Why Was David a Man after God's own Heart?
What special attributes did David develop that gained him such high favor with God?
"I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will" (Acts 13:22).
So said God of King David of ancient Israel! What a positive evaluation!
all the people who have lived. God has given David a special place in
His heart. We know from Scripture that King David, when resurrected,
will rule over all Israel in the Kingdom of God (Jer. 30:9, Ezek.
Have you stopped to consider why God felt this way about
him? As one of God's people today, being judged now for your response
to God (I Pet. 4:17), how do you measure up to David's example? Would
God be able to say that you are a man or woman after His own heart?
biblical books of I and II Samuel cover David's life history. Saul had
preceded David as king, and utterly failed by disobeying God (1 Sam.
13:13-14). God decided to replace .Saul with someone else as king, and
God used a different method of selecting the next king than humans
would have used.
God looks on the inside, at the inner motives
of the heart, at a person's attitude (I Sam. 16:7). He wanted Saul's
replacement to measure up to high standards in inner character.
are several specific areas of David's character that made him
especially pleasing to God — that made him a man after God's own heart.
though he was but a young man when initially anointed to be king, David
had already exhibited tremendous strength, wisdom and talent. He was
known as a shrewd hunter. He was physically fit and poised, and an
accomplished musician (I -Sam. 16:18). Soon afterward, David showed one
key reason for his success in God's eyes: active, living faith.
no Bible story is more popular than the example of David and Goliath.
Here was the teenaged David perhaps short, freckle-faced and lanky —
who decided to go against the champion of the enemy army —- a man -
crushing warrior who stood more than 9 feel tall and whose armor alone
weighed nearly 200 pounds!
Goliath had taunted the Israelites
for some time, challenging Them to provide an opponent for him. All
Israel's warriors refused. But not David! David walked by faith, not
sight, and he knew God could use him to defeat this enemy of His chosen
people (I Sam. 17:26, 36-37).
Without a trace of fear, and with
no armor or battle garb, David stepped forward with his slingshot and —
whap! — down crashed the mass of muscle, bone and armor who dared to
defy the Internal!
David was close to
God. He listened to God and believed that nothing
could stand against the power of God He
had complete faith to overcome any seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
it wasn't faith without
effort. David was prepared. He didn't
neglect the physical part he could do. He had become strong and able by
protecting his fathers sheep from wild animals, and he was
an expert marksman after years of
Still, David maintained regular contact with God and rightly gave God full credit for the victory.
today should have this same attribute of character. If we believe God,
diligently study His Word, remain in prayerful contact with Him and
follow as God leads through His Church, we can have the same kind of
faith David exhibited.
Another major aspect of
David's character was that he was sincerely and consistently
humble. This trait was especially
apparent in David's relationship with Saul - Godly humility.
his incredible defeat of Goliath and the resulting adulation of all
Israel. David became a member of Saul's loyal court. Still, he
considered himself totally unworthy to marry the king's daughter (I Sam
18:18, 23-24) He knew God had blessed him. and he felt undeserving.
after Saul had become "David's enemy continually" because
of jealousy (verse 29), David still esteemed himself as nothing more
than a dead dog or a flea (I Sam. 24:14). He honestly felt that he was
too insignificant to threaten Saul's position.
David did become king., God made far-reaching promises to him including
the establishment of a perpetual throne, which Saul failed to
qualify for. Yet David continued to reflect godly
humility: "Who am I, O Lord God"? And what is
my house, that You have brought me this far?'" (II Sam. 7:18).
felt he was not important; to him. only God's plan and purpose
mattered. He served God in humility, with the mind of Christ, with the
altitude described in Philippians 2:3: "let nothing he done through
selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness
of mind let each esteem
others better than himself." Do you have this kind of humility?
Loyalty to God's government
displayed another quality that anyone being trained for rulership must
possess: He had complete loyalty and respect for God's government, and
for the human instruments God places in the offices of that government.
had begun to work through King Saul as His ruler over the people. Saul,
caught up in a rebellious altitude, began to reject God's directions.
after anointing future King David. God sent an evil spirit to trouble
Saul, but left Saul in office as king (I Sam.
16:13-14), Demon influenced Saul, crazed with
envy, tried to kill David at every opportunity.
Even though David served him totally and refused to fight back, Saul persisted.
had a deep, abiding respect for whomever God had established over him,
even if that person in authority were a murderous maniac. Striving only
to keep his life, David never talked against Saul or failed to
acknowledge Saul's authority as God's annoited.
having given in to temptation to move against the king. David "cut off
a corner of Saul's robe" (I Sam. 24:4-5). an act that would have shamed
the ruler. David fell guilty, and repented
bitterly (verse 6).
All this, while Saul was on a mission to murder David!
another occasion. David rejected
an easy opportunity to take Saul's
life, knowing that to do so would make him guilty of rebellion against
God (I Sam. 26:9, 11). David understood the lesson Saul missed: "For
rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity
and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord. He also
has rejected you from being king" (I Sam. 15:23).
this test to continue for David for many years after he was anointed to
replace Saul. David could have rebelled and tried to take over, but he
didn't. he didn't resist, and always honored God's chosen servant.
How would you have reacted if you had been in David's shoes?
Would you have passed his test?
do you react today to God's chosen apostle, ministers and servants? Are
you willing to be ruled now, so you can be trained to rule in God's
Kingdom (Heb. 13:7, 17)?
Another facet of David's character, which developed along with loyalty, was patience.
had to wait years after his anointing before he became king! And the
waiting wasn't easy. He had countless physical and
spiritual trials. Only after much strife did God give him the kingdom of Israel. In waiting on God, David endured in spite of
He left his life and future in God's hands and had the patience
necessary to develop godly character. Paul explains this attitude as it
applies in the lives of true Christians: "We glory in tribulations
also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience,
experience; and experience, hope" (Rom. 5:3-4, Authorized Version).
and patience are often mentioned together in the Bible. You cannot have
patience without faith. Faith is belief in God backed up with active
obedience (Jas. 2:18). Patience is the serene attitude that allows you
to wait on God in adverse circumstances. Patience is developed through
trials like those David experienced: "The testing of your faith
produces patience" (Jas. 1:3).
David knew that God would fulfill His plan for him if he patiently endured (Heb. 10:36).
How about you? Are you patiently enduring? Do you have the calm resolve that results from leaving your life, in God's hands?
major area of David's character involved his whole approach to God's
way. He didn't do anything halfway. David always exhibited an
unfeigned, wholehearted, enthusiastic devotion to God. When David
served, he served all the way, in whatever was needed. He was a
continual inspiration to others.
After retrieving the ark of the
covenant from enemy armies. King David was more excited than anyone
else. He dropped any courtly reserve and danced for joy in the streets
of Jerusalem (II -Sam 6:14)
Everyone knew David's
enthusiasm about serving God, and it affected the whole nation. David
gave himself completely to the way of
God. He didn't hold back. What about us
today? God tells us to develop this same kind
through drawing near to him and exhorting one another (Heb. 10:22-24, 38).
you have an enthusiasm for God's Work today, a zeal that is contagious?
We must not draw back or allow others to hold us back. We must give God
our total involvement, as David did. God was pleased with him. How
to be overlooked, another vital aspect of David's life was the
wisdom he developed. From his youth,
David behaved "wisely in all his ways" (I Sam, 18:14).
David's son Solomon, the wisest man who
ever lived, learned about wisdom from his father, and Solomon was the
source of most of the instruction now incorporated into the book of
Proverbs (Prov. 4:3-5).
Wisdom, the proper application of the
spirit of God's law in every area of life, began for David with a deep
reverence for Cod, He feared God and set his heart and attitude to obey
What about you? Do you lack spiritual wisdom?
God tells us to ask, in total faith, for wisdom, and He will give it in abundance (Jas. 1:5).
last spiritual characteristic David had is the most important. Without
it, he would not have continued as a man after God's own heart, David
practiced real repentance.
David was not perfect. Like all of
us, he occasionally stumbled. But when he saw his mistakes, he always
admitted he was wrong and sought God with all his heart, to go the
After his adultery
with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah, for
example, David totally repented before God. He knew he-had not just
committed sin, He, as a person, was wrong through and through. He
repented not only of what he did, but of what he was.
before God. David cried out and asked that God would
forgive him and restore His Spirit:
"Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part
You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be
clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow... Hide Your face from
my sins, and blot out all my iniquities, Create in me a clean heart, O
God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from
Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me
the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous
Notice David's intent and
motive. He wanted with all his heart to continue to be used by God, to
be on the right track spiritually (verses 13-15).
David knew God
had to clean him up in order to use him. David's motive was to give. He
wanted with all his hear! to help others know and obey God.
You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not
delight in burnt offering-The sacrifices of God are a I broken spirit,
a broken and a contrite heart — these, O God, You will not despise"
(verses 16-17). David was completely broken in this attitude of deep
repentance. His self was shattered. And he knew that God required this
contrition for his own good.
God, who looks on the heart.
forgave and forgot David's sins (II-Sam. 12:13). He only remembers the
character David developed. That is why He describes David as a man
after His own heart. If David had not admitted his sins and changed,
God could; not have said that about
The analysis of David
in Acts 13:22, quoted at the beginning of this article, was recorded
long after David died. Through faith, humility, loyalty to God's
government, patience, zeal, wisdom and real repentance, David overcame
his human nature, developed godly character and qualified for a high
position in God's coming Kingdom. He was a man
after God's own heart.
What will God say about you?
By Stanley M McNieI, Good News Magazine April 1983