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The Heart of David: a Man after God’s own Heart

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The scriptures tell us that David was “a man after God’s own heart.” Isn’t that something that we would want God to say about us, too? With that thought in mind, let’s take a journey though some of David’s writings; those expressions of his heart that we need to make our own.

David’s love and zeal for God is evident in everything he expressed on paper; which leads us to conclude that God is first in his life. –

O God, you are my God; early will I seek you: my soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is (Psalm 63:1).
My soul follows hard after You: Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).
I will love you, O LORD, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, in whom I will trust; my buckler,
(shield) and the horn (power) of my salvation, and my high tower (stronghold or fortress) – (Psalm 18:1,2).

David thirsts for God, he seeks Him with all of his heart. David knew that God is his rock, the foundation that he stands upon; and the protective wall that surrounds him and the high tower that watches over him. Nothing and no one in David’s life supplants this relationship of love and trust.

David’s zealous love for God spills out from his soul and attaches itself firmly to God’s word in an inseparable bond; for one cannot profess a love for God and not also have a love for His word.

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day (Psalm 119:97).

David not only loves God’s word, he values it and treasures it above material wealth.

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as all riches (Psalm 119:14).
Therefore I love Your commandments above gold; yes, above fine gold (Psalm 119:127).
The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver (Psalm 119:72).

David valued God’s word more than any earthly riches. How many of us can say that? Yet, as we grow in the Lord, we come to understand that the things we cannot see are more valuable than what we can see and touch with our hands.

David’s recognition of the value of God’s word and the reward that comes to those who obey it (Psalm 19), expresses an underlying gift of wisdom that we should all be seeking as well.

David’s love for God and his word, made him faithful and tenacious when faced with persecution because of this love. That persecution only drove him into God’s arms for help.–

All Your commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help me (Psalm 119:86).
O LORD my God, in You do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me: (Psalm 7:1)
My times are in Your hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me (Psalm 31:15).

Today, many are being persecuted for standing up for the Gospel and God’s holy Word. Let us emulate David’s trust and uncompromised stance, and also run to be spiritually hidden under the safety of God’s wings.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusts in You: yes, in the shadow of Your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast (Psalm 57:1).

David’s love for God and His word, naturally produced in his heart a revulsion of evil. His soul was vexed by those who disregarded God’s law and abused it.

Horror has taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake your law (Psalm 119:53).
I beheld the transgressors and was grieved; because they did not keep Your word (Psalm 119:158).
Rivers of waters run down my eyes, because they do not keep Your law (Psalm 119:136).
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God (Psalm 9:17).

David’s assessment of the wicked who forsake God’s word, is not originating from a self-righteous perspective, but one of “horror” and “grief” that originates from his knowledge of our righteous, loving God, the value of God’s instructions for the welfare of mankind; and also from his knowledge of the fate of the wicked.

Salvation is far from the wicked: for they do not seek Your statues (Psalm 119:155).

While David was aware of the fate of the wicked, he also had a keen awareness of his own vulnerability to sin. His hatred of evil resulted in a determination to avoid it.

Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:11).
Therefore I esteem all Your precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way (Psalm 119:128).

When David did sin through the weakness of his flesh, he was humble and willing to admit his flaws and repent.

I said, LORD, be merciful to me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against You (Psalm 41:4).
For I will declare my iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin (Psalm 38:18).

Humility and a readiness to repent are treasures in his soul that should be coveted for our own, as well as a hatred of evil and a love for God’s word.

David’s love and submission to God’s authority in his life made him willing to let God change him from the inside out.

Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults (Psalm 19:12).
Keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression (Psalm 19:13).

David’s love for God also enabled him to accept and receive God’s correction.

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Your word (Psalm 119:67).
It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn Your statues (Psalm 119:71).

David was faithful to God and did not waiver when bad things happened. And he never turned on God when he was enduring correction.

The foundation of David’s relationship with God was a child-like trust and dependence.

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother. My soul is even as a weaned child (Psalm 131:1,2).

David, the great king of Israel and mighty warrior, saw himself as a humble child. That was the status of his heart before God, which outweighed any of his earthly achievements. Thus his soul was not encapsulated with a “macho” ego that would have erected a barrier between himself and his Creator. Sadly, too many are prevented from having a David-like relationship with God because of pride and their refusal to humble themselves and become vulnerable to God.

This child David, was never too proud to cry out to God in times of distress. David did not see himself as self-sufficient. He came running to God as a child to a parent for help and comfort. David was never ashamed to express his emotions to God, just as little children are uninhibited in expressing their needs and their love. We can see David reaching up to God as a tiny, dependent child desiring to be nurtured.

David’s heart recognized that unlike many earthly fathers who abuse their children, David knew he could reach up to God in confidence because he understood the loving qualities of God’s nature.

For You Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and generous in mercy to all them that call upon You (Psalm 86:5).
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, patient, and generous in mercy and truth (Psalm 86:15).

David’s recognition of God’s compassion, enabled him to understand God’s heart in regards to the poor.

Blessed is he that considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness (Psalm 41:1-3).
The wicked in his pride does persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined (Psalm 10:2).

To have the heart of David, is to also have a heart for the poor.

David’s passion for God expressed itself in spontaneous praise for the Center and Focus of his life.

I will bless the Lord at all times: (the good and the bad) His praise shall continually be in my mouth (Psalm 34:1).

David’s relationship with God was also based on a reverent fear of the Lord. –

God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him (Psalm 89:7).
For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens (Psalm 96:4,5).

God is to be feared and held in reverence above all the material gods of men; gods who are but nothing in comparison to the greatness and majesty of the One True God.
    David’s reverent fear of God and His power, kept his relationship with God balanced and in perspective. God’s love and mercy is coupled with His awesome power over the lives of men. Man is not God and is subservient to Him, a principle that David understood and this principle undergirded his relationship with God. This principle is designed to keep our human egos in check and maintain a healthy humility that God values.

But I am poor and needy: make haste to me, O God: You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying (Psalm 70:5).

So many Christians are content to wade in the shallows in their relationship with God through Jesus. But David was not afraid to plunge into the depths of the great flowing river of the Lord and allowed himself to be carried by the current.

Never be afraid to abandon your soul to God and make David’s words and his prayers your own. And don’t hesitate to emulate David’s practice of expressing his heart on paper and write some Psalms of your own.

David wasn’t perfect, but his heart’s attitude toward God was. And that’s what made him a man after God’s own heart.

Copyright 2022 by H.D. Shively

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