A Man After God’s Own Heart
King David is often referred to as the “Shepherd King.” He spent his adolescent and young teenage years tending his father’s sheep as we will see in this study. I believe it was from that foundation of servant hood, being seen and treated as the least among his brethren that David developed into a man of integrity, honor, and humbleness.
As a king, David was no hireling. He loved the people of Israeland was a faithful shepherd to them. I recommend the book by Philip Keller, “A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm.” Keller paints a beautiful picture in words of the life of a shepherd and the sheep he cares for.
The Bible says that hirelings get out in front of the slowest sheep when the wolves come. Hirelings take off and leave the sheep unprotected. David never did that. Instead he protected them against all sort of wild animals.
That reminds me of the story I heard recently about the two friends that went on an overnight camping trip to the mountains.
In the middle of the night they were both awakened by a ferocious roar of what they both knew was a grizzly bear. They both sat up in their cots frantically trying to get out of their sleeping bags and out of the tent before the bear was upon them.
In the midst of this mad scramble one guy looks at his friend and the friend is putting on his tennis shoes. The first guy half yelled “you don’t have time for that and putting on your tennis shoes won’t help you out run the bear.”
His friend responded “I don’t have to out run the bear. I only have to outrun you.”
The Bible speaks more about David than any other person except Jesus Christ. Consider for example that:
- 14 chapters about Abraham, the father of the faithful.
- 14 chapters about Joseph whom God used to preserve His people.
- 13 chapters about Jacob the patriarch who wrestled with God.
- 10 chapters about Elijah the prophet who slew 400 false prophets.
But there are ~ 65 chapters of the Bible dedicated to the life of David. The NT mentions David 59 times. This affords a comprehensive view of the life of this man. I believe God holds David up as an example of “a man after His own heart” because David’s heart was always seeking after Him.
I love the picture that God gives us of David – his triumphs, his victories, his greatest moments all right along side of his failures, his defects, and his sins.
I want to look at 1 Samuel 16. Let me set the context of what we’ll be studying.
The date is around 1126 BC. Israel left Egypt about 340 years before this time and thus had been in the Promised Land about 300 years. Within those 300 years was a 240 year period of time known as the “time of the judges.” People such as Samson, Gideon, Deborah, Abimelech, and Jepthah had given counsel to and provided protection for God’s people.
You may recall that the book of Judges closes with this statement: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” It was at this time that God raised up Samuel the prophet who in effect became the last judge.
It was to Samuel that the Israelites came begging for a king because they wanted to be like other nations. There’s a lesson there for us – it is always a sign of danger ahead when God’s people decide to imitate the world.
So, Samuel eventually anoints Saul as Israel’s first king. We read about that in chapters 9-10 of 1 Samuel. Saul’s reign was marked by victory and defeat.
God removed the kingdom from him because he did not obey Him in all that he was instructed – first by offering strange fire before the Lord (1 Sam 13) and then by disobeying God’s instructions to completely wipe out the Amalekites (1 Sam 15).
Samuel’s announcement to Saul is a key to understanding the text we will consider. Samuel the prophet speaks thusly to King Saul in 1 Samuel 13:14:
“But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
1 Samuel 16:1-13
V1 Samuel was still grieving. I think this is an important point being made here. Why would God include this piece of information? Saul had messed up and God rejected him. What I see here is that the man of God grieves for God’s people who have fallen into sin. There is a time to grieve for our brothers and sisters.
There should be no joy in the heart of a believer when a brother or sister falls. We may know that it was self-induced. We may have even seen it coming and tried to warn them but when it comes there should be a sense of heartache.
Notice God asks Samuel “how long” he is going to grieve. God is saying “let’s get up and get back to work.” That tells me that grieving should not be debilitating. It should not cause us to forget about the tasks God has called us to.
God instructs Samuel to fill his horn with oil. What a picture that is. The horn represents strength in the Bible and oil represents the Holy Spirit. God is saying to Samuel “I am sending you forth in the strength of the Holy Spirit.”
It’s important for us to remember that regardless of the circumstances we might find ourselves facing, God is with us and His strength is our strength. We never face our obstacles alone. When we obey God we always move forward filled with the Holy Spirit.
V2 As is often the case, we miss God’s encouragement and provision. Samuel’s eyes were not focusing on the Lord any longer but on the fate of Saul and the potential for Saul’s anger to turn toward him.
Here’s another lesson for us. When God calls us to a work He will strengthen us for it and provide the enabling to do it. “Where God guides God provides.” If we keep looking to Him for this provision we will succeed. When we take our eyes off of Him and examine our circumstances we give doubt and anxiety an open door.
I love God’s response to Samuel’s fear – “Here’s the plan. Take a heifer with you and go make a sacrifice.” God is saying “listen to Me Samuel. I’ve got this under control. Do as I ask.”
V3 God gives Samuel just enough information to get him to the right place in front of the right people. Do you see the important piece of information that God withholds? God did not tell Samuel to anoint the tallest or the strongest or the most handsome. God didn’t give Samuel a name. He didn’t ask for Samuel’s opinion at all. He merely told Samuel to anoint the one that He would designate.
That took the burden off Samuel didn’t it? All Samuel had to do was go to Jesse’s house and wait for God to tell him which man to anoint as the next King of Israel.
We can walk with great confidence when we understand that following God’s plan to the letter releases us from the burden of making sure something is successful.
When we listen to God and don’t attempt to “tweak” His plans we can rest in the knowledge that whatever God chooses is the best possible choice. That’s true freedom.
- So from this verse we learn that God calls people to walk by faith. He calls us to trust Him with the results.
- We can also say that God desires constant communication with us. He gives us enough information to take the next step in obedience to Him. That insures that we will not get too far ahead.
- That segues into a 3rd point here – God wants us to be continually dependent upon Him.
V4 “So Samuel did as the Lord said.” That’s a great statement. After receiving instruction from God, Samuel carried those instructions out.
The elders of the city of Bethlehem were concerned because “the” prophet of God, the judge of Israel, the King’s closest advisor had come to their Podunk village unannounced. That caused a near panic. We’re not told why exactly. They rightly thought he was there for a specific reason.
V5 Samuel calms their fears and invites them to the sacrifice. What he doesn’t tell them is this is a sacrifice of consecration. Someone is about to be “set apart” for service to the Lord. This awareness was mysteriously lost upon them.
- Point – God will always consecrate or set apart a man for service. God has His own qualifications that look nothing like what the world thinks is important.
- I’ve seen a few men over the years that have claimed God told them to become a pastor. Time has demonstrated that their calling was not from God.
V6-10 We see in these verses that God looks at the heart of a man not the outward appearance. Outward appearance means the total package of externals including our words and our actions. When the internals are not right then the externals don’t matter to God.
In America we teach young people to aggressively “sell themselves.” We tell them that “first impressions” are the most important. The result has been what we see today – inflated egos and inflated resumes.
God sees through all the “veneer.” He doesn’t need our talents, abilities, or experiences in order to accomplish His plans through us. All He needs is a man with a right heart.
Alan Redpath said “Jesse’s seven sons represented the perfection of the flesh. Outwardly they fit the criteria but God is no interested in refining the flesh. When God chooses to build a man He looks for different timber.”
So the man of God understands that the basis for God’s choice is contrary to human reasoning. This in turn will deliver us from the tyranny of judging people without knowing the heart. I have shared my testimony before and a part of that testimony is that I can’t believe that God chose me to be one of His.
Perhaps that is your testimony too. God’s grace toward us is not an occasion for boasting or haughtiness. Instead experiencing God’s love toward us should cause us to be humble.
- Paul in writing to the Corinthian believers said: “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor 4:7)
We should remember that when it comes to sharing our faith and living for Christ. We don’t know who God is going to call into His Kingdom nor should we care. God will call whom He will call. Our job is be ready “in season and out of season” to share a word of encouragement when the opportunity presents itself.
I see those points being made next – V11-13
I think God delights in choosing those the world least expects. Paul said exactly that in 1 Corinthians 1:
- “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God” (v25-29).
Why does God do that? Well I don’t pretend to know the mind of God but I will say that I believe one reason God chooses the least expected option is because that way He gets all the glory. It’s easy to give God the glory when great things are accomplished through ordinary people.
We can look to our own heritage as Calvary Chapel and know this is true. Pastor Chuck in obedience agreed to pastor a little church called Calvary Chapel that boasted a congregation of 25 people.
Most people don’t know that Bob Coy was the “go to” guy for making sure rock stars inDetroithad a good time. Most people don’t know that Greg Laurie was a drug dealer and user or that Mike Macintosh was so strung out on drugs at one point he didn’t think he would survive mentally.
I look at an uneducated shoe salesman like DL Moody and think wow! Who had ever heard of Billy Graham? He didn’t come up through the right seminary and church group. All of these men have one thing in common – they had a right heart before God.
This was God’s testimony about David. He was a man “after” God’s own heart. I think this means David longed to be near God and to hear from Him.
- As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? (Ps 42:1-2)
- One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple. (Ps 27:4)
One of the things that I want you to take away from this passage is that David is not the exception. I don’t want you to look at his life and say “yea but . . .” David’s life is presented to us in Scripture as a model of what can be for every man of God.
- “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
God is looking for men whose hearts are completely His. There’s nothing hidden or being held onto; nothing being swept under the rug, nothing being ignored.
So God is holding up David as an example to us and says “learn from this picture. Be a man whose supreme desire is to know Me and to be known by Me.”
David’s heart was in-tune with God and because of that he could cry even in the most burdensome times “create in me a clean heart oh God.” Oh for a walk like that.
What will that take on our part? At least two things.
1) We must learn to see as God sees. This will require us to spend much more time on the preparation of our hearts for God than it does on the preparation of our outward appearance. This will require us to work on the “issues” of the heart continually, to bring our thoughts and our wills into conformity to His.
2) We must learn to constantly check our priorities. What am I spending the most time on? What do I spend the least time on? Are there things that I should move up the list or down the list?
May God bless you abundantly according to His riches today.