By Dena Johnson Martin, Crosswalk.com
After removing Saul, he made David their king. God 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
David was known as a man after God’s own heart.
The man who lusted after Bathsheba. Committed adultery. Murdered the husband of her lover.
And yet this man, with all of his failures, is known as a man after God’s own heart.
My first question becomes how does this apply to us as believers today? It means that no matter what the failures in our past, our futures are unlimited with God. He doesn’t see the multitude of sins. He doesn’t label us with our failures. He looks at our hearts. He knows our intentions. He knows how we long to serve Him, even if we mess up. We should never let our past mistakes color our futures when we are with God.
My next question is what characteristics did David possess that made him a man after God’s own heart? Whatever they are, I want to possess them too. I want my heart to be pure, fully devoted to God. I want God to one day say, “Dena was a woman after my own heart.”
Here are a few characteristics that I see in God’s life that I pray will characterize my life.
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. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Psalm 51:1-4
David messed up when he took Bathsheba. He was a wretched sinner, just like you and me. But what made David pure is his brokenness over his sin, his devastation over his failures before God.
The entire 51st Psalm is one of repentance, of brokenness over David’s sin. I can just see him as he sits down before God and begins to pour out his heart. The words fall from his mouth as the tears stream down his face. He is completely torn up over his actions, over the fact he failed the One who has elevated him to a place of honor before man.
I know I have seen the ugliness of my heart, and I find myself on my face before God seeking His forgiveness—a gift He is always willing to give. Perhaps we all need to take the time to allow God to search us and try us and see if there be any wickedness within us a little more often—just so we can have the sweet gift of having His mercy poured out over us.
Mercy on his enemies
The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders. 2 Samuel 18:5
David was a warrior. He knew how to fight a battle and utterly destroy his enemies. He had done it often, always with God’s direction.
But he also knew how to show mercy to his enemies. David’s son, Absalom, attempted to overthrow his father’s kingdom. It would have been justifiable under the circumstances for David to destroy his enemy, but he begged his men to show mercy on Absalom.
It wasn’t just his son, however. Remember when Saul was hunting down David, attempting to kill him to protect the kingdom for his own dynasty? David had multiple opportunities to kill Saul, and yet he respected the office. He respected that God had placed Saul in command, and he refused to hurt King Saul.
It stands to reason that David understood everything He had came from God. He trusted God to keep His word, in His time. He did not allow anger and bitterness to eat away at His heart. Instead, he left it all in God’s hands.
David sent out his troops, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.”
But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us.[a] It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.” 2 Samuel 18:2-3
David knew his position and everything he had was a direct gift, a blessing, from the God of Israel. He didn’t allow his fame or his success or his wealth to become a source of pride. He knew that God could—at any given time—rip everything away from him and give the blessings to someone else.
And because of this truth, David was a humble man.
David could go directly to God and find direction. David could rely on his own wisdom to lead the nation of Israel. He could have done anything he wanted.
Yet, he knew that the best thing he could do was seek the advice of godly advisors—and follow it. He listened to the men of wisdom who surrounded him. He allowed humility to be a trait that oozed from his heart, a hear that was fully devoted to God.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. Psalm 84:10
David’s heart was fully devoted to God in all he said and in all he did. Serving God—no matter how lowly the position—was the best gift he could imagine. There was no place he wanted to be more than in the presence of the Father.
What about you? Is being in your Father’s presence your favorite place to be? Does your heart thrill as you walk into a room filled with praises lifted to Him? Do you find yourself longing to lift your heart and hands to Him? Is He your greatest love?
I’ve definitely had times in my life where I could answer those questions a resounding yes without a moment’s hesitation. Other times, I can’t honestly say His presence is my greatest desire. I want it to be, but there are times when life has just overwhelmed me, sucked the joy out of my relationship with Him. But I want it to be my greatest joy. I want my heart to leap within me when I hear praises lifted to Him. I want to have an undivided heart just like David did.
I don’t know about you, but I long to be a woman after God’s own heart. I pray He searches me and knows my thoughts and leads me in the way everlasting. I pray He replaces my heart of stone with a heart of flesh. I pray He makes me more like Him each and every day.