To Be After The Heart Of God
King David is one of my favorite Old Testament characters, he was a shepherd boy who became King. And not just any king, he was the greatest king in Israel’s history. He was a great warrior king and expanded the size and territory of Israel’s boundaries. But one of the things I like about David is that the LORD described him “as a man after his own heart.”
Acts 13:22 ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
This morning I want us to look at what we can learn from David: “How to Be After God's Heart!” Deep down inside you, God is calling you, to be after, to long for God’s heart!
Let me set this up with some comparisons to King Saul. God decided to give in to the pleading of the people to be like all the other nations and have a king.
1 Samuel 9:2 “His name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; from his shoulders upward, he was taller than any of the people.”
Saul stood out in a crowd. Nowhere in Israel was there anyone taller. When Saul started as king, he saw himself as small, he had a humble spirit. But after a short time as king he began to see himself differently.
Of course, he was the king, but he is supposed to trust in God, wait upon the Lord, and follow his leading.
1 Samuel 13 records an incident when Saul got impatient and didn’t wait for the prophet Samuel to offer the prescribed sacrifice before going into battle; it was not a good day for Saul.
1 Samuel 13:8-10 “He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him.”
Saul was growing restless, the Philistine army was moving closer, soldiers were scattering from his army and going back home. He had waited for Samuel for 7 days, he decided, he had to act. So, he offered to the Lord the burnt offering. If only he had waited! Samuel shows up as he is finishing the offering and exclaims: “What have you done?” By taking the priestly function upon himself, Saul has disobeyed the Lord. It was a costly mistake. God would have been willing for Saul and his heirs to rule for a very long time over Israel. But not now.
1 Samuel 13:14 “But now your kingdom shall not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
Now David will be anointed King and his kingdom will have no end. Through David the Messiah will come and his throne will be established forever!
Very quickly let me point out that Saul made another major blunder. Through the prophet Samuel, God had told Saul to attack the Amalekites and utterly defeat them and wipe them out. He was to kill the king and slaughter all their livestock. When the battle was over, the king still lived, and the best of the sheep and goat and cattle were still alive. When Samuel questioned Saul about it, he answered by saying the people wanted to take the best of the livestock and make an offering to the Lord. So instead of being obedient to the Lord, he gave in to the pressure of the people. It sounded good to make a special offering to the Lord, but it wasn’t what he was commanded to do.
In both of these lessons from Saul, we learn that God is looking for obedience and taking responsibility for our actions. Obedience and owning up to your own decisions and choices are part of the character of your heart.
Jumping ahead in David’s life, there was a time when he counted the number of his army, which God had told him not to do. Counting the strength of the army was looking at the upcoming battle in human strength and showed a lack of faith in God fighting for them and with them. As the battle started David’s army began to experience heavy losses. Listen to David in
2 Samuel 24:17 “Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was smiting the people, and said, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let thy hand, I pray thee, be against me and against my father’s house.” David did not try to blame his generals or advisers; but he took full responsibility. He admitted that he had sinned, and that he should be punished, not his army. And from that point the battle turned.
Back to Saul, God rejected him as king, in the second year of his reign, and he reigned for 40 years. David wasn’t even born when God rejected Saul as king. It was 8 years before David would be born.
David wasn’t God’s first choice. He didn’t have all the qualifications the world might look for in a leader, but he yielded his whole heart to God. The Lord chose him, and God’s “Plan B” was better than any of us could have imagined!
The good news is that God can do the same for you. You may not have it all together. In fact, you may consider yourself, weak, rejected even despised 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; 27 but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
God is looking for someone who is seeking Him with your whole heart.
David was a humble Shepherd boy. Now I don’t know if David wrote the 23rd Psalm when he was the king, looking back on his experience and being able to put it into words. But I imagine as a songwriter and shepherd, that out of his devotion and love for God the words just flowed and came to him. David had plenty of time and opportunity as a shepherd to grow in love with God. You can see in David, his passion for the Lord, when he tells king Saul that the Lord would be with him against Goliath, just as the Lord helped David kill the lion and the bear, when they tried to snatch a lamb. David gained a lot of experience and insight as a shepherd!
So, why was David chosen to be King? Let’s look at the day David was anointed king of Israel. 1 Samuel 16:1-2 “The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing 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 provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’”
Samuel the prophet / priest comes to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse. Jesse has 8 sons and David is the youngest. The sons are going to walk past Samuel and the Lord will tell him which one to anoint.
1 Samuel 16:6-7 “When they came, he looked on Eli′ab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Eliab is Jesse’s first born, he is big and tall and strong. Samuel’s first impression is “this must be the one!” Not so fast, here! We have in our own minds what a leader looks like, or acts like, or what qualifications are important. But here we learn the Lord looks on the heart.
The seven oldest brothers all pass by, but God does not give the nod to any of them.
1 Samuel 16:11 “And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here.”
“Oh, I almost forgot, there is David out watching the sheep. Now, I want you to catch this, Samuel has come to anoint the next King of Israel, the Lord’s chosen one. Out of respect for that position Samuel refuses to sit down, until the king is anointed. Now we don’t know if it will take 20 or 40 minutes just to reach David, depending on where the sheep are. They could easily be standing and waiting for over an hour. Saul could not wait one more hour for Samuel to show up. It is always worthwhile to wait for the Lord and seek Him.
1 Samuel 16:12 “And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.”
David was the runt of the litter--not tall with broad shoulders. He is described as “ruddy” which could mean that he had red hair, or his skin reddened from the sun, or it could imply both. He had beautiful eyes and was handsome. David was nice looking but not the kind of a guy you would pick to lead people in battle--not in those days!
In fact, David’s own father didn’t think he had a chance to be anointed King. He could have arranged for David to be there--it just didn’t register that David would be chosen to be King!
To say that David was a man after God’s own heart, doesn’t mean that David lived a perfect life. It doesn’t mean that he never sinned or didn’t make a mistake. We have already looked at a time when David did sin, but the important thing is, that he admitted his sin and took responsibility for it. That’s the kind of personal character God is looking for.
David was seeking God with his whole heart.
He obeyed the word of the Lord.
He worshiped the Lord and had a zeal for His honor and reputation.
We know that David wrote at least 73 of the Psalms, which shows his confidence to live his life before the Lord with nothing held back--but no matter what David was going through he always came back to the goodness and glory of God and praised him.
For me, that’s what it means to “Be After God’s Heart!”
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is blameless toward him.”