Shepherd boy, mighty warrior, musician, poet, sinner, saint. These words all describe King David, yet he will always be known best as 'a man after God's own heart.” What was there about David's heart that distinguished him from his contemporaries, setting him apart as God's man, a man in whom God chose to confide, sharing both His secrets and times of intimate communion (Ps. 25:14)? What did God see when He looked at David's heart? How do we become a man or woman after God's own heart?
Like David, our heart's response to God will determine whether God sees us as a man or woman after His own heart.
Let's examine David's heart.
A Believing Heart
David had a believing heart. He wrote, 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1, NASB). David recognized his need for God; he admitted his dependence on God to provide for him and to watch over him, much as David did for the sheep under his care. He continued, 'He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters” (Ps. 23:2, NASB). David knew quietness of heart and the spiritual rest that comes from being right with God. Solitude afforded David both time and opportunity to worship, pray, and meditate on the Lord.
A Bold Heart
David also had a bold heart, trusting God would deliver what He promised. He faced his Goliath, focusing not on the enormity of the enemy before him but on the promise and power of His God. As he stood before Goliath, he said, ''You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty'” (1 Sam. 17:45). Obstacles did not deter David.
What Goliaths do you face? Like David, do you trust God to defeat the giants in your life? Are you applying the weapons of God's Word and prayer to defeat the power of the enemy in your life?
An Inquiring Heart
David actively sought God's will for his life. Repeatedly, we read these words, 'David inquired of the LORD” (1 Sam. 23:4; 1 Sam. 30:8; 2 Sam. 2:1; 2 Sam. 5:19,23; 1 Chron. 14:10, NASB). With humility of heart, he brought every decision before the Lord in prayer, waiting for God's leading and direction before acting.
David accepted God's 'no” as graciously as he accepted His 'yes.” When God spoke through the prophet Nathan that Solomon was to build the temple rather than David, David bowed his knee and his heart, acknowledging God's sovereignty (2 Sam. 7:18-19).
A Repentant Heart
Despite David's heart for God, he failed miserably when faced with temptation, choosing the passing pleasures of sin over obedience to God. We read these fateful words, 'In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, . . . David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Sam. 11:1, NIV). As we continue reading, we learn of David's adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, his lying, and the murder of Uriah the Hittite. Through all of this, David failed to keep one thing in mind: 'The thing David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Sam. 11:27, NIV).
When confronted with his sin by Nathan the prophet, David humbled himself under God's mighty hand, and acknowledged, ''I have sinned against the LORD'” (2 Sam. 12:13, NIV). He repented, writing in Psalm 51:10, 'Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (NIV).
Though David faced the consequences of his sin for many years to come, he humbly bowed his knee under God's sovereignty and continued in praise, worship, and devotion to his God.
God still seeks those whose heart is completely His. Scripture tells us, 'The eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chron. 16:9, NASB).
Charles Swindoll, in his book David: A Man of Passion and Destiny, explains, God 'is looking for men and women whose hearts are completely His—completely. That means there are no locked closets. Nothing's been swept under the rugs. That means when you do wrong, you admit it and immediately come to terms with it. You're grieved over wrong. You're concerned about those things that displease Him. You long to please Him in your actions. You care about the motivations behind your actions” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000; 10-11).
What motivates you? Are you jealous for God's glory? Do you desire Him above all things?
What joy to know that, like David, we can become men and women after God's own heart. The Bible says, 'God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7, NASB).
What does God see when He looks at your heart?