“Thank God I never got her pregnant!” Okay… Maybe he didn’t say those exact words. But I’m certain King David must have caught a glimpse of God’s sovereignty in the rear view mirror – especially where his wife Michal was concerned. It’s a story seldom told. And yet offers a fantastic illustration concerning the blessings of a closed door. The complete episode can be found in 2 Samuel 6. The cliff note version goes like this:
Saul was the first King of Israel. And his daughter, Michal, was given in marriage to David. After David ascended the throne, he brought the Ark of God back to Jerusalem. He was so overcome with joy that he danced before the Lord and in the streets of Jerusalem wearing only a linen ephod. (Basically it means that the King of Israel danced before the nation in his underwear, leaving no doubt about his exuberance for the Lord).
His wife Michal was extremely provoked by her husband’s actions and later confronted him with a snide remark, questioning his motives. David was offended and insulted by what she said. As a result, he sent her away from his presence to be taken care of by servants and handmaidens. From that day forward, he never had sexual relations with her. They never bore children together.
Seems a tad bit over-bearing, even for that time? The Bible says she watched the parade from a distance and felt embittered in her heart. Maybe she felt embarrassed. Maybe it was because she had fallen in love with one of her father’s other generals but was forced to marry David. Maybe she was angry that David showed more emotion for God than her. Maybe she was mournful about her father’s death and lashed out in pain.
Whatever the reason, something got under her skin about the whole episode and her emotions got the better of her. Not excusing her behavior, just offering a possible explanation. But to send her into seclusion with zero opportunity to bear children and zero chance to re-marry over one stupid remark… seriously! David’s harsh treatment towards Michal always bothered me.
Then one day I stumbled on the fascinating events of 2 Samuel 21. A three-year famine had come upon the land. According to scripture, it was judgement because of the unmerciful cruelty Saul had displayed against the Gibeonites during his reign. Although he had promised to protect them, he attacked them instead, nearly wiping out all of their people.
King David summoned the Gibeonite leaders to his court and inquired, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make amends?” In reply they demanded that seven of Saul’s male descendents be handed over for execution as payment for the betrayal against them. The King obliged their request.
At that moment anyone with bat-brains would have recognized the divine closed door so mercifully orchestrated on David’s behalf. If there had been a single male son or grandson born to David and Michal, they would have been handed over to the Gibeonites. David would have watched while his own descendants were carried off for execution. Things that make you say… “Praise God for a closed door.”
Sometimes I think we do ourselves a disservice by only seeking God for open doors. We spend a lot of time praying and hoping for doors to open so we can do something, be something or have something we believe will improve our circumstances. In actuality, some of life’s greatest blessings come from doors that close.
That’s not to say closed doors don’t effect us. When a door slams in our face it can throw us off balance. We might feel rejected or disappointed. Closed doors definitely wound our emotions and ego. Nevertheless, a closed door can offer several benefits if we chose to search them out.
For example, closed doors helps us get focused. Nothing will grab your attention like a closed door. It forces us to evaluate and re-evaluate where we are and where we are going. It makes us take inventory of goals, assess our strengths and weaknesses, and rethink what we place value on.
Closed doors also can help us reduce the noise and clutter. Sometimes a closed door helps keeps out what doesn’t need to be in our life. It can keep us from unnecessary demands on our time, unproductive drama from unproductive people, or distraction that keep us from our true callings. Although we might think we need what’s behind the closed door, God knows what is best for us. He knows the things, people and situation that will steal our peace or compromise our relationship with him. He wants to keep us on the road that lead to his highest and best.
A closed door can also provide golden opportunities to mature and grow. An unexpected closed door can reveal where we don’t know or trust God. Feelings of anger, panic and regret simply expose where we don’t know a Savior at work on our behalf. In other words, closed doors are an opportunity to become more of who God intends us to be and less of what we think we have to be.
Closed doors can also remind us of God’s sovereign love. David’s story is just one illustration. But the Bible is filled with other stories of men and women who experienced one closed door after another, after another. In each situation, God was at work behind the scenes. He was directing, protecting and orchestrating. He was actively working, even growing them up so to speak. And preparing them for his divine purposes on the earth, to bring them to an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11).
There’s another type of closed door we might want to consider as well. But it means stepping up our game. It means running with the “spiritual thrill-seekers.” What I’m trying to say is, rather than waiting for doors to slam in our face, we can be proactive. We can seek God for wisdom and direction regarding doors we should just go ahead and close ourselves.
Seeking God in this way is a sign of spiritual maturity. It means we are growing in faith… that we are increasing in wisdom… that we have resigned from leaning on our own understanding. It also demonstrates that we have learned the secret of being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13). It proves we want God’s guidance concerning the issues, relationships, and ideas we need to let go of in order to move forward.
Fortunately, the Scriptures provide several areas we can focus. We can use God’s word as the guide to help us get started. A few things we can begin proactively closing the door on include:
- Comparing ourselves to others (or their situation, choices, accomplishments, etc)
- 2 Corinthians 10:12
- Time traveling (rehearsing the past or worrying about the future)
- Philippians 3:13
- Matthew 6:25-34
- Religious hoop-jumping
- Matthew 11:29-30
- Desiring empathy or sympathy from people
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
- The demand to be understood
- Psalm 139
- The need to be right
- Galatians 5:6
- Matthew 7:5
- Focusing on mistakes
- Romans 8:28
With the coming of a new year, a lot of people are searching and praying for open doors. Great if it happens. Fantastic if God makes a way. But in the midst of all the clamoring about open doors of opportunity, open doors of blessing and so on – let’s not forget that sometimes the greatest treasures come from doors that never open or doors we need to close ourselves.
Most important of all – no matter what side of the door you find yourself on – whether the inside or the outside, always remember that God is on your side. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. His love will be with you from the inner most to the utter most – door after door after door.
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:33