David: Man After God’s Own Heart
David, meaning “beloved,” has been one of the top 20 names for boys in the United States since the 1920s, and is a common in several other countries such as Spain and Austria. However, there’s only one David in Bible: the shepherd boy who became Israel’s greatest king.
When Israel’s first king, Saul, didn’t obey the Lord’s commands, the prophet Samuel talked about God seeking out a new ruler who would follow His ways: “a man after his own heart.” (I Samuel 13:14) That man was David.
At first, David seemed like an unlikely candidate for a king. When Samuel went to David’s father’s household to anoint a new king, David, the youngest son, is out tending sheep—there’s no record he was even told that the prophet was coming. But Samuel had him summoned and, at God’s direction, anointed him king.
David’s experience as a shepherd served him well when a giant Philistine named Goliath challenged the Israelite army. Despite the fact that, after a month of taunting, not one man from Israel’s forces was willing to fight him, David didn’t hesitate to volunteer when he heard about the giant’s challenge. He declined wearing King Saul’s armor in favor of carrying a simple slingshot—the defense of a shepherd. With just one stone, a lot of courage and God’s strength, he killed Goliath, resulting in a great victory for his people.
After Saul’s death, David became king, and continued to lead Israel in a series of conquests that greatly increased their territory. Although he desired to build a house for the Lord, he was a man of war; because of this God sent a message that David’s son would be the one to build the temple. Instead of argument, David responded with thanksgiving. David’s obedience, even when it seemed he was being commanded to refrain from an action that would honor his Lord, demonstrates what it means to be a “man after God’s heart.”
David’s greatness as a king is even more evident when viewed in light of the fact that the kingdom of Israel split after his death. The righteous of the rulers that followed him would be compared to his, and it would be written of many of them that they “did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done.” David set a standard for godly human leadership that would never be equaled.
Despite his reputation as a warrior and a strong king, David’s emotion-filled Psalms are have arguably had greater influence that any of his other accomplishments. The Bible credits him as the author of 73 Psalms and several others have been attributed to him. David’s honestly with the Lord, whether expressing anger, fear, joy, praise or gut-wrenching despair, has spoken to countless hearts for 3,000 years.
Although David is also known for one famous mistake—committing adultery with Bathsheba—he’s still called “a man after God’s own heart” because he confessed his sin before God, asking for forgiveness. This presents a powerful lesson: repentance is crucial to a right standing with God. It also presents a challenge for us to be people who seek God, confessing our shortcomings and obeying His commands, so that we can be men and women “after His own heart.”
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