“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.” Psalm 51:10-13
Have you ever wondered why David is referred to as a man after God’s own heart? I have, too. When I think of God, I think of an all knowing Saviour who does not sin, and can do no wrong. But, David. Oh, David. Look at all the ways he failed.
We know him as a King, and we also know him for his two major sins, murder and adultery. In 2 Samuel 11:1-5, David sees a beautiful woman bathing, and instead of looking away he asks about her. He’s told that she is married, but instead leaving it at that, he orders her to come to him and takes her into his bed. She becomes pregnant, and David tries to cover it up. In verses 6-13, we see that he attempts numerous times to have Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, go home and be with his wife to cover the true identity of this baby’s father. But Uriah refuses to go home, despite King David’s attempts. David became frustrated and desperate. In verses 14-27, we read a detailed account of how King David orders Uriah back to the battle lines, right into the line of fire, so that he will die. Upon his death, King David takes Bathsheba into his home to be his wife.
It seems that David understood his sins, and tried to cover them up as best he could. But verse 27 says that the Lord was greatly displeased. And yet, David is a man after His own heart. How can this be?
We also know King David to be a writer of many of the Psalms. Psalm 51:10-13 shows one of the examples of why David fit this description. He had a repentant heart. In these verses, we can see he recognizes how he has sinned. Sin separated him from God. We see he understands he has fallen out of God’s presence, and he calls out to God to restore him.
David does this over and over and over again. Throughout the psalms, he is continually seeking God. I may not fully understand all of the reasons why David is called a man after God’s own heart, but I do understand this: “I said to the Lord, You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” David was wise enough to understand that everything he had, anything good in his life, was a blessing and a gift from God.
Not only that, David desired to have an intimate relationship with God. He craved God. He made God a priority in his life. Psalm 84:2 says, “I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.”
A repentant heart. A desire for God. These are some of the ways David measured up to the title a man after God’s own heart. How many of us fall short from this time and time again? How many of us are actively repenting and desiring? Let’s look at these two things a little more closely.
Let’s face it, this is a hard word. Before we can get to this place, we need to acknowledge what we are doing is wrong. And that’s a hard thing to do. How many of us want to admit we’re no good? How many of us have failed to repent?
Repentance is defined as the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition for regret or past wrongs. It generally involves a commitment to personal change and resolving to live a more responsible and humane life. This is a great description, but the best description I have ever heard was actually an object lesson.
My son is preparing to be baptized later this summer, and our pastor is meeting with him regularly to talk about baptism and what it means to be a Christian. During one of their lessons, they were talking about repentance. He described it as turning away from sin. He had my son walk towards as wall, and when he called “repent!” my son would turn around and walk the other way. It was a physical reminder of what repentance really means.
At first, we won’t be successful in turning away from sin. But bit by bit, we will be. Repenting is honouring God. It pleases Him. And shouldn’t we be wanting to make God happy with our choices and our decisions? We should be living for Him. Repentance is the beginning.
The definition of desire is something that one wishes for, craves or wants. It can also be described as a longing for something that can bring enjoyment and satisfaction. What are the things that you crave? What are the things that you most want? Desiring God needs to be the first among any other thing that might make that list.
I have had a lot to learn in this area, and I am far from perfect in my walk with God. In fact, let me tell you there is no such thing as a perfect Christian. We are absolutely an imperfect people. But I do long to be a person who desires God above all else. So where does one start?
I believe the best way to start is by prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. David actively did all three of these things. David actually lays out a wonderful example of how prayer, praise and thanksgiving can unite to become one thing. Most of his psalms have him crying out to God in prayer, praising God for who He is, and thanking God for all He has done. Psalm 86 is a great example of this.
But prayer, praise and thanksgiving aren’t enough. We need to be actively reading His word as well. I remember sitting in a church service a few months ago, where the pastor stated a startling statistic that struck me in the heart. According to a LifeWay survey, 80% of church goers do not read their Bible. I sat there shocked until it dawned on me. I didn’t. I hadn’t been. Here I had this wonderful, life altering book in my hands. How many times had I opened it the previous week? I am ashamed to admit, I hadn’t once. And why hadn’t I been? Because, to be honest, it felt like a chore.
How did I get to that place? From the moments God breathed His truths into my heart to the moment I realized I hadn’t opened my Bible all week? If we’re going to be completely honest, it was longer than a week. It was my own fault, and I felt betrayed.
The best way to get back into reading the Bible is to just pick it up, open it and read. I found passages of scripture I had previously underlined breathed truths right back into my heart and I went from there. There are many daily Bible reading plans available, you just have to choose one that interests you. Start there and watch how your life changes.
David was a man after God’s own heart. It should be our desire to be people after His own heart, too. What can you do today to start strengthening your relationship with Him?