In God’s words, “a man after My own heart.” (Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 13:14)
Have you ever wondered…why?
This man who proved himself capable of lust.
Which led to adultery.
Which led to murder. (2 Samuel 11)
How did this man go down in the annals of history and in the very Word of God as a man after God’s own heart?
To be honest, I’m not really sure.
The Bible doesn’t tell us. At least not in that black-and-white way that leaves no doubt.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t draw some pretty sound conclusions based on what the Bible does say.
When I think of David’s life and read his writings, I’m struck by one trait that David exemplifies more than anyone else in Scripture, and very likely more than any human being I’ve ever known:
complete and unvarnished honesty with God.
Reading the Psalms is like taking a roller coaster ride inside the mind of a psychotic lunatic. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! (Psalm 4:1)
Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray. (Psalm 5:1-2)
O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes. (Psalm 6:1-7)
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:1-4)
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:1-2)
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1-2)
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears. (Psalm 18:1-6)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame. (Psalm 22:1-5)
Half-crazed, at the very least.
“A Man After My Own Heart”
Or maybe…just maybe these are the words of a very normal person with very normal emotions who is actually willing to tell God the truth. Who is willing to trust that God is big enough to handle every ugly thing we can throw His way.
Because God doesn’t want my platitudes or my cliches.
He doesn’t want my brave face or my “I’m doing fine” or my grin-and-bear-it.
He wants my heart.
Even – and maybe even especially – when it doesn’t come nice and neat and pretty, complete with gift-wrap and a bow on top.
His invitation to cast our cares on Him (I Peter 5:7)…
His summons to approach His throne in our times of trouble (Hebrews 4:16)…
all of that is more than enough and so much more than we deserve, isn’t it?
And yet our breathtakingly beautiful God goes even beyond that.
Because when I take the time to remove the mask and unveil the ugly and just be honest with Him, He looks into my eyes and listens like I’m significant, and then…
then I get so caught up in the wonder of His face, I wonder why I ever looked away in the first place.
And all of a sudden, the things of earth grow strangely dim.
The depression that derails me.
The delusion that derides me.
The defeat that deluges me.
It’s all still there, often unchanged.
But in a miraculous way I can attribute to God alone, its strength is smaller. Its power pruned.
And it all starts with making the choice to be raw and real with a God who could already see the very depths of my soul in the first place.
He wants a genuine and true relationship with me that much.
It’s a truth I overlook, but I have a feeling David understood it well.
And God knew the feeling was mutual.
“A man after God’s own heart” indeed.