Summary: Part one of a series on King David which describes the characteristics of what made David a man after God's own heart.
After God’s Own Heart
If you spend enough time reading the Bible, one of the things you start to notice is that it never flatters its heroes. It tells us the complete truth, good and bad, about everyone we meet. This is one of the reasons that I don’t believe the Bible was written by mankind for mankind, for it rarely shows us in a good light. A true and fair light, yes. But always a good light? No.
However, it is in showing us the good and the bad, the victories and the defeats, the triumphs of character and the complete lack of character (often about the same person within verses of one another!) that gives us a wonderful glimpse into the grace and mercy of God. For God chooses to use the imperfect, the weak, the selfish and the flawed to accomplish His plan of salvation. You don’t read about perfect heroes. You read about men and women who are scoundrels and liars and sinners, who show tremendous strength of faith along with immense amount of failure. You know, people like you and me. We read about these heroes of the faith in the Bible and, if we are honest, in many ways it is like reading our own autobiography. This will be very true as we look at the life of David.
And here is the truth we need to know and believe if we are going to fully engage in a study of David, King of Israel: God isn’t looking for perfect people. He is looking for men and women who truly have God’s interests at heart. And David was just that man.
In fact, David was such a man after God’s heart that more has been written about him than about any other biblical character. Abraham has about fourteen chapters dedicated to him, and so does Joseph. Jacob has eleven and Elijah ten. And David? Sixty-six, not including fifty-nine references in the New Testament.
With all this biblical room given to only one person, you might get the idea that he was some kind of superhuman super-hero. But as you may have already read, David is anything but superhuman. Yes, he had God’s spirit working powerfully in and through him, but he was still capable of the most glaring sins, both public and private sins, as well as private sins that went public. He was capable of tremendous grace towards his enemies, huge faith in God, deep emotions in his worship, incredible courage in the face of Goliath-sized odds and immense financial generosity when it came to building God’s Temple. But he was also subject to deep depression, fits of rage, tremendous lust, lying, deceiving and Academy Award winning acting when he needed to look crazy, drooling on his beard and scratching doors with his fingernails (1 Sam. 21:13).
And this is the man God said was after His own heart? Really God? Did you read this morning’s paper about his latest episode with Bathsheba? Isn’t it time we kicked him out of the church? I mean, that is what we’d do if he was pastoring a church today, right?
It seems that God’s reason for choosing people to be used in His Kingdom is quite different from the reasons we’d choose people. Now, let’s take a look at qualities God looks for in choosing men and women to be used for His glory, and we’ll start by reading 1 Sam. 16:1-13.
To give us some background, God has rejected Saul as king because Saul would not keep the Lord’s command. Saul was told to wait seven days in Gilgal until Samuel arrived (1 Sam. 10:8) to present burnt offerings to God. But Samuel doesn’t arrive on time and the Saul’s troops start to scatter. Afraid of losing his men, Saul offers a burnt sacrifice. But naturally, just about that time Samuel does appear. Now, Saul’s sin wasn’t in offering the sacrifice, for both David (1 Kings 3:15) and Solomon (2 Sam. 24:25) offer similar sacrifices. Saul’s sin was in disobeying God’s word through the prophet Samuel – a sin he would commit again (1 Sam. 15:26) when he didn’t destroy every living thing in Amalek, but saved back some animals for a sacrifice. But the truth is to obey is better than sacrifice; to heed his voice is better that offering the fat of rams (1 Sam. 15:22).
God has rejected Saul, but as is typical with God, the world didn’t know what God had rejected. Everyone but those God informed, in this case Samuel, thought Saul was still God’s chosen. But God had His eye on another – a man, as Samuel said in 1 Sam. 13:14, “after his own heart.”
Before God rejected Saul He already had such a man in mind. So in search of such a man, God sends Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of Jesse. Did you hear where he went? Bethlehem. Not Jerusalem. Not London. New York. Not Washington D.C. Not the place where the Tabernacle was, but a little village of a place outside the noise and crowds of the leaders and shakers. Bethlehem.