The Heart of God
“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22 NIV
This verse is more profound than one might recognize at first reading. It is (in context), only a small part of the connection that the Apostle Paul showed between the prophets of old and the present day of grace. That amazing grace, of course, is the result of Jesus’ death on the cross.
But, on a deeper level, it actually tells us much about “The heart of God.” Samuel said that God (in removing Saul as king) had “sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people” (1 Samuel 13:14). I understand the “heart” of a person is the thing(s) that motivates him to action. Likewise “the heart of God” suggests what it takes to please God, or what is the motivation of His actions. So, if David was a man whose heart was like the heart of God, we can learn much about God’s heart by observing David. Even though these events were yet future, God saw them through time, even before He chose David to be king.
- David was a man of war and bloodshed. Because of that, God did not allow David to build the temple. Somehow, the two functions were inconsistent and the building of the temple was left for David’s son, Solomon, to complete. (1 Chronicles 28:3) But, just because God denied something David wanted, does not mean that God did not love David or that He had rejected him entirely.
- David was an adulterer and a murderer. David had relations with Bathsheba while she was married to another. And, when she became pregnant, David had her husband killed (2 Samuel 11). It is totally inconsistent to imagine that a righteous God would be pleased with those actions (or any blatantly sinful actions.) Still, knowing that God chose a man with such major faults, gives insight into God’s heart.
- David had true faith in God’s wisdom and providence. When Bathsheba gave birth to David’s son, the child died just seven days after birth (2 Samuel 12). During those seven days, David fasted and prayed for God to heal the child. When the child died, David cleaned himself up, went to the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then, he went home and ate food. His servants asked “Why?” In 2 Samuel 12:22-23, David answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.'”
God is never pleased with sin. Habakkuk 1:13 states, “ Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” Still, God accepted David and called him to lead God’s people – even though he had sinned miserably. Why? Doubtless, there were many factors that God considered. But I believe the deciding factor was that David’s motivation was that he wanted to please God.
The fact that David sinned with Bathsheba only reveals that he was mortal. He was tempted and misled by his emotions. Still, his heart’s deepest desire was to please God. So he fasted and prayed for God to heal his child. That consuming desire to please God was the reason for practically every choice that David made during his lifetime.
God’s testimony that David “will do everything I want him to do” revealed His own heart. God said that David had the motivation (heart) to please God. Even when God’s actions were not what David chose, he accepted God’s decision as best. It is that “child-like” faith in the wisdom and providence of God that pleases God. It is the virtue that God found similar to His own heart. God could put aside David’s failures because He saw David’s heart and his potential. When we display such faith in God, He will look on us in the same way.