In Paul's sermon at Antioch, in which he
briefly recounts the history of Israel, he refers to the
statement made by God concerning David:
"I have found David the son of Jesse, a man
after My own Heart, who will do all My will." - (Acts 13:22 [cf.
1 Samuel 13:13-14]) It is especially interesting, given the fact
that David is among the patriarchs with the most checkered past.
The portrait of King David painted by
Scripture is hardly the picture of what one might consider 'a
man after God's own heart'.
At various times during his lifetime, he was
deceitful and corrupt, a widely despised tyrant who lacked for
justice, and a murderer.From the slaughter of seven sons of Saul
to the murder of one of his most loyal lieutenants, whose wife
he seduced, David was no paragon of virtue.
What was there about David that caused God to
extend such a sweeping compliment as to pronounce him a man
after His own Heart? David understood his relationship with God
like few others in Biblical history.
After committing adultery with Bathsheba and
then having her husband, Uriah killed, the prophet Nathan stood
before King David and accused him before God.
"And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And
he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one
city; the one rich, and the other poor.
The rich man had exceeding many flocks and
herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb,
which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together
with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and
drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as
And there came a traveler unto the rich man,
and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to
dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the
poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to
And David's anger was greatly kindled against
the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that
hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the
lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no
"And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man."
(2nd Samuel 12:1-7)
Note that Samuel carefully records that "the
Lord sent Nathan unto David" to convict him of his sin. In his
prayer of contrition in Psalm 51, David reveals much of what it
was that caused God to pronounce him a 'man after His own
"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy
lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender
mercies blot out my transgressions." (Psalms 51:1)
David understood that his relationship with
God was 'according to His lovingkindness' and not according to
David's definition of what God should do. He also understood
that his sin, as horrendous as it was, could be blotted out, not
by some act of David's, but solely due to the 'multitude of
God's tender mercies'.
David appeals; "Wash me throughly from mine
iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my
transgressions: and my sin is ever before me." (v.2.3) David
knew that God knew what his sins were, but the important point
was that DAVID knew what his sins were, and the importance of
honest confession before God.
David understood also that his sin was against
God, that it was deliberate, and that the reason his sin haunted
him was because of its offense before God. David understood
that, since it was a sin against God, only an act of God could
blot it out. Nothing David could do to make restitution would
ever be sufficient.
"Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and
done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified
when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest." (v.4) David
understood that there was no 'wiggle room' before the Lord and
that God's justice is as absolute as His mercy.
But David was also a realist; "Behold, I was
shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
David understood the dual nature of fallen
humanity, that which caused the Apostle Paul to cry out, "O
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of
this death?" (Romans 7:24)
Paul explained, "For we know that the law is
spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do
I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate,
that do I." (Romans 7:14-15)
Having expressed his frustration with his own
struggle with his dual nature, Paul summarized that which David
"So then with the mind I myself serve the law
of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (Romans 7:25) David
prayed, "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in
the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom."
God's truth is that nothing we can do by our
own effort will ever make restitution for our past sins. Each of
us shares the same conflict between the carnal nature and the
Paul's equation of the sin nature to 'the body
of this death' refers to a particularly brutal form of execution
sometimes practice under the Romans. The condemned would be
chained to a corpse, and food and water withheld until the
condemned either died or resorted to cannibalism.
That is how Paul viewed the cohabitation of
the spirit with the sin nature of the flesh.
David trusted God to lead him, even when he
was out of fellowship, having faith that 'in the hidden part' --
in his spirit, God would 'make him to know wisdom'.
David's understanding of the grace of God as
expressed in his prayer in large part, fits with God's
description of him as being a man after His own Heart.
It was this understanding of unmerited grace
that formed the centerpiece of the ministry of Jesus. One of the
Lord's earthly titles is the "Son of David."
David expresses his understanding of how the
process of forgiveness operates in God's economy.
"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy
and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit
within me." (v. 7-10)
Note the role David plays in his redemption.
Admit, confess, repent and trust. To 'repent' means to change
one's mind about sin. David saw himself as King of Israel, and
therefore, whatever he did was above reproach.
David sat on his throne, and passed judgment
on the wicked rich man of whom Nathan spoke. Until he realized
Nathan was speaking about HIM, at which point he changed his
mind about his sin and laid himself bare before the Lord.
All the rest of the redemptive process David
placed in the Hands of God. 'Purge me, wash me, forgive me,
bless me and renew me.'
Even his sense of conviction came through a
direct message from God through Nathan, just as we are directly
convicted by God through His indwelling Holy Spirit.
David's only role in his redemption was to
trust in God to make the changes that David knew he could not
David accepted the earthly consequences of his
sin, such as the death of his son, but with the clear
understanding that the spiritual consequences of his sin were
"While the child was yet alive, I fasted and
wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to
me, that the child may live?
But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?
can I bring him back again? I SHALL GO TO HIM, but he shall not
return to me." (2nd Samuel 12:22-23)
What made David a man after God's own heart
was his understanding of the consequences of being out of
fellowship with God, and how to get back into right fellowship
"Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and
uphold me with Thy free spirit." It is the joy of knowing one is
saved and in fellowship with the Lord that shines through and
attracts the lost.
Having been spiritually restored, notes David;
"THEN will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be
converted unto Thee."(v. 11-12)
Often, I read in the forums of members
lamenting their ineffectiveness for Christ and wondering what it
is they are doing wrong. Spend a few minutes meditating on these
two verses with me.
GOD restores our joy, GOD then subsequently
upholds us with His Spirit. THEN we find ourselves effective
witnesses, teaching people His ways, and leading the lost to
It is deceptively simple. Trust God. Be
joyful. Allow Him to lead you and not the other way around.
David makes it clear that the redemptive
process is in God's Hands, understanding grace so well that he
could see past the Temple rituals of the Mosaic Law and peer
into God's Heart, saying, "For thou desirest not sacrifice; else
would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite
heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (v. 51-16-17)
One of the most debilitating emotions to one's
Christian witness is the weight of the guilt we heap on
ourselves for being what we KNOW we are in our own 'inward
David understood, in his spirit, that God's
forgiveness is total and absolute, and leaves no spiritual
residue of guilt. At the Cross, the Son of David cried out in a
loud voice, 'Tetelestai!' which means, 'paid in full'.
Jesus promised, "Come unto Me, all ye that
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My
yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in
heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is
easy, and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)