EXAMPLES FROM THE PAST
By Orville Freestone
DAVID – A HEART FOR GOD
“A man after God’s own heart” –
I Sam. 13:14
David was a very complex person; a shepherd, a musician, a warrior and a king, but his distinguishing characteristic was he had a heart for God. Unlike Saul, who justified himself when denounced by the prophet, David was repentant when accused of sin. David was a warrior who credited God for his success. (Psalm 18:20) He was a very sensitive person showing deep emotion in his psalms. As Israel’s king, he became the standard by which all his successors were judged.
David was the youngest son of Jesse (I Sam. 16:11-13) so it was he who cared for the sheep. At that time the wealth of a family was in sheep and cattle. Shepherding was menial work, but it was also a responsibility and David proved faithful in this position. He led the flocks to “green pastures” and beside “still waters” and defended them from wild beasts. (I Sam. 17:34) As a youth he showed not only bravery, but confidence in the Lord when he faced Goliath. He was “mighty and valiant,” (I Sam. 16:18) but humble and discreet and “the Lord was with him” (I Sam. 18:14) This was true throughout his life. He was genuinely humble. He was respectful toward Saul even when Saul sought to kill him. He honored the king as “the Lord’s anointed.” He was humble before the Lord when he put off his royal robes to dance and warship before the Ark of God. When his wife Mical rebuked him for not behaving like a king, he brushed off her criticism.
As a warrior, he led his troops and shared their dangers. He gathered a motley group of misfits (I Sam. 22:2) and welded them into a formidable force that became the core of his army. They were fiercely loyal to him. His personal bravery and loyalty won them to his cause. When all the tribes hailed him as king, he was able to build them into a nation. By treaty and by war he created a “greater Israel” that reached from Egypt to the Euphrates river.
In those days the first order of business for a new king was to secure his throne by eliminating all who might contest his claim. This David did not do. Most of those who would oppose his right to the throne were dead. Contrary to custom, David sought to find any of the house of Saul who were still living to “show kindness to” them. (2 Sam. 9) He found crippled Mephibosheth son of Jonathan. His love for Jonathan was tender and true and he secured his rights and property to his only remaining heir. His one great desire was to build a temple for The Lord to house the ark of God and the Law. This The Lord forbid him to do, but said that his son should build it. So David gathered all the materials on site before he died.
David was an acclaimed musician. Their music was very different from our western style and we do not know for sure how it sounded or what the musical terms for the psalms mean, but a measure of their greatness and of the others in the Book of Psalms is that they deeply affect us today. What is more familiar to Christians today then The Twenty Third Psalm? David’s music could lift Saul out of his depression and his poetry does the same for us.
David was not always wise concerning those to whom he entrusted responsibility, such as Abner who was not always loyal, or Joab and Abishai, David’s kin, who killed Abner. (2 Sam. 3:30) Nor was he wise in dealing with his sons. However, at the end of his life, only one thing was held against him, his great sin in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. David greatly wronged his friend and faithful warrior by committing adultery with his wife, then compounded the crime by having Uriah killed in battle. (2 Sam. 15:5)
The measure of his greatness was that when Nathan the prophet confronted him with this great sin, David said those seldom spoken words “I have sinned.” (2 Sam. 12:13) What other ancient oriental king would have accepted such reproof? God forgave David but he did not escape the consequences, which he humbly accepted. It was this repentance and his attitude toward God that made him “a man after God’s own heart!