I want to be a man after God's own heart, but how? How does a person do that? Do you have to constantly read your Bible and pray without ceasing? If so, then I will never attain the mark. I am just too busy with work and family to be able to read my Bible constantly and pray without ceasing. I would like to say I can, but I know I can't. But is that what God means by a man after His own heart?
Who did He call a man after His own heart? Let's look and see.
(1 Samuel 13:13-14 NIV)  "You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.  But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD'S command."
Of course we know that Samuel was speaking about David. So David was a man after God's own heart. Did David sit around reading the Scriptures all day? Did he sit around meditating and praying all day?
Well the Bible tells us quite a lot about David. He was a shepherd, he was a mighty warrior, he was a musician and to his downfall he was a ladies man. That is not to say that he did not read the Scriptures and mediate on God's word or that he did not pray, but he was not locked in a room doing only those things. So we come back to the question: what made David a man after God's own heart?
Was he holy and sinless? The Bible tells us that no one other than Jesus Christ was ever able to live a sinless life. In fact the Bible gives many details of David's life and quickly dispels the idea that he was holy enough to be a man after God's own heart.
We know a few things. He had many wives. We know that he was not always the best disciplinarian of his kids. Take the story of Tamar for example. David knew that she had been raped by her half-brother, but he did nothing. This incident snowballed and almost cost David his life and his kingdom, because Tamar's natural brother wanted to avenge her. We know that David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then to cover it up ordered her husband's murder.
No this was not a man who never sinned or never made a mistake. Yet God still called Him a man after His own heart. So what could be the reason?
Did David always trust God no matter what the situation? Let's look:
(1 Samuel 21:12-13 NIV)  David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath.  So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.
So although he had faith in God and trusted Him, he was much like us; there were times when he lacked faith.
If David was not a man after God's own heart because he was constantly in prayer and mediation, and not because he lived such a holy life, and not because of his unshakable faith, what was it?
I think there were several reasons David was a man after God's own heart. Some of them are plainly stated in Scripture and some are implied. Let's look at one of the implied reasons first.
After David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed to cover up the sin, God sent Nathan to him to confront him with his sin. We see the real heart of David in this incident. Many people when confronted with their own sin want to kill the messenger or deny responsibility, or blame others. But look at how David reacted:
(2 Samuel 12:13 NIV) Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die."
David could have said, "Well Bathsheba should not have been bathing out in the open." Or he could have blamed the servants who went to get her for him. There are thousands of things David could have pointed to, but he didn't. He confessed his sin with a contrite heart.
It is very popular today to blame our sinful ways on the past. It is the fault of our past hardships, or our parents, or our employer, or the lies we were told by Satan when we were very young. You name it people have used it to shift the blame from their own actions to others. The only thing this does is deny our responsibility before a Holy God.
Now for the plainly stated explanation from Scripture for the reason David was a man after God's own heart:
(Acts 13:22 NIV) 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.'
He will do everything I want him to do. Wow, how simple is that and yet how hard is that for us to emulate? David was willing to do whatever God asked him to do. As we have seen David had his faults, but God knew his heart. He knew that David loved Him and would do whatever He asked him to do.
We should live as holy a life as we can and we can live a very holy life with the Holy Spirit's help. We should read and mediate on God's word. We should be people of prayer, praying without ceasing. Yet if we really want to be men and women after God's own heart, we need to start doing what He asks us to do. It is not always easy, it is not always fun and it is often without human reward or recognition, but who do we serve, man or God? Who do we want to please, man or God? Who do we want to think highly of us, man or God?
There are many places in Scripture where God shows us that He wants to use us. I will just quote one because I think it says it all:
(Ezekiel 22:30-31 NIV)  "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.  So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD."
I thought about just quoting the first verse, but without the second you don't get the full effect of what God is saying. Are we willing to be men and women after God's own heart? There is a price to pay but heavenly rewards to gain. Oh how I long to hear Him say that I am a man after His own heart. I pray that you too want that title.
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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