The heart of David

September 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Christianity | 1 Comment
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I’ve heard many times over the years how David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Any time the heart of God is mentioned, invariably you’ll hear about David as well. As I recall all that I’ve heard about David being a man after God’s own heart, I don’t seem to remember anyone really going into why he was this way. Usually, this sentiment is just stated as fact and the rest of the sermon is spent encouraging the listener to do everything necessary to be just like David was.

The problem is that without an understanding of what made David a man after God’s own heart, no one can do the things David did to be that way. All they are left with are shallow platitudes or “7 steps” that produce nothing more than a fuzzy feeling and certainly no lasting change. Often, when we think of David, we see the young man who was willing to face a giant of a man with a sling and a stone. Or, we see a king who was not where he should have been and ended up sinning against God by committing adultery and murdering a man to hide the sin. The first instance is usually used to inspire the youth in the church that they can do anything and the second is usually used to (sadly) soften the guilt and shame of sin. “If the king of Israel, a man after God’s own heart sinned and was still accepted by God, then the rest of us can be too!” I wonder what would happen if people actually took the time to look at David the way that scripture says he saw himself.

It’s often said that you can best tell what someone’s character is when they are in a horrible situation. It’s the whole tea bag in hot water cliché. During his life David found himself in a number of bad situations. From the lion and the bear, to the showdown with Goliath, to the numerous times that Saul (his father-in-law) tried to kill him, David faced tough times. And he faced them all the same way.  David was convinced that God would protect him and help him. He had faith that God would keep his promises. There is one time though that I think truly shows David’s heart and why God chose to call him a man after His own heart.

One year, while David was king, Israel was going off to war to fight the Ammonites (2 Sam. 11:1). There was one problem: David, the king of Israel, stayed behind in Jerusalem when he should have been with his army fighting. Evening came and David walked along the roof of his house. While he was walking he saw a beautiful woman bathing. David asked about the woman and was told that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite (who was one of David’s mighty men).  He sent for her, and proceeded to commit adultery with her. Not long after, she told the king that she was pregnant. David sent for Uriah and tried everything that he could think of to get the man to spend the night with his wife, but Uriah was too noble for that. He wouldn’t do that while his brethren were fighting a war. David even went to the point of getting him drunk and Uriah still wouldn’t do it. Finally, David sent Uriah back to the war with a note to Joab, the commander of the army. Sadly, Uriah didn’t realize that he was carrying his own death sentence. The note was a plan to make sure that Uriah was killed in an attack on the Ammonites. After Bathsheba heard about her husband’s death, she mourned for the appropriate time and then the king took her as his own wife. Shortly thereafter, the prophet Nathan came to David and told him a parable about a rich man who had many sheep and took the only ewe lamb of a poor man to use in a feast for a guest. David was outraged…until Nathan told him that he was that man. God, through Nathan reminded David of all the He had done and all that He promised him. He also told the king what would happen because of his sin. When David heard all of this, he immediately repented of his sin. But David’s sin would still have consequences. The child that Bathsheba was carrying would die because of the sin David committed.

This is a sad tragedy in the life of any man or woman. And it should always be remembered that this is the result of man’s sin. But we’re looking at the character of David and why he was a man after God’s own heart. As most people know, David wrote many of the Psalms. He poured out his heart and soul into them and expressed everything that he was feeling. In Psalm 51, we see his response to his sin with Bathsheba and get a window into the character of a man that we are always encouraged to be more like:

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices. In burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.

As soon as David was confronted with his sin, he repented. He saw things for what they were and took the steps he needed to take to be reconciled with God. This was only possible because David knew some things that allowed him to come before God correctly and allowed God to immediately say (through Nathan) that his sin was forgiven.

First, David understood himself. He knew that he was a sinful man from conception. He knew that if he were left to himself, he would constantly rebel against God because of the man that he was. Instead of expressing his own goodness and trying to make himself feel good about who he was and what he was doing, he was truthful. He knew that there is nothing good in him.

The next thing that helped David was the fact that he understood sin. He knew that sin was ultimately against God and Him alone. While certain sins may involve other people (willingly or unknowingly); all sin is an open rebellion against God. It is a full frontal assault on His character and nature by His own creation. Sin has been man’s doing from the beginning and will continue to be so until all is said and done.  David also understood his need to be cleansed from sin. He knew that he couldn’t be reconciled without having his sin removed. This (along with other Psalms) also shows that David understood the truth about the Messiah and the Christ’s role in the salvation of men. David’s understanding of sin also includes the knowledge of what sin does to us and our relationship with God.

David also understood God. Look at how much David focuses on God and His character. He knows that God is gracious, merciful, and compassionate (v. 1) in the act of removing sins. He understands that God is able (and willing!) to wash him of his sins. Not only that, but David understands that God is completely right in what He says and blameless when He judges sin. David understood that God IS moral perfection and therefore His judgments against sin are also perfect. We may not understand them, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t correct. David didn’t just see God as the Judge though. He also saw Him as the One who could restore him and create a clean heart in him. He saw Him as the One who could renew his spirit and create a clean heart in him. David longed for God and it shows. He didn’t want God to take away His Holy Spirit or cast him away from His presence. It wasn’t only about what God could do for him, it was about God Himself. He knew that the Law had its purpose but that the Law didn’t satisfy God and neither did the sacrifices of bulls and goats. He understood what God desired from man and what would allow man to be cleansed of his sin and restored to God. But, there is one more thing that he knew and it is this that I believe truly shows David as being a man after God’s own heart.

David wasn’t just concerned about himself! He didn’t focus on just his own trouble, he was concerned about others. He tells the Lord that when he is cleansed he will teach other sinners the ways of God and they will be converted to Him. That is the heart of God. While He knows that men will sin and that many will reject the free gift of salvation offered through Jesus Christ, it is not His wish that any perish but that all come to repentance. David understands the need for those who do know Christ to go out and tell others who don’t know about Him the truth of the gospel and what truly saves men from their sins.

While all of this is interesting and it’s wonderful to see what scripture says, now comes the hard part. Are you like David? Do you truly understand yourself? Do you recognize that you are a wretched sinful person who needs a Savior daily? If you’ve been saved, do you understand where you (should) stand in regards to sin? Do you stand there? Do you understand that sin, transgression of the Law (Ten Commandments) is a horrible action worthy of death and hell in the sight of God? Do you understand that if you die without your sins being paid for that you will find yourself in hell for eternity? Do you understand your need to be cleansed from your sin and that the only One that can do this is God Himself? Do you understand who God is? Do you see Him as the just Judge of the entire universe or is He just some “doting Daddy” who has no backbone or gives in to everything (which is idolatry, by the way). Do you understand that He is angry at sin and that His wrath abides on those who practice it? Do you understand that there is nothing that you can do in and of yourself to bring about your own salvation? Do you understand that God is holy, just, righteous, and perfect and expects the same from those who follow Him? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be that way, even if it means changing or letting go of friends, family, or objects that God shows? Do you long for God like David did, wanting Him and His Word more than anything else in existence? Does it concern you that others around you may be on their way to hell because their sins aren’t forgiven? Does the plight of others concern you so much that you are willing to do whatever you can to tell them the truth of the gospel, even if it means going out and witnessing to others; teaching them the ways of the Lord? Or, are you content to just sit back and pray that someone else does it because you’re too shy or it just won’t come out right or you don’t know enough (which are all cop outs by the way)? Is the comfort of your own salvation keeping you from being a laborer working to see souls saved from an eternal hell?

This is not something to be taken lightly. The Bible makes it clear that we only have on chance on the earth and that none of us are promised tomorrow. What are you doing? Are you a man/woman after God’s own heart? Are you someone who sees and understands God, sin, yourself and the need of others to be saved? If you are, and you are going out into the world proclaiming the true gospel of Jesus Christ, then let me both commend and encourage you. Do not give up the fight! It is vital to those you are witnessing to that you continue even when things get hard. If you understand these things and you are not going out to tell others, then please consider what you are doing. You are basically keeping what other need to yourself. Instead of giving them the one answer that will help them escape the wrath of God and the eternal punishment for sin, you are turning a blind eye to them. Can you honestly say that you love them? If you do not understand these things at all, then you need to look at your life and make sure that you are saved. Have you repented of your sins? When? How do you know? Does you life look differently now? If you haven’t repented – why? What makes you think you’re a Christian if you haven’t repented? This is a literal life and death situation and each of us holds the key in our own hands. Either we will see ourselves in truth and run to the One who can save us, repenting of our sins and putting our trust in Him alone; or we will continue to delude ourselves into thinking that we’re ok and we don’t need saving, eventually causing us to go straight to hell.

Who’s heart are you after?

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  1. Very inspiring post! It is important that we follow after God’s heart. We should do things in accordance with His words. Instead of expecting everything to be perfect, we should set our goals for more realistic expectations in order for us to be happier and less stressful.

    http://growingwithtruth.com/blog/50/letting-go-of-perfection/


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