I have always admired David. While he was a murderer and adulterer (in his heart), he was still called “a man after God’s own heart.” I certainly don’t admire the murderer and adulterer parts of David. However, I do admire David’s humility, his willingness to confess (albeit after some encouragement from Nathan), his willingness to repent, and his understanding of God’s grace, mercy, and loving-kindness. While these later characteristics are an important part of David’s being; they were there because of a lifetime of walking with, chasing after, God and following His ways. David was given this title by God, not after his life, or near the end, but before he was anointed by Samuel to be king.
As we read the story of David in 1st and 2nd Samuel, it is clear that David had to trust God in many situations, with his very life… Tending sheep and fending off wild animals, going before Goliath with a stone and a sling, hiding in the wilderness from Saul, going out against the Philistines, and on and on… In all of these events in David’s life, David not only trusted God, but chased after Him. The books of Samuel make clear points of showing David asking permission of God before he took action. He sought God’s will before carrying out a task. He clearly had an intimate relationship with his Heavenly Father. When he asked, David immediately heard God’s voice. The Bible does not say David asked God’s will, then waited for a period. It says, David asked and God answered.
Another key characteristic of David that earned him the title of “a man after God’s own heart,” is David’s own display of grace and mercy. Because David had been shown grace and mercy by God (because that is who God is), he showed that same grace and mercy to others. For instance, there were times when David could have killed Saul. He was undetected and close enough to cut the corner off Saul’s robe and another time took Saul’s spear while he slept, yet David spared his life. After Saul’s death, he treated Saul with dignity and his family with grace. Because Saul was God’s anointed king, David respected him for that, despite Saul treating David with disdain and disrespect. David always took the high road and defended Saul and his family. In an act of grace and mercy to Saul’s family, David found the one remaining heir, Mephibosheth, to Saul’s legacy and restored Saul’s estate to him. In 2 Samuel 9:3, we get a glimpse into David’s heart:
2 Samuel 9:3
Then the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?”
And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.”
David understood that he was actng as God’s ambassador at all times. He was anointed king over Israel, not to lord it over them, but to serve them, to show God’s grace and mercy. To show God’s kindness to Mephibosheth, David restored all the land owned by Saul to Mephibosheth and his children. In order to do this, David had to put aside his own heart and follow after God’s. If you look at 2 Samuel 5:8, you see a glimpse of David’s attitude toward the lame:
2 Samuel 5:8
Now David said on that day, “Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be chief and captain.” Therefore they say, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”
Because Mephibosheth was lame, David would have “hated him in his soul.” Following after God’s heart, we see David put his personal issues with the lame aside and treat Mephibosheth with God’s kindness, grace, and mercy.
Heavenly Father, You are holy. There is none like You. Thank You for the example of David and his close relationship with You. Lord, draw me close to You, so close that I cannot help but follow after Your own heart and demonstrate Your love, grace, mercy, and kindness to all those You entrust to me by placing them in my path, whether friend or foe. Lord, draw me so close that when I stray from You the emptiness in m heart is so great that I cannot help but repent and return to You.
In Jesus Name.