What does it mean to be a man after God’s own heart?

people look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heartOf all the remarkable things about David — and when you are talking about a king/poet/musician/giant-slayer/lion-escaper, there are many to choose from — what intrigues me the most is that God would describe David as “a man after my own heart.”

If the God of the universe, who made us and loves us, describes a person in such fashion, I want to know what it means. I want to be like that.

Could it be David’s riches? No. When God said that, David had nothing. He was a skinny pre-teen shepherd.

Could it be David’s appearance? No, because when God was choosing a king to follow Saul, and he paraded Jesse’s sons past Samuel one-by-one, he said not to look at the outward man:

Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Sam. 16:6-7)

Courage must have played a part (and the faith from which the courage came). The seasoned warriors in Israel’s army were too scared to face Goliath, but the kid who wasn’t even shaving had faith that God would fight — and win — the battle for him. (1 Sam. 17)

David’s psalms reveal other clues. We know from that Scripture, where David poured out his soul, that David had a heart for praise.

I will tell of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you. I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:1-2)

He was honest with God when times were bad.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? how long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1-2)

But it was always with reverence and with faith in God’s goodness.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. (Psalm 13:5-6)

David had a zeal for God’s presence.

As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. (Psalm 42:1-2)

He loved God’s law.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. (Psalm 19:7)

He hated evil.

I hate the practice of transgression; it will not cling to me. (Psalm 101:3)

He loved righteousness, and sought to be righteous.

Search me, God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Now, David was far from perfect (the whole Bath-Sheba thing), but when he sinned, David repented.

Against you, and you only, have I sinned … was me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:3, 7)

In the end, David just loved God and was wholly dependent on Him.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

Some of us may not seem like much when it comes to the things that the world values. But God’s values are different, and he looks at the heart, not the outer man or woman. We can, like David, be a person after God’s own heart: Full of praise, longing to be near God, speaking to Him honestly, believing to our core in God’s goodness, hating evil and loving righteousness, repentant and dependent.

Yeah – I’m gonna need some help with that.

Where is your hope?

but i will hope continually.psalm 71-14Where is your hope?

When things are bleak and life is so hard that you have lost your way, where is your hope?

When someone you love rejects you, where is your hope?

When you’ve made a mistake you thought you would never make, where is your hope?

When crummy circumstances are wholly out of your control, where is your hope?

When our body withers away, the job stinks (or disappears), and the water heater is on the fritz, where do you turn for hope?

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

We desperately need hope. We cannot get through today’s trial if we cannot see tomorrow. We need to know that somehow, someway, it will all be okay in the end.

Then don’t turn within for hope. You already know you cannot handle it on your own.

Don’t turn to things for hope. They won’t last.

Other people are seldom better. Even the best intentioned are far from perfect.

Our hope, if we have any at all, is in God.

When I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. (Micah 7:8)

It is in a God who turns water into wine, the ordinary into something extraordinary.

It is in a God who has written the future.

It is in a God who changes hearts.

It is in a God who raises the dead.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life … Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

How many hopeless people came to Jesus, only to be made whole?

How many funerals did he turn into a celebration?

How many lame leapt for joy, how many blind turned their newly-opened eyes onto the face of their Savior?

Whatever you are going through, however dark and despairing it seems, is nothing he can’t fix. Your marriage is no deader than Jairus’ daughter. You are not as sick as Lazarus was after three days in the tomb. The obstacles at work are not as immovable as the Red Sea. They are all in his capable hands.

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. (Joel 2:25)

Of course, not every sea parts, and not every daughter rises again. Sometimes God doesn’t fix things the way we wish or act in ways we can see. It can be maddeningly confusing when you are stuck in darkness. But hope remains, because this same resurrected Savior performed the greatest miracle of all when he turned you into a forgiven Saint. No outcome to your immediate situation can change your destiny.

It means he can fix it, but even if he does not, your future is secure and you will never be alone, no matter what.

There is your hope.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20)

What do you bring to Jesus?

The first recorded gifts to the incarnate Word were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Bible treats the wise men well for these gifts, because they were gifts of worship. (They certainly weren’t practical gifts. What can a baby do with gold? I’ve … [Continue reading]

Parenthood teaches us about God’s love

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American Sniper: We like it because it doesn’t make fun of us


Our family saw American Sniper during its opening week, and I have been thinking since then about why the movie resonates with such a large audience. We saw it in a packed house, and the best evidence of its impact was the total silence at the end of … [Continue reading]

Your small group Bible study needs you

and let us consider how to stir up one another

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Why are you surprised when the world attacks the Bible?

for the message about the cross

“They” – Christians, like you and me – “wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. … [Continue reading]

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

carols.o come o come emmanuel

This one plays a lot in our house. It's my favorite, and Sonya's, too. Author unknown, the poem dates as early as the 12th Century. The original Latin was translated into English by John Mason Neale in 1851, and the lyrics never fail to help me … [Continue reading]

Prepare your hearts for Christmas

carols.it came upon a midnight clear

When Job wanted to talk to God face-to-face, he knew he could not make such a brash demand. For all his protests that he was a righteous man, Job understood in his heart that God is infinitely higher than man. He knew that our best is garbage in the … [Continue reading]

Jesus is (10) THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life

No one comes to the Father except through me

It isn't taboo to call yourself a Christian in America. But if you dare say you believe that Christ is the only way to God, that Jesus offers something that other religions do not, then you are narrow-minded, arrogant, and exclusive. There is a … [Continue reading]