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” to cause us to sink in discouragement and fear. That wind can roar and those waves can crash – pretty loudly sometimes.
I think that David had a daunting challenges too. When he became king, one of his first priorities was the capture of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the unassailable fortress of the Jebusites. It was situated right in the heart of Israelite territory and had been a strong point of resistance to Israelite rule for generations. In 1 Chronicles 11:4 we read that David, upon being anointed king, mustered his forces and attacked the city. Once within earshot of the city, both 2 Samuel 5:6 and 1 Chronicles 11:5 make it clear that the Jebusites were quite confident that David could not possibly succeed – and they told 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 perhaps you have never 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 in this verse a strong encouragement to attempt great, even seemingly impossible things for the Lord.
Immediately following the boast of the Jebusites that Jerusalem would “never” be captured, 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? Will you only attempt those things at which the world shouts, “Probably Not…” 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). If God is calling you to take a step (or leap?) of faith into some new arena of ministry or chapter of life, pay no mind to the “nevers” that echo down from the world’s walls. Even if what God calls you to is so audacious that for it to succeed, God himself must strengthen you, make the attempt. Say to the world “Nevertheless…” and take that step!