On the days I push “snooze” less than five times, I’ve been reading about David. God calls him a man after His own heart, and it would be great if I could figure out why, so maybe I could be that too (only the girl version, of course).
The problem is, I can’t find a good reason why God gave this honored description to David. He’s a polygamist who committed adultery and murdered the husband to cover it up, whose country rebelled against him more than once, who failed to discipline his own children (who ended up killing each other), who took a census in direct defiance of God’s command (probably because he didn’t quite trust God enough for impending war and put his faith instead in his vast human armies). I read about a screwed-up-mess-of-a-king, sandwiched in the Bible between pages of heroes. Why would a God so just and powerful love a man so fickle and unpredictable and at times downright evil when there are so many “better” people?
And yet, there it is. Acts 13:22. “…he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart…” [italics mine]. God loved David’s heart, even when David’s actions failed Him.
A commonly quoted verse is that “man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Ironically, this verse is in 1 Samuel 16:7 when God sends Samuel to find the new king of Israel from among Jesse’s sons. David is the smallest and least kinglike, and Samuel doesn’t even consider him at first. Man looks at appearance and at prestige, and man looks at outward actions. Samuel was tempted to pick a king by who looked most like a king. The Christian diligently reading her Bible in the wee morning hours sees David’s adulterous and murderous and faithless deeds, and asks how God could dare to call him such a thing when many “good” people have lived so much better lives. (Wo)man looks at outward appearance.
But look again, Sister. Look at the little runt whose heart God saw, who became a strong and handsome king. Look at the Psalms written by David, and at the pain you see there in his sin when he tears his kingly robes and falls face-first in the dust before God. And look at the jubilee you see in his triumphs as he dances before God in the streets, despite His wife’s ashamed protests, and when he tells her he “will be even more undignified than this” before the Lord (2 Samuel 6).
Look as best you can at David’s heart. Look and see a sinful human with a heart attune to God. Look and see a man after God’s own heart.