“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfil all My will” (Acts 13:22).
In Jesus, we have no difficulty recognizing the moral excellencies that would entitle Him to be pointed out as “a man after God’s own heart.” But are we not somewhat at a loss to understand how such a marvelous and touching title could be bestowed upon David, the son of Jesse? How could David, a sinner, be described as “a man after God’s own heart”?
Such an inquiry will not only give us a true understanding of what David was to God, but will also enable us to understand God’s feelings toward us. For those who believe in God and love Him, no praise is higher than to be found “after God’s own heart.” The more we enter into God’s love, the more we will seek to respond to and reflect that love. This is easy to see as we think of Christ: everything in Him answered completely to the heart of the Father who loved Him. But how could this be true of David? How can it be true of ourselves?
David was a sinner along with those who surrounded him. Like us, he stood before God upon a platform where “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). What was it then that set David apart from those that stood with him? What did the Lord see in his youthful heart that He did not find in Saul, or in any other of the sons of Jesse? And how can we ever hope to obtain the same divine approval?
The answer is found in Hebrews: “Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). It is only through faith that anyone can obtain a good report. It is the pivotal point upon which all blessing from God turns. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). God’s approval—and with it His righteousness—falls upon the believing soul. He is “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” and “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 4:5; 1:17).
David was characterized by faith—simple trust and confidence in God. What God did not find in the heart of Saul, He found in the heart of the youthful shepherd. And never, in his whole history, does David more beautifully display his heart, than when he expresses before Saul his simple confidence in going against Goliath: “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine”
(1 Samuel 17:37).
God delighted in David because he trusted in Him—not because of his goodness, for he had none. “O Lord my God, in Thee do I put my trust” (Psalm 7:1) is David’s motto. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is” (Jeremiah 17:7). A poor, weak, believing sinner is God’s delight. Such was David, and such are all that are like him. A man after God’s own heart, then, is one who trusts God as He has revealed Himself in His grace. Thus every believer in Jesus is a “man after God’s own heart.”