What does it mean to be a man after God’s own heart? We are told that David pleased God, and that he was a man after God’s own heart. We also recognize him as a model of what it means to be a man of faith. We know that he wrote many of the Psalms, and was considered a very good King, but are these the things that make him a man after God’s own heart? Lets examine the Scriptures to find out what was so special about David.
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. 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. (Acts 13:21-22)
We know that God was not happy with Saul, which is why he was eventually replaced by David as king. But what did Saul do to displease God?
And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 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.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14)
Samuel makes it very clear that the reason Saul was removed is because he did not keep God’s commandments. This is in contrast to what a man after God’s own heart would do. He was seeking a king who would keep His commandments, and so, he selected David to become king.
David loved the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and this love finds expression in obedience. That is why John writes,
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)
David was known for his Psalms, and his love for music and dance. Let’s examine the words that he wrote in the Psalms to see if they reveal the desire of his heart.
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)
We see from the very first Psalm that David is already talking about delighting and meditating on the law, and you will see that this is a common theme in his writings. He would not sing about his love for the commandments if he did not actually love them. Now, lets take just a moment to read over some other Psalms he wrote.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-8)
The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, And his tongue talks of justice. The law of his God is in his heart; None of his steps shall slide. (Psalm 37:30-31)
I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)
Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, And teach out of Your law. (Psalm 94:12)
1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord… 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments… 18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law… 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. 35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it… 44 So shall I keep Your law continually, Forever and ever. 45 And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts… 47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love… 60 I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments… 72 The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver… 77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; For Your law is my delight… 92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. 93 I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life… 97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts… 113 I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law. 114You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. 115 Depart from me, you evildoers, For I will keep the commandments of my God… 126 It is time for You to act, O Lord, For they have regarded Your law as void. 127 Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold… 131 I opened my mouth and panted, For I longed for Your commandments… 136 Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law. (Psalm 119:1-136)
It sure sounds like David had a heart for God’s Law. Did you notice that he always speaks highly about the Law, and he encourages others to have this same attitude about it. His delight was in the Law of God, and his desire was to obey with his whole heart.
Now, one last thing to consider is the legacy that he wanted to leave to his son. This is important, because he was leaving Solomon in charge of the entire Kingdom of Israel, and he would want his son to be a good king and follow in his father’s footsteps. So, what did David pray for his son before he died?
And give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision.” (1 Chronicles 29:19)
A father’s prayer for his son comes from the deepest desires of his heart. The only reason for David to pray this way for his son is because he truly loved the Law of God, and truly wanted his son to keep the commandments.
Now listen to what God said to Solomon when he became king.
Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father…” (1 Kings 9:4-5)
It is pretty clear from the Scriptures that God’s desire is for us to obey Him, and it is apparent that David was a man after God’s own heart, who made it his delight to keep the commandments. By now it should be obvious to you that to be a man after God’s own heart, like David was, is to be a man who pursues God’s Law, and who seeks to delight in and obey God’s commandments. This is what it means to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
I want to close this teaching with God’s own words, expressing the desire He has for His people.
Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever! (Deuteronomy 5:29)