The online journal of Luke Dockery

“You Did Well That It Was In Your Heart”

After the death of King Saul, there is a struggle between David and Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, for the throne of Israel. With God’s support, David eventually wins out, things settle down, and everything seems to be okay.

But David isn’t happy. He isn’t happy because he realizes that while he lives in a nice, comfortable house made of cedar, the Ark of God is kept in a tent!
This doesn’t seem right to David, so he determines that he wants to build a temple for the Ark to be housed in. That sounds like a good idea, but God rejects his offer in 1 Chronicles 22.8-10:

“But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me. Behold a son will be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’”

Later, Solomon talks about his father’s desire to build a temple for God in 1 Kings 8.17-19:

“Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because 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 will be born to you, he will build the house for My name.’”

Did you catch that? God tells David, “You did well that it was in your heart.”

Even though David wasn’t going to be able to accomplish his goal of building the temple, God still appreciated and honored David’s intentions. Because he had been a man of war, David was told that he would not be the one to build a temple for the Lord—but God still appreciated that David had the desire to do so.

“It’s the thought that counts” is a common saying that we tend to throw around when we receive a gift we don’t like. It’s somewhat of an ironic saying, since often the reason we receive bad gifts is specifically because very little thought was put into it, but I think it’s still a true statement, and it’s basically what God tells David in this story: “It’s the thought that counts.”
By extension, this passage means that God cares about our intentions as well. And to me, as a Christian and as a minister, that is incredibly encouraging—while our actions certainly matter, the thoughts behind our actions matter as well. We can’t always control how things turn out, but we can control our intentions.
When we try to do something big for God, as David did, and we fail and our plans don’t pan out, I’m thankful to know that we have a God who says, “You did well that it was in your heart!”
I don’t know what your exact situation is…
  • Maybe you try to help a friend with a problem like substance abuse or financial or marital difficulties, but your assistance is refused…God looks at your “failure” and says, “You did well that it was in your heart!”
  • Maybe you try to influence others for good and try to be salt and light in the world, but your influence is ignored and they continue to embrace darkness…You did well that it was in your heart!
  • Maybe you’re a youth minister and you’ve got that teen who you’ve poured yourself into— teaching, going to athletic events, modeling the Christian life, praying for them and lying awake at night worrying about them—but they choose to follow the world…You did well that it was in your heart!
  • Maybe you try to share your faith with someone, perhaps a family member or close friend, but it simply falls on deaf ears…You did well that it was in your heart!
Realize that you are going to fail in life. Your results won’t always match up with your intentions and your plans. But our God is someone who sees our hearts and appreciates our best efforts. With that in mind, let us attempt great things for Him!


  1. Justin and Heather Bland

    Excellent post! Very encouraging. We definitely need to be hearing more of this – Satan has a way of twisting our failure to be utterly discouraging. The fact is we WILL fail and failure isnt necessarily a bad thing – it is how we learn and grow.

    Thanks again for the thoughts!

  2. Luke Dockery


    I think our culture has (a) turned “success” into a god and (b) defined “success” almost exclusively in terms of individual achievement.

    With that in mind, failure is always going to be incredibly disheartening, and something that Satan can use to cause us the question our purpose and self-worth.

    I’m so thankful for a God who loves me despite my failures and appreciates my intentions to do great things for him, regardless of how successful I am!

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