Being a “Man After God’s Own Heart”

Most of us, at one point or another, have pointed to 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22 zealously declaring we should be men after God’s own heart just like David! This is a mistake. When we say that, we mean that David is a man who seeks after God’s heart. But do you see the word “seek” in either of those passages? It’s not there and here’s why. King David being designated by God as a man after His heart is about God choosing David, not David’s character.

The phrase “after my own heart” was commonly employed by other ancient near easterners.* It simply means, “this is the person I’ve chosen.” When a god or king chose someone to rule, he would describe the successor as a man after his heart. When God utilized this phrase to describe David, He was not commenting on David’s stellar character (which was anything but stellar), He was alerting the audience that David was the chosen ruler of His people. This is contrasted with Saul who was appointed king as a judgment on Israel for their rejection of God’s kingship and their sinful request for a king like all of the other nations (see 1 Samuel 8:1-9).

A Lesson from This Phrase

King DavidDavid’s installment and perseverance as Israel’s king was a result of divine election and promise-keeping (cf. Psalm 78:70, 1 Kings 8:16), not the result of any particular merit he possessed. God is the one with the wisdom and authority to designate this son of Jesse as the “man after his own heart.” When David commits his egregious sins, he is kept in office because God picked him. This points us to one of the most notable features of the Old Testament narrative: the major figures are incredible sinners. And yet, they remain God’s instruments in advancing the redemptive story because He ordained their part in it.

In like manner, we who are chosen by God have confidence in His promise to keep us as His own. God has “predestined us for adoption” (Eph. 1:5) and we have complete assurance that no sin can take God’s favor from us. All former, present, and future transgressions have been paid for by Christ and we can confidently enjoy God’s abounding love. The point is that our character does not determine whether or not we are men and women “after God’s own heart.” God has already picked us. Rather, knowing that God chooses to save us despite our glaring deficiencies is precisely what shapes our character.

The Anticipated “Man After God’s Own Heart”

The selection of David as a king “after God’s own heart” is not an end in and of itself, but rather serves as a foreshadow. When God promises in Jeremiah 33:17 that David’s throne “shall never lack a man” He is pointing us to a much greater figure than King David. Isaiah 9:7 describes the Messiah as one who would assume the “throne of David.” Then, in Luke 1:32, the angel Gabriel explicitly tells a trembling, frightened Mary that “the Lord God will give to [Jesus] the throne of his father David.” Christ is the eternal King from David’s line. He will be called King of Kings and His kingdom shall know no end. He is the King that God has chosen to rule and reign forever. Jesus is the longed for “man after God’s own heart”, the royal Son of the Almighty, who gave His life to transform rebellious subjects into sons and heirs.

We all want to be people after God’s heart. The beautiful thing is that – because of Christ – we already are.

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*For example, see this excerpt from Henri Frankfort’s book Kingship and the Gods – a study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature. Scroll half way down the page, look for the heading THE CHOICE OF THE GODS and examine the end of the last paragraph. You will see Cyrus the Persian describing the god, Marduk, as searching for “a king after his own heart.”

The Children in the Road

Last Sunday, Dec. 4th, I was privileged to preach at Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church in Riverside, CA. This church was incredibly gracious, kind, receptive and encouraging! It built me up and convicted me to see their hearts to serve.

If you’d like to have a listen, you can access the audio for this message on their website by clicking here or you can listen to it on this post where I’ve embedded it below. If, after listening, you feel the desire to serve children in foster care please let me know! I’d love to connect you with opportunities so that you could be a blessing to these kids and they could be a blessing to you. Also, if you would be interested in having me come to share this message or a similar one at your church please don’t hesitate to ask. Blessings in the Savior!

The Children in the Road

Morality Can’t Save

There are a number of voices today heralding a powerless gospel: the morality gospel. It goes something like, “I don’t really know about Jesus or faith or sin or anything like that. But, I know that God wants us to live a good life by being nice to our neighbors and non-judgmental.” While this sounds appealing on the surface, there is no way to demonstrate that God would be pleased by that kind of lifestyle.

And yet this sounds like such an agreeable way to live. Why won’t God be pleased by such a simple, moralistic lifestyle? Let me answer in three parts.

1. Without Christ’s intervention we are under God’s wrath not His favor
Romans 5:18 states plainly that “one trespass led to condemnation for all men.” Without a shift in our relationship with God, we all start out in danger of being served God’s justice. Things are not okay between us and God until Christ enters the picture and removes God’s wrath. But He only removes it for those who are united with Him in His death and resurrection. We see it later in Romans with the glorious promise of chapter 8 verse 1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2. Our good deeds do not please God
The natural passage to turn to is Isa. 64:6 which reads, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” In and of ourselves we cannot be selfless. Our attempts to be charitable are stained by an insatiable desire for recognition. We are incapable to “do good for goodness’ sake” precisely because when we do good our goal is to be worshiped. Since our attempts at sacrificial love are selfish, God cannot be pleased by them.

3. Our self-righteousness robs us of our need for God’s mercy
If we could attain the righteousness which God requires all by ourselves we would not be in need of His charity. What makes God so loving is our desperate need for pardon. If we were not in need of that mercy how would we ever know that He loved us? We are only capable of grasping His love because He had to make such a radical sacrifice for us to be saved. And when we do grasp that, we are finally free to show His love to others.

The bottom line is this: our morality is utterly incapable of saving us from God’s righteous retribution. He is a just judge who must punish wrongdoing. How could He do otherwise? Either Jesus was punished for our sins or we will be punished for them, but payment must be made.

If you have succumbed to the idea that living a “good life” will keep you in God’s good graces, then please hear my plea. He will not see your good deeds because sinful condition has so profoundly tainted them. Know that Christ has lived your “good life” and died your death so that God may be pleased with you. And for those who are in Christ, be assured He is exceedingly pleased with you! As a father delights in his child, as a groom delights in his bride, as a king delights in his people, in all of these ways God richly delights in you. Respond to His jealous love with profound gratitude and supreme devotion.

May you ditch all efforts to save yourself and be wholly satisfied with all that God has done for you in Christ Jesus!

For His glory and fame,
Dustin