Friday, October 25, 2013

after his own heart

Happy Friday!  Today I'm linking up with Susannah and Bailey on what it means to be a people after God's own heart. 
Simple Moments Stick
"I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will."
-Acts 13:22b (esv)
The Israelites thought that they had it all in King Saul.  He was brave, strong and powerful.  He was everything they thought a king would be, back when they demanded that God give them a king.  He conquered the neighboring Philistines and defeated all of their enemies.  In Israel, Saul was The Man.  I imagine that he was wildly popular amongst his people.  He went from being a small-town boy to Israel's first king - he was the epitome of success in ancient Israel.   
"When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned he routed them. And he did valiantly and struck the Amalekites and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them." - 1 Samuel 14:47-48
I'm sure it appeared to the Israelites that if anyone was a man after God's own heart, it would have been Saul.  He was clearly a born leader and not afraid of anyone.  And after all, hadn't God hand-picked Saul to be their first king and led him to victory after victory?   

But then Saul did something.  Something which revealed what he truly thought of God and himself.  He was preparing for battle against the Philistines and gathering the Israelite army at Gilgal.  Samuel the Prophet was to join him in seven days, to ask for the Lord's blessing before the battle.  But Samuel was late.  Saul's army was beginning to disburse and he was losing patience.  So instead of trusting God's timing Saul took matters into his own hands and offered up his own (unlawful) sacrifice, ignoring all of the rules the Lord set forth in the OT for offering of sacrifices.  In Saul's mind, the sacrifice was merely an item to check off the list before he brought glory to himself in victory of battle.

You see, Saul didn't think that he truly needed God.  He treated the sacrifice as a just a mandatory ritual instead of a holy communion with the One who had the power to bless him or destroy him.

"And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”  - 1 Samuel 13:13-14

So God replaced Saul with David, the "man after God's own heart."  How was David different from Saul?  He wasn't perfect.  In fact, he was quite imperfect.  We all know the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), for example - how David slept with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed so that David could marry her.  Not exactly a classy move.  David was most definitely human and most definitely flawed.

But here's the thing - David truly loved God.  Almost the entire book of Psalms is filled with songs of David to his Lord.  In those psalms, David bared his heart before God.  In some, he is filled to the brim with pure joy and adoration.  In others, he cries out in desperation for the help of the Lord.  In others, he laments a feeling of separation from God due to his sinful ways.  In even others, he marvels at God's unfailing love and faithfulness, which support him regardless of how many times he messes up. 

David knew with absolute certainty that he truly needed God, all the time.  If David sinned, he knew he needed God.  If he was going into battle, he knew he wouldn't be victorious without God.  If he was being hunted down by Saul to be killed (which happened a lot), he knew only the Lord would save him.  If he was celebrating, he knew the celebration wasn't complete without sharing his joy with his God. 

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23:6 (esv)

David brought God into every corner and crevice of his life - which is what God truly seeks from us.  God wants to be in communion with us and for us to draw closer to Him... because He always longs to be close to us.  I think that David was a man after God's own heart because he heard that deep longing in the heart of the Lord.  And because David listened (albeit not always perfectly), the Lord was able to use him to build an empire centered in Jerusalem, the glorious City of David.  And God gave him the most honored blessing of all: David's bloodline would eventually lead to the birth of Jesus the Christ who make a perfect reconciliation the Lord to his people ("Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" - Matthew 1:1).  Wow.  Because David listened, God really used him - in incredible ways.

To be a (wo)man after God's own heart, I think we can learn best by looking to David's example.  Sure, we will never be perfect.  Like both Saul and David, we are bound to make mistakes and to sin.  But we each have a decision to make - will we choose to truly rely upon God with our lives, in good times and in bad, or will we try to take control and manipulate circumstances the way we think is best for each of us?  The latter will surely lead to our own defeat, like Saul.  The former can only bring us closer to the Lord and allow Him to use us in powerful, glorifying ways that we can't even imagine.  Through (wo)men after God's own heart, the Lord can do incredible things.
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