Passing the torch
We won’t get to accomplish everything we want to do in this life. There will be activities and achievements which will escape our grasp. Sometimes we will be held back by our own decisions, for better or worse. And yet other times, it will be God’s choice that the task should be handed off to someone else.
As David was nearing the end of his life, he looked at his beautiful palace and lavish amenities. David compared his living situation to the tabernacle of the Lord, which was still in the same tent-configuration that Moses had commissioned during Israel’s travels through the desert before entering the Promised Land. David wanted to rectify this gross discrepancy. He desired to honor the Lord with a proper place of worship, with a design that expressed the greatness of the Lord.
Although David desired to do a good thing, God didn’t want him to do it. Instead, that project would be given to his successor.
1 Chronicles 22:6-10
Then he summoned his son Solomon and instructed him to build a house for the Lord God of Israel. “My son,” David said to Solomon, “It was in my heart to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, but the word of the Lord came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and waged great wars. You are not to build a house for My name because you have shed so much blood on the ground before Me.
But a son will be born to you; he will be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies, for his name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for My name. He will be My son, and I will be his father. I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’ ”
David desired to do a good thing for God and he was called “A man after God’s own heart”…but he was still told “No.” That had to have stung. David could have stopped his desire right there, thrown up his hands, and basically told his young protégé “Good luck with that. Apparently God says that it’s your job, not mine.”
Instead, he takes the time to encourage Solomon:
1 Chronicles 22:11-13
“Now, my son, may the Lord be with you, and may you succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as He said about you. Above all, may the Lord give you insight and understanding when He puts you in charge of Israel so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will succeed if you carefully follow the statutes and ordinances the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or discouraged.”
But David didn’t give Solomon only instruction and well wishes. He also gave Solomon a massive head start in gathering materials and resources for this significant task:
1 Chronicles 22:14-16
“Notice I have taken great pains to provide for the house of the Lord – 3,775 tons of gold, 37,750 tons of silver, and bronze and iron that can’t be weighed because there is so much of it. I have also provided timber and stone, but you will need to add more to them. You also have many workers: stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and people skilled in every kind of work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron – beyond number. Now begin the work, and may the Lord be with you.”
David couldn’t do what he wanted to do for God, because God had designated that accomplishment for someone else. Instead of sulking or giving up on his desire, David trusted God’s plan and wisely rerouted his energies into mentoring and assisting his protégé.
One of the ways God keeps a mentor’s ego in check is to tell him or her “No.” We need to exercise trust and humility when those moments come. If we desire to do a good thing, but God prevents us from doing so, then we can trust that God has something greater in mind.
When our mentor hands us a significant task or ministry, we also need to exercise trust and humility. We may even believe that our mentor is better suited for the work than we are. However, when God signals that it’s time to pass the torch, we must trust His timing and go for it.