“I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22)
When I was a new believer, I struggled mightily with today’s verse. King David had not only used his position of authority to commit adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, but after learning that Bathsheba was pregnant by him, David ordered the death of Uriah in an attempt to conceal his sin. How in the world could a just and righteous God speak so kindly about David in Acts 13:22? I was badly confused!
And then, as I recently told our congregation at Cross Community Church, Jeff, my first Christian mentor, said to me, “Tommy, your problem is that you think you are better than David.”
“Well, of course I do,” I promptly replied. “I have never cheated on Kim, and I certainly haven’t committed murder!”
That was the beginning of Jeff’s patient instruction in the all-important area of understanding the truth about the human heart. Here are two of the most foundational verses of Scripture, both of which mince no words in describing the condition of the human heart after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.(Genesis 6:5)
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Before we are saved, our hearts beat continually for the sinful self. We want what we want and when we want it, regardless of the cost or circumstance. Like the spoiled little girl in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, we are continually pouting and shouting “I want it NOW!”
That truth was easy for me to understand and accept. What was much harder for me to absorb was the condition of the human heart after we are saved. When we are saved, by grace through faith, the heart begins to beat for the Savior, but not continually. Sometimes it beats for the Savior, but at other times it still beats for the self. I have cited Galatians 5:17 here many times:
The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit,
and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.
They are in conflict with each other,
so that you do not do what you want.
This truth helped me understand what God was saying about David . . . and, in essence, what God is saying about all of us. Please hear this clearly, Christian, and be encouraged today! When God said David was a man after His own heart, He was not saying David’s heart beat perfectly for Him, because no human heart beats perfectly for God on this side of the grave. But David had given his heart to God, even though there were times when it still beat for the sinful self.
The same is true for you and me and all those who have truly placed their trust in Christ.
Next week I will share a few reasons why David is called “A man after God’s own heart.” As always, my hope is to encourage you as you are confronted, as I was, with the inescapable truth that none of us is better than David. We commit spiritual adultery when our hearts beat for something smaller than Jesus, and we commit murder when we hate others. And yet, just like David, whose heart beat imperfectly for God, we are totally loved and fully forgiven.
Come back next week and rejoice in the truth that, to borrow from the great nineteenth-century hymn we recalled in the previous article, sin’s crimson stain still mars our walk with Christ, but His blood shed on our behalf leaves us washed white as snow in the sight of God. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!