Why was David a “man after God's own heart?”
Why would God consider David a man after God’s own heart when in time, he was guilty of murder?
The beginning of the answer starts in 1 Samuel 13:1-18 where we discover that Saul had violated God’s commandment doing as his own heart desired. A battle with the Philistines was about to occur, and Saul wanted the blessing of the God upon his troops. The prophet Samuel did not come at the expected time, so Saul decided to present a burnt offering to the Lord on his own rather than wait for the prophet. When the prophet arrived, Samuel asked Saul, “What have you done?” In verse 12 we discover that Saul told the prophet Samuel that he had “forced himself” to offer a burnt offering. It was a lie. Saul had purposefully decided to take that action of offering a sacrifice that was to be done only by the priests.
. . . therefore I said, “Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.” So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering. (NASB) 1 Samuel 13:12
As a result, the prophet Samuel told him that his kingdom would eventually be removed from him. He was a self-willed individual who ignored God’s wishes. He was not a man after God’s own heart. That is, Saul did not desire to please God by obeying Him.
Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” (NASB) 1 Samuel 13:13-14
So Samuel added that God was looking for a man after His own heart, and he would be the new ruler over Israel. Saul’s days as king over Israel were to come to an end. Who had God selected to be the next ruler? The name of the man was David.
God looks at a man’s heart and not at the outward appearance. God is not fooled by our actions or words. God had looked at Saul’s heart and rejected him. God had looked at David’s heart and chosen him.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (NASB) 1 Samuel 16:7
Some time later God sent Samuel to Jesse the Bethlehemite to find the next king from among his sons.
Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.” (NASB) 1 Samuel 16:1
When Samuel arrived, he was impressed with several of the sons of Jesse. But God did not want them. Finally, God directed him to select the youngest son, David.
Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. (NASB) 1 Samuel 16:10-13
God told Samuel that He was looking for a man after His own heart. Later Samuel was directed to select David to be the next king. This means that David was a “man after God’s own heart.” Many of the Psalms were written by David. They reveal that David did have a passion for God. David wanted to know God. The first part of Psalm 42 makes this obvious,
As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? (NASB) Ps. 42:1-2
Psalm 32 reveals David’s repentance and sorrow over his sin. David was a man who grieved over his sin and longed to know God with a deep passion. David was a man who desired to be holy and to be like God. He was a man after God’s own heart because these are the things that God desires for us.
Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. (NASB) Jer. 9:23-24
. . . be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (NASB) 1Pet. 1:15-16
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. (NASB) 1 John 3:23
David desired to be holy and he longed to know God. These are the marks of man or woman after God’s own heart!
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Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me . . . Jeremiah 9:23-24
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