God gave testimony, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will (Acts 13:22 KJV).
After God's Heart
How was David a man after God’s own heart?
The real question is how did God know that David was a man after his own heart before David had accomplished any great deeds, before he became the great renowned king, before he fought against the Philistines or against any other army - while he was just the youngest son in a household of young men who were warriors fighting with the King for their country. What did David do as a young boy/man that made God know that he was a man after his own heart?
When God described David as a man after his own heart, the quality that singled him out above all others, from God’s perspective, was not just that David was a man whose heart was like his but that he was a man whose heart sought after his own heart.
That was, and is what God looks for in a man or woman whom he wants to draw close to and pour his own heart into.
David sought after God deeply. He saw God in the heavens as he sat out in the desert and in the fields caring for his sheep and he desired him. He wanted to know him. He communed with God from his inner being and God in turn spoke deep in his heart - God also communed with him. It was like deep calling unto deep, so David could write:
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the god of glory thunders,
The Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
The Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion, like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry ‘Glory.’
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
The Lord is enthroned as King forever.
(Psalms 29: 3-20 NIV)
As to his character, we know that as a boy David was faithful and uncomplaining. As the youngest in the family, his duty was to stay in the desert and look after the sheep.
His family wasn’t rich; his father didn’t have a lot of sheep. Eliab, his brother, complained about him leaving his father’s ‘few’ sheep to come and see the battle. But the numbers were not important to David, he knew his duty and he was faithful in carrying it out. He did not leave the sheep unattended but brought in another shepherd to watch the sheep while he went off to battle (I Samuel 17:20). He didn’t shirk from his duty, or work half-heartedly. He didn’t sulk and complain about being cast off by his family, even though they sometimes overlooked him (I Samuel 16: 8-11). The sheep were safe in his hands as he watched over them tenderly and carefully. That is why he could write Psalm 23, with such intimate knowledge of the job of the shepherd and the ensuing confidence it gave him to know that the Lord himself was his shepherd.
David didn’t grow bored or tired and weary of being cut off from the hustle and bustle of court life or the daily family and community events. He sat out in the field and looked up at trees and the hills and the sky and looked around at the springs of water, and songs of praise and adoration to God poured out from his own spirit. And as he praised God and meditated on his word, God drew close to him, communed with him, and poured out his heart to him. And because David loved the Lord and was comfortable and content just sitting quietly in his presence, God, in turn, felt free to sit with him and communicate with him openly.
God wanted communion and he found it with David in the quiet desert place. He saw that David didn’t grow weary of him and get up restlessly to do things for him. Nor did he go seeking for position in, or through God. He just wanted God; he wanted to spend time with him, and so they grew to know each other’s heart - like friends. That is why many years later after David had been established as King and had built a great palace for himself, he also wanted to build a house for God - for his friend. ‘After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am, living in palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent’ (II Samuel 7:1 NIV).
That is why he wrote, ‘One thing have I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple’ (Psalm 27:4 NIV).
That is why too, David did not flinch from danger in the pursuit of his duty. He was not afraid of wild animals, or the goliaths of the world. On different occasions he single-handedly killed a bear and a lion, which attempted to attack and devour the sheep under his care. But in relaying the deed, he did not boast of his own strength. He understood that it was God with him, who had enabled him to fight and overcome the enemy. He trusted God and his ability to save him in any, and every circumstance. That is why he knew he could defeat Goliath whom the Israelites feared.
David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it, and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (I Samuel 17: 34-37 NIV).
Because he knew God so intimately, David had a heart with the similitude of God’s humility and patience. He was anointed as king while still a shepherd looking after his fathers ‘few sheep’, and remained in the desert as a shepherd for years after his call and anointing. There is no indication that he questioned Samuel about when he would be king or why he had to wait so long. (He knew that the God who had called him was with him). He did not boast about his calling. He didn’t spend much time in idle, useless chatter nor spoke foolishly. When the Spirit of God left Saul and he became ill, Saul asked for a musician to play for him and one of his servants, who like the rest of Israel, did not know of David’s anointing, recommended that David play the harp for Saul. It is not clear whether the servant knew David well but he had a good testimony of him. He told Saul, ‘I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skilful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech and a handsome man, and the Lord is with him’ (I Samuel 16: 18 NAS).
David possessed the kind of humility displayed by Jesus. Genuine humility that made him know when to be quiet and when to speak. Because it is the kind of humility borne out of intimacy with the Father, it is practiced with knowledge of God’s will and purposes.
David was a man of faith and this gave God great delight. The scripture says, ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). David believed what his father taught him about God and the way God wanted his people to live. He understood the importance of circumcision as God commanded his people. He believed they were a chosen people and that the God they served was the only true and living God. That, along with his own personal relationship with the Lord, gave him the assurance that he had the authority to stand up against any ‘uncircumcised Philistine.’ He must have heard enough and read enough of battle - Moses, Joshua, Gideon and Samson - to know without a doubt, that no one can stand against the armies of the living God.
So David sought after God’s heart and the more he yearned for God the longer the Lord communed with him, and the more time he spent with the Lord, the more his heart became transformed into the likeness of the one with whom he dwelt.
How much time do you spend seeking after the heart of God?