A Man after God’s Heart

Acts 13:22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’

There is a phrase that is often used for someone who is known for following closely to the Lord, “A man after God’s own Heart”. The reference made concerning David is one of a man who desired to do the Will of God. David is one of the greatest examples of what God can do through a man who trusts in Him. What I always wanted to understand was how David got this label when so many other men have been faithful?

*Let’s examine David’s life for a moment, it may give us some clues as to how we might follow in his footsteps.

Starting from Nothing

As a young boy, David was handsome and a bit ruddy, I suppose tending sheep will do that to you. A shepherd in those days was a fairly low position to hold in society. Walking along in the wilderness and driving a sheep herd just wasn’t considered all that glamorous. When Samuel came calling, all of Jesse’s boys lined up before the prophet. At the time, King Saul had forsaken God’s counsel and began looking to his own wisdom in leading Israel. Saul was asking for direction from soothsayers and his rebellion was beginning to overtake him. The Lord had planned on taking the throne from Saul and so God purposed for the next King to come from the line of Jesse.

As Samuel traveled to anoint the next King, the Lord reminded him of how He sees a man:

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

We see the first indication of what made David special

*A Man after God’s own heart is upright before Him.

We see the test of David’s heart shortly after Samuel anointed him as a future king. Saul and his army were in a battle against a coastal nation called the Philistines. This battle sight placed the Israelis on one side of the valley of Elah and the philistines on the other side of the valley. This standoff was one that had lasted a few months so David was tasked with delivering food and supplies to his brothers fighting in the battle. David was sent to deliver cheese and bread for his brothers (which some have mentioned he could have been the first pizza delivery guy), and upon his arrival he realized a predicament was beginning to unfold.

Goliath was the greatest warrior the Philistines had in their ranks, standing close to 8 feet tall, the man was sure to be an imposing figure. King Saul, as well as every man in the Israel’s ranks was fearful of Goliath, he had been going out for 40 straight days mocking them. When David showed up he saw this as more than just Goliath looking for a fight, he recognized this man was challenging God’s authority.

1 Samuel 17:26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

The courage of David was on full display the moment he came into the camp. You see, David had to fight off bears and lions in the Judean wilderness with just a sling.

1 Samuel 17:37 “David added, “The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Then, with this statement, Saul gave his approval and said “Go, and may the LORD be with you.”

After a failed attempt to fit David with Saul’s armor, David simply took his sling and ran up the short Valley of Elah to what many thought was his death. As Goliath bore witness of who Saul had sent to fight him, he was outraged.

When the Philistine looked and saw David, he despised him because he was just a boy, ruddy and handsome. “Am I a dog,” he said to David, “that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he called to David, “and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”

David’s response is one of legend…

But David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand. This day I will strike you down, cut off your head, and give the carcasses of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the creatures of the earth. Then the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. And all those assembled here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.”

It was a short fight….Goliath didn’t stand a chance. The courage of a boy who was protected by the power of God was more than a giant could endure. After picking up 5 smooth stones, David hurled the stone into the forehead of Goliath and the giant fell. David took Goliath’s sword, removed his head, and showed both armies who the next King of Israel was going to be.

*A man after God’s own heart trusts in the Lord.

As David grew, he began to prosper. Later, he was fighting alongside Saul and consequently having more success and the courage of David inspired the people of Israel to compose a song, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” The song didn’t go over well with a king who was more interested in his own affairs that in trusting in the Lord. Saul began to make attempts on David’s life and David realized very quickly that he needed to flee from Saul’s presence until God fully appointed him as king.

After a period of time living in the land of the philistines, David dwelled in the wilderness with a small band of followers. He began to travel from one region to the next in caves and fields while Saul hunted him down to destroy the man he deemed a threat toward his throne.

Saul had become a madman, killing the priests of the Lord at Nob and looking for conspiracies everywhere, including his own family, Saul’s desire to murder David became more insatiable by the day.

From David’s camp, we see a different story unfolding. As Saul grew more distant from the Lord each day, David grew closer. It was not uncommon to see the phrase , “So David inquired of the LORD,” before another move of obedience he was about to make. You see, although David was to be king, he took his marching orders from the KING OF KINGS.

*A man after God’s own heart seeks God’s will.

The Lord was continually protecting David. When Saul would draw near to David’s position, some news or event would change his course and he would miss his mark once again.

When David fled with his men to En Gedi, the news returned to Saul of David’s whereabouts. Having been to En Gedi myself, the rock strewn canyon and rugged cliffs are imposing in their own right. The fresh spring water that originates in that region would have drawn David and his men, regardless of the entrapment they placed themselves in.

Saul took 3000 men and went to look for David in this canyon region. The story picks up in 1 Samuel 24:3-4:

“Soon Saul came to the sheepfolds along the road, where there was a cave, and he went in to relieve himself. And David and his men were hiding in the recesses of the cave. So David’s men said to him, “This is the day about which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do with him as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up secretly and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Soon after, David’s conscience began to get the best of him:

“So he said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed. May I never lift my hand against him, since he is the LORD’s anointed. With these words David restrained his men, and he did not let them rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and went on his way.

*A man after God’s own heart honor’s the Lord first in all he does.

David had a conscience to respect the one whom God had placed on the throne. Even though David was the heir apparent, it wasn’t tasked to David to remove Saul from the position God had placed him in, this was God’s role alone.

After that, David got up, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!”

When Saul looked behind him, David bowed face down in reverence and said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Look, David intends to harm you’? Behold, this day you have seen with your own eyes that the LORD delivered you into my hand in the cave. I was told to kill you, but I spared you and said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my lord, since he is the LORD’s anointed.’

Saul was grieved that day, his realization that David was twice the man he was became all too apparent. His response:  “You are more righteous than I, for you have rewarded me with good, though I have rewarded you with evil.” 

*A man of God lives Righteously

As David grew in stature, his legend grew with him. By living according to God’s laws, the Lord blessed him and protected him.

When David needed help from a local leader named Nabal, he was treated with evil. David had been protecting Nabal’s herds and all he wanted was to refresh his supplies. Nabal’s wife Abigail was a woman of wisdom and she kept David from destroying Nabal and all he owned. Upon hearing of his close call with death, Nabal had a heart attack and fell ill…then the Lord struck him down.

In 1 Samuel 25 we see David’s response: “On hearing that Nabal was dead, David said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has upheld my cause against the reproach of Nabal and has restrained His servant from evil. For the LORD has brought the wickedness of Nabal down upon his own head.”

*A man of God does not take vengeance upon his enemies.

After Nabal’s death, David took Abigail to be his wife. This was a way for David to honor her for her faithfulness and this was a lesson David too soon forgot.

Years later, after David had become king, he arose one night and gazed out over the city. Upon watching a young woman bathe on her housetop, David’s heart was filled with lust and summoned her to his quarters. Bathsheba was a married woman and David’s sin was exacerbated by the fact she soon was found pregnant. The man she was married to was a man of valor and intense loyalty to the nation. Uriah was summoned by David to come back from the battle and enjoy some rest with his wife. David’s hopes of enticing Uriah to sleep with his wife and thinking he impregnated her were foiled by Uriah’s desire to remain faithful to his men. After this, David devised a plan to have Uriah murdered in battle.

The lust was followed by an adulterous encounter, which led to murder and undoubtedly a loss of respect by everyone who witnessed this encounter.

What we see next is a very good example by Nathan the prophet in how to approach a man of God who has sinned.

2 Samuel 12:1-4 “Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

David’s response to the prophet was reflective of his knowledge of God’s laws.

So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! 

Nathan shared with David all that the Lord was planning on doing to take vengeance against David, including the loss of the child. David’s response was honest and sincere:

So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

David recognized that he had not only offended everyone around him, he ultimately had sinned against the Lord.

*A man of God owns up to his mistakes.

Because of David’s repentance, God relented in killing David. The effects of David’s sin carried with him for the rest of his life. His children rebelled, lust became prominent within his own household and trouble followed him the rest of his life.

God may forgive us of our sins but he doesn’t erase the effects of sin. The shame can be a measure that God uses to refine, the reminder may give us the humility we need going forward, and the ability to know our weaknesses may strengthen us to not repeat them later on.

David, a man after God’s own heart, had his share of failures as a father but it is not the failures that God measures a man or woman by, it is the heart of the one He looks upon that brings this honor.

God blessed David and gave him this promise: “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”

How did God accomplish this?

Jesus, the King of King’s came through the lineage of David and Bathsheba and assumed the role of King forever.

Do you desire to have a heart that God honors? Seek Him first and your heart will follow, He is the One who will change it. The Spirit of God fills the hearts of all who believe and sanctifies His people for His own glory.

We all have the opportunity to establish a godly heritage…the question is whether we will trust God for it?

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