David, the second king over Israel, was identified as being a “man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14) That has to be one of the greatest testimonies ever given to a man. An examination of David’s life will show why he was identified in such glowing terms. We can learn much from the character, and example of David. We should want to be those who are “after God’s own heart,” and we can mimic the characteristics exhibited by David to grow into that type of people.
David was brave. Even when victory seemed virtually impossible, David was willing to stand and fight on the side of God. When the rest of the army of Israel was cowering in humiliation at the mocking of the Philistine giant, Goliath, David was ready to go to battle. He was willing to face impossible odds, even when the king himself was not willing to fight. David’s bravery did not end with his defeat of Goliath. He went on to become a great warrior. In fact, by the time David’s reign came near to its end, he was restrained from building the temple because he had shed too much blood. That task was left for his son, Solomon.
David was faithful. Throughout his life, David was faithful to God. That does not mean that David was perfect. In fact, most know that he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba. He also covered up his sin by having Bathsheba’s husband killed. Some may ask: how could he sin like this, and still be a man after God’s own heart? David was a man of righteous character. Even in this instance, he was willing to repent and turn back to God. God sent the prophet Nathan to David to rebuke him. David responded with remorse, asking God for forgiveness. In fact, we can see David’s deep remorse in one of his greatest psalms, Psalm 51.
David was merciful. David, before becoming king, was relentlessly pursued by King Saul, who suspected David of wanting to usurp the throne. David, on more than one occasion, had opportunity to kill the king, but refused to do so. In fact, on one occasion, David said that he would not raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 26:22). By this time, David had already been chosen, and anointed as the new king over Israel. He was just waiting for the death of the current king so that he could take his rightful place. Had he not had this characteristic, it would have been easy for him to slay the king so that he could take the throne.
David was humble. One of the greatest characteristic of David was that he had the humility to know that he was able to accomplish things only through the power of God. He did not take credit for his accomplishments, but gave all the credit to God. We can return once again to the example of the slaying of Goliath. David assured King Saul that he would be victorious because the Lord would help him. (See 1 Samuel 17:37) When facing the giant, David told Goliath that he (David) would be successful because the Lord would give him the victory (1 Samuel 17:46).
We need to adopt these same types of characteristics. We may be surprised about what we might be able to accomplish if we develop characteristics that are “after God’s own heart.” Think of how our relationships with others would improve (not to mention our relationship with God) if we would start acting more like David.
Bravery is a characteristic that is often overlooked today. Being willing to stand for the truth of God’s word is not considered “politically correct”, as there are many things that people want to participate in today that are clearly condemned by God’s word. It is easy to succumb to the temptation to water down the truth to make it more appeasing to the people who refuse to change their lifestyle for God. Even in ever changing circumstances, where governments try to legislate morality without a consideration for the will of God, we must be willing to teach the truth. That may be, and probably will be, detrimental to those who wish to remain faithful to God, but it should not change the actions of the faithful. We must have the bravery to confront whatever “Goliath” we may have to face, and trust that the Lord will be on our side!
We also must remain faithful. Like David, we will not be perfect, but we can still be faithful. We must be willing to follow the commands that God has given to us, and recognize when we fail. We must be willing to show our remorse at our failure, returning again to faithful service. How we react to those that would point out our shortcomings will dictate whether we are faithful or not. If we become so self-centered as to believe that we cannot or do not sin, then we will certainly be separated from our God (1 John 1:10). May we dedicate ourselves to faithful service, and when we fall, repent and ask for the forgiveness of God (1 John 2:1-2).
It is imperative that we learn to be merciful. How quick are we to jump at the faults and failures of others? How often do we take every opportunity to mistreat those that we consider to be our enemies? David’s example is one of mercy, even when it is difficult, and even when he was being mistreated. So many times, we treat people well when they treat us well. However, the true measure of our character comes when we are not treated well. If we are able to be merciful to those who have mistreated us (as David was toward King Saul), then we have truly adopted the character of David.
Finally, we must learn the humility shown by David. In this “me first” generation, it is easy to believe that we have accomplished so much by ourselves, and for ourselves. But, we really need to give the credit, and praise, to God. He is the one who has given us “every good gift and every perfect gift” according to James (James 1:17). Surely we are not so pompous as to believe that we have enough power to provide everything for ourselves! God is the source of our talents, He is the source of our opportunities, and He is the source of our every blessing. When we realize that God is our provider, we will not view ourselves as being so important. That is the very foundation of our humility.
There are many more lessons that we can learn from King David, but these will give us a glimpse into his life, and a glimpse into why he was considered to be a “man after God’s own heart.” If we can imitate his godly characteristics, we can be those who are “after God’s own heart” as well!