Following Christ and seeking to be faithful to him in your family, your career, and in your neighborhood can be daunting. Sometimes we feel that the challenges we face are simply too difficult to overcome. Often we begin some great project with high hopes of glorifying God and blessing others only to, like Peter, allow the winds and waves of “reality” cause us to sink in discouragement. Oftentimes that wind can roar and those waves can crash – pretty loudly!
I think that David had a similar experience. Upon becoming king over Israel, one of his first priorities was the capture of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the hitherto unassailable fortress of the Jebusites and had been a strong point of resistance to Israel’s rule right in the heart of their territory. In 1 Chronicles 11:4 we read that David, upon being anointed king, musters his forces and attacks the city. Once within earshot of the city, both 2 Samuel 5:6 and 1 Chronicles 11:5 make it clear that the Jebusites are quite confident that David cannot possibly succeed – and tell him so. In our text from 1 Chronicles, an emphatic negation is used; their statement could be translated, “Never will you come in here!”
Have you ever felt that the world is looking at your plans and efforts and saying, “Never?” Or, from another perspective, have you ever attempted to do anything for the Lord that was so audacious that the world would even trouble itself to oppose you? In either case, we have a strong encouragement to attempt great things for the Lord in this one verse – in fact, in one letter prefixed to one word in this verse!
Immediately following the boast of the Jebusites, we read a word that is translated from the Hebrew by the NIV with the words, “Nevertheless… he captured.” Adding the next Hebrew word, we read, “Nevertheless David captured…” Nevertheless! Despite the reality that from the world’s perspective the task cannot be accomplished, David succeeds.
Attempt great things for God. Often we only attempt things that we believe are perfectly reasonable and are likely to succeed in light of the exact same principles and values that inform the plans and actions of the secular world. Often we stop far short of attempting anything that cannot succeed unless God is in it. What is God calling you to do and to be? Will you listen to all of the voices that shout “Never” and scale back your efforts to something that can be reasonably accomplished by the most pragmatic pagan in Los Angeles? Or will you take risks! David ended up sending one of his valued leaders, Joab, into the city through a small aqueduct. This was not a fail-safe strategy! Whether or not it was expected, it still pitted a handful against the city’s entire garrison (2 Samuel 5).
In those areas of your life and ministry where you hear the word “Never!’ being hurled at you again and again, remember that “nevertheless” we can succeed. As Paul writes, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13). And attempt something so audacious that for it to succeed, he must strengthen you.