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David – A Man After God’s Heart
Today, we’re continuing in our series on faith by looking at the faith of our forefathers. And, if you haven’t noticed by now, I am usually in the Psalms and quoting from King David a lot, and so I thought that David would be the natural one to follow Abraham whom we looked at last week.
God teaches us a lot about faith through the lives of these men and women who are listed in what is known as God’s Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11. And even though David is given less than a casual mention, that is, only his name is given, he is mentioned more often than anyone else in the Bible.
There’s a story about this guy walked into the local library and said, “I have a complaint.”
• What is it,” the librarian replied.
• “The book I got here last week was terrible,” the man said.
• “What’s wrong with it?” the librarian queried.
• “The book just seems to go on and on. It has way to many characters, and there is no plot whatsoever.”
• “Oh,” replied the librarian, “You must be the one who stole our phonebook.”
If we think we’ve got it all together, then we need to think again, because we don’t. That’s why God has put these people in His Hall of Faith to give us practical examples of how we can live our lives by the kind of faith that pleases Him.
Now, we can see what God thought about David’s faith through David’s heart.
In the book of Acts the Lord says, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after My own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22b NIV)
David understood that he was a servant, even though he was a king. In fact, what I find fascinating is that when we think about David, we think of him as King David, or we remember the Bible saying that he is a man after God’s own heart. But God referred to David more often as, “My servant.”
This is probably the most important title that anyone can have, that is, “A servant of God,” because it describes who we were created to be.
David knew that he was under submission to the Lord, and what we often see in the Old Testament when it talks about David is how often he continued to go to God. Whatever situation David found himself in, he would go to God and find out what to do.
Being a servant is something that we see concerning Jesus. He is the ultimate example of what our identity should be. And Jesus did this in a dramatic fashion when on the night he was betrayed took a bowl of water and washed the disciples’ feet. This was the position of the lowest servant in the household. And this is the position Jesus took upon Himself, and then He said, “What you have seen Me do, go do likewise.”
God has created us to be servants and to serve His purposes for our generation. In one of my life verses, it speaks of David as just that.
“After David had served his generation according to the will of God, he died and was buried.” (Acts 13:36 NLT)
So, the purpose of our lives is to serve God’s purposes. And to serve His purposes we need to live a life of faith, like David. And that life began in David’s heart, and it’s the kind of heart we need to live our lives by, because this is a life that pleases God the most.
Now, to get the full measure of what the Lord is saying about David’s heart, we need to realize that God was in essence comparing David’s heart to that of King Saul’s heart. So, let’s look at the complete Scripture verse.
“After removing Saul, He made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” (Acts 13:22 NIV)
Saul was a man rejected by God as being king, while David was a man who would reign with God’s anointing, and David was the predecessor to the Messiah, Jesus. But why did God reject Saul and anoint David. What sins did Saul commit that caused him to fall from grace, while David ruled with God’s blessing, even though it seemed he committed more sins?
In the end, I guess the question should be, what does it take to be a person after God’s own heart and to have a faith that is pleasing to Him?
The difference was in their heart. Saul sinned because in his heart he sought after his own benefit and to please himself. Whereas David, despite his many sins, had a heart to please God, and not himself.
Despite struggling with all these personal faults and sins, David’s desire was to serve God, and this is what set him apart, and that’s probably why he is mentioned more than any other person in the Bible.
Now, there are many others that could be described as having a heart after God, such as Joseph, Joshua, Daniel, and Paul. But it was David that God designated as a man after His own heart, and that’s because despite of his many sins, he always managed to seek after God.
David was a man after God’s own heart, because he ruled the people according to God’s way, that is, according to His word.
Saul, on the other hand didn’t follow God’s law or the prophets, and while he ruled as king, he failed to follow God’s kingdom principles.
It was David’s heart that caused God to discipline him, rather than reject him like He did Saul. And David was disciplined quite severely at times, but God was able to use him mightily because his heart. And so, when God chose David, what was it about David’s heart that God recognized?
Today, we’re going to be looking at some heart characteristics that David possessed as compared to the characteristics of Saul’s heart.
A Trusting Heart
David learned to trust God as a boy as he shepherded his father’s flocks. Little by little he had taken on greater challenges. He was so protective of his flock that he was willing to take on a lion and a bear to save them. Therefore, when it came to Goliath, he didn’t cower in fear like the rest of Israel, because he feared and trusted only God.
When David gets to the camp and sees what is going on, he is incensed at Goliath’s words and the people’s lack of response and outrage to these words. And so, David said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
When his statement was brought to king Saul, Saul wanted to see him, and seeing that David was still a boy, not even old enough to join the army, he said to David,
“You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” (1 Samuel 17:33 NIV)
After telling Saul of his exploits of killing a lion and a bear protecting his father’s sheep, David said,
“Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:36 NIV)
David feared God, not man, but this was not the case regarding Saul. Earlier in Saul’s reign he offered up a sacrifice to God, not because he feared God, but rather he feared man.
Saul had called Israel together at Gilgal to fight the Philistines who were much stronger and better armed. Unfortunately, the prophet Samuel was late in coming to offer the sacrifice, and so Saul’s army began deserting in record numbers. Therefore, Saul did what God commanded only the Levites to do, that is, he offer the sacrifices to God. As soon as he had finished, Samuel arrived and said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw the men scattering from me and you didn’t come, I felt compelled to offer the sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 13:11 NIV)
Samuel rebuked Saul for his foolishness, and for not following God’s law, therefore Saul’s linage would now never be established upon the throne. And instead, God had sought someone else whose heart would be fully after His.
Later, Saul disobeyed God’s direct instructions and spared the king of the Amalekites and allowed the men to take part of the plunder. When the prophet Samuel again confronted him, look at what Saul said.
“I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.” (1 Samuel 15:24 NIV)
Saul did not possess a trusting heart for the things of God and of His word. He feared others more than the Lord. David’s trust in God, however, had been built over years of shepherding. He faced challenges and trusted God to help him rather than fearing the danger. And on each occasion, his faith was built to where he could face the greater challenge, and that was Goliath.
How are we dealing with the challenges we face? Do we trust in God to give us the victory? If we can’t do this in the normal everyday occurrences of life, then how can we ever expect to face the Goliath sized problems that come our way?
Jesus knew how to trust in the Father and not to fear man. He wasn’t afraid of upsetting the religious establishment. And so, He took on the religious leaders of that day, and won. And then He took on the greatest Goliath of them all, death, and won the victory for all of us.
And so, if we want a heart like God’s, then we must start to take a stand for God, for His word, and have that trusting heart.
A Humble Heart
David had a humble servant’s heart. David had learned the art of humility and servanthood. The prophet Samuel had come to town and had invited David’s father, Jesse, and his family to a sacrifice. This was a great honor for the family, and too great to pass up. And as Jesse paraded each of his seven sons before Samuel, David not included, none of them passed the test.
Samuel thought, surely one of these boys is Israel’s future king, but God said, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV)
And so, Samuel was perplexed, none of Jesse’s sons he had presented was chosen by God, so out of the blue he asked, “Are these all your boys?” To which Jesse replied, “There’s one left, but he’s out keeping the sheep.” In other words, he’s too young, or he’s just not up to snuff like his brothers. But Samuel called for him to be present. And when Samuel saw David the Lord said, “anoint him, because he’s the one.”
Being a shepherd was more in David’s wheelhouse, whereas seeking personal honor wasn’t. We see this repeatedly in David. After defeating Goliath and earning the right to marry Saul’s daughter, David didn’t feel worthy to become King Saul’s son-in-law.
He said, “Who am I, and what is my family or my father’s clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law… I’m only a poor man and little known.” (1 Samuel 18:18, 23b NIV)
David knew that he was nothing and that God was everything. He knew that it was not his ability that won the day, but that it was the Lord’s, which is what he told Goliath. He said, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:25 NKJV)
Saul on the other hand acted out of pride and what he could gain. When he attacked the Amalekites, he wanted the plunder for himself, and instead of being obedient and destroying everything, as God had commanded, he kept the best. In fact, he even set up a statue or monument in his own honor for the victory (1 Samuel 15:12).
And the Lord said to Samuel, “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” (1 Samuel 15:11 NIV)
How different are the attitudes of David and Saul? But before we are too quick to judge Saul, whose attitude fits us the best, Saul’s or David’s? What’s behind our motives, is what we do for our own personal gain or is it for serving God?
Our primary motive in everything we do should be to serve God. David, when he was serving King Saul, didn’t leave when times got tough, he only left when he had no choice. Even after Saul tried to kill David, David came back, because God had sent him to serve.
To have a heart after God’s then we need to serve Him wherever He places us, and to have a humble heart to serve Him by serving others.
A Repentant Heart
David willing confessed and repented of his sins. And David committed some pretty serious sins, which according to the Law he should have been put to death. In the case of his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, that called for death, as did his intentional murder of her husband, Uriah, in the field of battle.
When confronted with his sins, however, David confessed and accepted the God’s discipline. David accepted responsibility for his actions and turned away from his sin and turned toward God. Never again to you see him sin in this manner.
David also took a census of the fighting men of Israel, which God’s word expressly says is a no-no. David confesses his sin and repents, and when offered three different types of punishments as a consequence, he asked to fall into the merciful hands of God.
Seeing the death of his fellow countrymen because of his sin, David pleads with God to stop the plague and offers to God a sacrifice. When the owner of the field, where David was to offer the sacrifice, tried to give to David all that he needed and not worry about paying him for it, David said, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24 NKJV)
David doesn’t make excuses for his sin, He simply confesses and turns away from them, accepting the blame and throwing himself upon the mercy of God. This is a heart that is after God.
Saul, however, when confronted by Samuel, he tries to blame Samuel for being late along with other excuses. When he failed to destroy the Amalekites, he first tries to make Samuel believe he has fully carried out his instructions with this one exception. Then he tried to say that he was only saving the best for God. And when this excuse didn’t hold up, he blamed his troops.
Saul never took or accepted responsibility for his own actions, for his own sins. Saul never repented and never admitted his sins.
David, however, demonstrates for us a heart that is for God in his desire to confess and repent and to live a life of holiness.
The Bible says, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 NIV)
The Apostle John said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)
To confess means more than merely saying “I’m sorry.” The word means that we are agreeing with God about our sins. We must see the seriousness of sin from God’s perspective. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. And so, sin is a rejection of God, and unrepentant sinners stand under the judgment of God.
But once we agree with God about the seriousness of sin, and about our own sin, then like He did with David, God will forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is what David knew, which is why he cried out to God these words when he repented of his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51:1-3 NIV)
What is our attitude towards sin? Do we throw ourselves into the hands of a merciful God, or do we try to hide and justify it? We all stand in need of repentance, but many say, “Well, it really wasn’t all that bad, and I’m just as good as the next person.” Can I just say that this doesn’t work, especially when we see that the next person isn’t all that good!
Instead, we need godly sorrow followed by a repentant heart. It is only when we stop kidding ourselves, and justifying our sins, that we can truly have a heart that is after God’s heart.
And if we have any trouble seeing the seriousness of sin, we just need to look at what Jesus suffered upon the cross realizing that He died for our sins. This should make us realize the high cost of sin. So, let’s not wallow in our sin, instead let’s confess it and repent, that is, turn away from it. That is what David did and why David had a heart after God’s.
A Yielded Heart
David knew which battles to fight, because he knew that these battles weren’t about him, but about God’s honor. When David heard Goliath’s challenge, he knew that this was a battle that needed fighting. His brothers rebuked him saying his motives were personal.
But David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause.” (1 Samuel 17:29 NKJV)
Throughout David’s life, he yielded to God and to God’s causes. We see this when he spared Nabal’s life when he disrespected David and his men. He spared Saul’s life when he could have easily killed him. He could have had Shimei killed for cursing him and his army. But in all these incidences David yielded himself to God’s will, rather than taking matters into his own hands.
Saul, however, didn’t know friend from foe, or God’s causes from his own. Instead of destroying everything of the Amalekites, he spared the best for himself. Also, Saul’s jealousy of David caused him to fight against one of God’s defenders.
A person who seeks after the heart of God must be yielded to God’s will and fight His battles and not their own.
Paul tells us that we are to contend for the faith (Philippians 1:27), and to his protégé Timothy he gives this advice.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV)
David had a heart after God’s own heart because he trusted God rather than fearing man. He walked in humility rather than in pride. He willingly confessed and repented of his sin rather than making excuses and rationalizations. And finally, he yielded to God’s will and fought God’s battles and not his own.
Until we start to have that kind of a heart, we’ll never make a positive impact in our home, church, workplace, or community. What we need to realize is that this type of faith, and this type of heart, doesn’t come easy, but it will be productive.
We are living in a dying world, and more and more people are finding themselves in distress, in debt, and generally discontented with life. But, when we start living our lives by faith having a heart that is after God’s own heart then like David, we’ll draw people from out of this lost and dying world, and into an everlasting life in heaven.
So, let’s seek to be men and women of faith: men and women after God’s own heart.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study