaps God views them from a different perspective. The life of King David is a great illustration of what God does with an imperfect person whose heart is in the right place.
David’s son, King Solomon, built the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, but it began with David’s dream. He wanted to build a permanent house for God to replace the Tabernacle, and his dream became a reality during Solomon’s reign. During the grand dedication ceremony, Solomon reflected on the significance of his father’s original idea and on how the Lord had responded.
Though David desired to erect a house to honor God, the Lord told him no. But God clarified it wasn’t David’s idea He was rejecting—it was the circumstances. David’s reign as a warrior-king made him unsuitable for the role of Temple-builder (1 Chronicles 28:2-3). He drafted the plans and made the preparations, but Solomon constructed the building.
Imagine David’s disappointment—God’s chosen king, longing to build a house for his Lord, watching his dream die. Yet he was commended by God for even having his dream: “You did well that it was in your heart.” In fact, God used the phrase “in your heart” twice, describing how David’s deep desire pleased Him.
But why would a desire that God would not fulfill actually please Him? Because of David’s motive; he wanted to build the Temple, not to inflate his own legacy but to publicly express God’s worth and majesty. The Lord did not overlook David’s dream—he was still “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).
God’s response to David reveals a phenomenal principle about His view of our lives: He honors not just our actions but also our pure intentions. Many of us envision some good things God might do with our lives. Yet how often do some of those righteous dreams we want to accomplish not happen? Hear this: Just as God was pleased with David, so He is pleased “that it was in your heart.”
Spend some time considering your disappointments. How many of them could you describe as desires to exalt the name of Christ in your generation? Perhaps you’ve had dreams to write, create, build, say, do, or make something that would draw people’s attention to your Savior, and are disappointed those dreams haven’t come true. Whether or not they ever do, know that God sees what is in your heart—and if your motives are to bring Him glory, your actions and your intentions are pleasing to Him.
When you consider your dreams to honor God, what disappointments do you feel? What dreams have you watched fade or die?
How does God’s assurance to David shape your view of your disappointments?
Lord, I admit that some of my dreams are for my own selfish benefit, rather than for Your glory. Please forgive me for my shallow dreams. I realize that simply desiring great things in Your name is far better than obtaining my own meager “successes.” Please grow my desire to please You and nurture my dreams that honor You. Thank You that whether or not I accomplish grand things for You, You are pleased when that it is in my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.