Many people have been baffled by the divinely inspired words describing David as a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22; 1 Sam 13:14; 16:1) because of the many deficiencies recorded in the Bible of David’s life. In order to fully understand the meaning of this statement (which is beyond the space of this blog) we must both understand the original context of 1 Sam 13 and how Paul quotes this designation in Acts 13.
What we can begin to understand is that the biblical meaning for heart is not just the seat of physical life but also the seat of feelings, emotions, desires and passions. Often the heart is the seat of mental, spiritual, and volitional decisions. The heart refers to all one is and does (Prov 4:23). God sought a man who at the very core had certain qualities that would resonate with His heart.
Isaiah concisely summed up what God looks for in a heart like His when he wrote in chapter 66:2 …“but this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Let us look at how David was humble.
David was the youngest son. He had the least seniority and did the most undesirable tasks. We assume he had a good attitude and made the most of his situation (1 Sam 16:12). David served Saul well, ministering to his needs when all the while he knew he was anointed to be King one day. David was learning to be a servant (1 Sam 16:23). David submitted to his father with respect and obedience. He continued serving as a shepherd even after he and his father knew he would be King (1 Sam 17:20). It took humility for David to acknowledge his responsibility and regret for the deaths of the priests (1 Sam 22:22). Abigail reminds David of his destiny and he listens to this stranger woman (1 Sam 25:32). David made the poor decision to go into battle with the Philistines against Saul but later he regains equilibrium by humbling himself (1 Sam 30:6). Numerous other times we can observe the posture and attitude of humility in David but two references deserve special notice.
David’s first response, after Nathan told him that God would give him an enduring legacy (2 Sam 7:18f), is to sit before God and pray. David is humbled by God’s grace: “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” He acknowledges that he is but a servant and goes on to praise God’s greatness. Here is David at his best!
Then, after life unravels due to his sin with Bathsheba, Uriah, Amnon, and Absolom, requiring him to flee Jerusalem, David responded to Zadok the priest with faith and humility in the sovereignty of God (2 Sam 15:25-26). “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”
Although a man with flaws, for sure, David was humble. How much of this humility does God see in you? How do you handle menial tasks that seem to have little value? What is your response when people do not give you the respect that your position or anointing should elicit? Can you acknowledge responsibility when others suffer because of your decisions? How well do you listen to and appreciate what others say, especially those who might not be of your maturity? How do you immediately respond when receiving blessing? And, when you have sinned, even multiple times, what is your posture of repentance and waiting on God to restore you?
To this one I will look says the Lord. David was great in part because he was humble. By God’s grace may we be like David in this regard!
Next Blog: David was great because he was focused on God’s glory.