Acts 13:20 After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ 23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior–Jesus
I truly believe every man wants to be great, and while being great means so many different things to different people, I believe it would be wise to hear the statement “A Man After God’s Own Heart,” and want to model your life after such a man. David, the son of Jesse was the FIRST man which God selected to be king of Israel. You are saying, that is not true; Saul was the first King. I would agree with you that Saul was the first King, but he was not God’s choice. You see God, himself wanted to be our one and only King (we’ll dig into that more later), however the children of Israel where not satisfied with His Kingship. In 1 Samuel 8 we learn that the children of Israel desired to be “like all other nations,” when they requested that Samuel (who was the current Judge of Israel, a position given to the one God selected to be High Priest) give them a King to reign over them as his replacement. This was displeasing to Samuel and God, so He let them have what they wanted in Saul. It was literally only 5 chapters later that Samuel would inform Saul of his firing and soon replacement. 1 Samuel 13:14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
Let’s dig into this a little bit more. There are two Truths we should know about God’s leadership:
- God Will Never Force His Leadership on Man: God provided leadership for the children of Israel for nearly 500 years, which included His desired leadership structure (Judges) and method of selection (God). However, Israel determined that they wanted new leadership and they wanted to be like other countries. This was because their current leader, Samuel, whom God placed in charge, was getting old and he was allowing his sons to lead the people. Samuel’s sons were dishonest, they did not follow their father’s example, taking bribes and perverting justice. Now my intentions today were not to find any correlation between our current administration (2020) and Samuel’s corrupted sons, so I will not (even if it certainly seems like there are definite similarities). Anyway, God knew that His leadership was the best for Israel, but since they did not want it, He allowed them to choose something different. The same thing is true for us today, we need God’s leadership and following Him is the best thing for us. However, when we desire to do something different or when our way seems better than His; God is willing to allow us to make that decision.
As a parent, there have been many of times when my kids did not agree with my leadership and desired something else, but I was not willing to oblige them, yet God is so gracious that He does not hold our ignorance against us. God is Omnipotent (all powerful) and Omniscient (all knowing), so unlike me as a parent, He knows the future and has the power to change it. Because of that His ways will always be better than ours, even if He will not force us to follow Him.
- God’s Criteria is Vastly Different Than Man’s: There was a vast difference between Man’s selection for King and God’s. The Lord sought for Himself a man after His own heart. God allowed Saul to be King, but God sought for Himself, a man to hold this important office. The word sought, in Hebrew the meaning of this term is to search out (by any method, specifically in worship or prayer). We look at resumes, credentials and letters of recommendations when filling a position, God searches the heart; and what he found in David was a man after His own heart. So, what did God see in David’s heart that so moved Him to make David King? Here is the amazing thing about God; we’ve talked about is Omniscience and it was prevalent in this story. Samuel is informing Saul about God’s decision, even though his replacement was not anointed for some time after this declaration. Saul did not meet God’s criteria, but he satisfied man’s desires, he looked the part. Yet, the entire time God had already selected who His first King would ultimately be.
We would later learn that it was David’s WHIP that made such an awesome impact of God. Of course, it would seem that I’m trying to be “Cool Dad” a little bit, using an old term to seem cool (my kids would call me out for it). A WHIP is a term that in politics refers to an official of a political party whose task is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. So, this is a leader who is tagged with the responsibility of ensuring that everyone is following the same rules/laws. But it has also simply come to represent a car. It has been said that it was used a long time ago when a whip would be used to steer the horse-drawn carriages. Yet even more than a car, more of a status symbol, the coolness or expense of your car speaks of how one sees themselves or others. Well what would I use that here, because it was the status of David’s heart that attracted God to him. What then is David’s WHIP, and is it something that we should all desire?
- Worship: David truly understood worship; the act of attributing reverent honor and homage to God. He acknowledged all of God’s wonderful attributes, he received God’s love and told God how special he was. If you don’t believe me, check out the numerous psalms that David drafted probably just after he’d sang them to the Lord; many we are familiar with and others are still to be explored. David found out through worship, that it moved the heart of God, He is always on the lookout for it “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him (John 4:23).”
- Humility: The definition for humility is “freedom from pride or arrogance.” That really captured David to a tee, he was willing to defer from pride even when he knew God had anointed him King. Whether it was serving and honoring a father that did not deem him valuable or serving a King that he knew he would soon replace. He was able to detach from pride and even when he was arrogant he was able to (95% of the time) immediately acknowledge his wrongs and be transparent with God (Psalm 51:4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight).
- Integrity: David’s character was at times impeccable; he trusted and served God with the utmost distinction. He responded to God given authority with such humility and professionalism; so much so, that while Saul attempted to kill him every time, he had an opportunity to harm, he refrained because of God’s word. David did the right thing even when nobody was around. David knew that continual assessment to maintain his integrity (Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting). Allowing God to challenge him and share with him those areas we typically try to hide, that takes courage and David demonstrated this constantly. I wish we all had David’s Integrity.
- Prayer: One thing David understood was where his help came from, (Psalm 121… I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord…). The key to this understanding, however, was David knew how to access this help, he communicated with God more than anyone besides Jesus. David was constantly in conversation with God, whether seeking guidance, giving praise or even cursing his current situation. David consistently talked to God; he believed that he moved the heart of God with his worship, and moved the hand of God with his praise, yet his prayer life made it all possible. David models the value of a powerful prayer life, the consistent communication with God opened his heart to receive direction and favor for the people he was charged to lead.
We cannot be David, but we can use David’s example to help us move to the next level of relationship with God. If we want to be men after God’s heart, we need to inspect our WHIP. How is your Worship, Humility, Integrity and Prayer??