We know from 1 Samuel 13 David is a man after God’s own heart. In light of Saul’s failures, God chose David to be the prince to succeed the throne.
“But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
1 Samuel 13:14
Why David? What makes him so special. There are a lot of things about David that make him the hero of the stories. There are a lot of characteristics I would like to model my life after, but the one that sticks out to me most is how he longs for the presence of God. He is horrified at the thought of being cast from the presence of God.
David is not perfect. He sins. He gives into sexual temptation, and at times seems to have a thirst for blood and violence. These are not traits I want to imitate.
2 Samuel 12 (please take a moment to read this story) is the story where Nathan the prophet is sent to David to reveal God’s heart concerning his actions with Bathsheba. David’s response is that of heartbreak over being out of the Lord’s favor. He turns to repentance and sorrow over the repercussions. On the other side, David no longer holds shame or sorrow.
David’s heart is to dwell in the presence of the Lord. This is not just a future hope. He feels the weight of separation from God through sin and can’t stand the thought of living at odds with God. This is what brings him to repentance so quickly. He doesn’t want to deny what he has done or remain hidden with the cost of the favor of God.
For God it seems a man after his own heart is not a perfect man, but a man who runs to repentance and falls on the grace of God to remain in his presence. It is one who doesn’t minimize his sin, but cries out to God for freedom.
I think as believers, we need to imitate this character trait. When we are shown to not measure up, when we are exposed, do we try and minimize exposure and avoid humiliation? Do we try and hide our shameful acts, or do we cry out to God in repentance, owning our failure and falling on the grace of God?
The latter is what the Lord wants. It is what the heart of passionate obedience looks like. In David’s psalms, there tends to be a side to David where he passionately laments in his trials. When he feels the Lord is not present, he is heartbroken. I don’t think David is being melodramatic or spiritually immature. He doesn’t attempt to just brave through his circumstances. He has come to know he doesn’t want to move forward unless the Lord is with him.
The psalms are an interesting view into David. David is calm and collected in many situations. But when someone is sinning against the Lord, or there is injustice, David gets outraged. He doesn’t condone sin. It is as though David can’t even expose himself to alienating himself from God by ignoring the sin around him.
In all reality David was an enemy to Saul (the king) but when a man comes to inform David of his death and his role in taking the life of the king, David has him put to death. To act outside of justice is inconceivable to David, in his own life and the lives of those under his care.
David’s heart longs for the presence and person of God. His heart yearns for what is true and just. It leads him to repentance. It leads him towards holiness and breaks at the awareness of sin.
I want to be a man after God’s own heart like David. I want, like David, to be quick to repent, quick to fall on the grace of God instead of hiding away. I want to long for the presence of God and be broken over the thought of his presence being withheld. May you in turn experience a David-like heart as you read this.