Summary: A look at why Saul was rejected, but David was called a man after Gods own heart even though they both failed. It was because David, trusted God, was humble, and knew how to repent.
Having a heart after God’s own.
22After 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.’
Today I want to compare the lives of two men, Saul and David. Saul was a man rejected by God, David was a man who would reign with God’s anointing upon his life, and become an predecessor to Jesus. Why did God reject Saul and yet anoint David. What sins did Saul commit that caused him to fall from grace, while David ruled with God’s blessing? Let us look at the sins that they both committed in human terms. Imagine a big set of scales.
On one side we have the sins of Saul that caused him to be rejected. Firstly, in 1 Samuel 13, Saul offers up burnt offerings to the Lord instead of waiting for Samuel to arrive as he should have done. Saul demonstrates disobedience and a fear of man. This in human terms is a reasonably serious sin, but nothing too major. Saul’s second sin is found in 1 Samuel 15, where he fails to follow the Lords instructions in failing to totally destroy the Amalekites. Again we have disobedience, but surely, simply failing to destroy something isn’t that bad? Saul did commit many other sins after this, such as consulting the witch of Endor and trying to spear David, but it is at this point that Saul is already rejected, and so we can’t really take them into account.
Let’s weigh David’s sins on the same scales then. We have the time when he took a census of all his troops. The Bible describes this as one of David’s greatest mistakes, but in human terms, it is only probably as bad as Saul offering up a sacrifice instead of waiting. Next we have a bit more serious misdemeanour, the incident with Bathsheba. Adultery has got to be at least as bad as Saul keeping some of the plunder for himself. The scales must be pretty balanced now, if not tipped slightly towards David being the greatest sinner. But hang on, we haven’t finished yet, what about murder. David had an innocent and faithful man killed on the battlefield. Surely now, the scales must be truly weighed towards David being rejected rather than Saul?
If Saul was rejected as king, why not David? The Bible makes it clear that while Saul sinned, because he had a heart that sought after his own benefit, David, despite struggling with sin, had a heart that was firmly after God’s own. David is described again and again as a man whose heart is after Gods own. David’s desperate desire to serve God, despite struggling with sin, is probably the reason that more space in the Bible is dedicated to him than any other character, including Jesus. There are many other characters that could be described as after Gods own heart such as Joseph, Joshua, Daniel, Paul, and of course Jesus. It is because David failed so many times, and yet still managed to seek after God, that we find him easier to relate to than other Biblical heroes.
It was David’s heart, that caused God to punish him, rather than reject him. David was punished, and very severely at times, but God was still able to use him mightily because his heart was after God’s. Saul was majestic and looked every bit a king on the outside, David was a king from the heart. When God chose David, what was it about his heart that he recognised as being like his own? Well if you were to look at ten different sermons, you would probably get around 30 different legitimate answers to this question. Today I have picked out three of the main characteristics that David possessed, and Saul lacked, that caused God to give him the title, ’a man after His own heart’.
David trusted God, rather than fearing men, he had a humble and servants heart, and he knew how to repent. I want to use these things as a check list, to see if we too have a heart after God’s own.
Trusted God, rather than Fearing Man.
David had learnt to trust God as a shepherd. Little by little he had taken on greater challenges. He was so protective of his fathers flock that he was willing to take on a lion or a bear in order to save them. When it came to Goliath, he didn’t cower in fear like the rest of Israel, because he feared only God, and he had learnt to trust Him.
1 Samuel 17: 33-35
33 Saul replied, "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."