Abraham, the Patriarch, was not called a man after God's own heart nor was Moses, the Giver of the law and perhaps the humblest man in history. The apostle Paul, to whom Jesus himself made a special appearance, who authored even more books of the bible than Moses, was not called a man after God's own heart.
So, why David?
Why, more than any other man, do we associate David with the Messiah? Why was David given so many prophetic words through his music so that it seemed that he felt a foreshadowing of the very pain of our Savior? Why was Jesus called "son of David?"
It certainly was not because he was such a great King. He was the weakest son of a shepherd, a skinny poet. He was not particularly dignified (1 Sam 6). It took years for the people to accept David as their leader once he was chosen and even after that he was driven from the throne by his own son (2 Samuel 15). It was not because he was a moral success, his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, an honorable and courageous soldier, is evidence of his weakness to his own passions. So why would God call him a man after His own heart?
I’ve wondered and a mused on the meaning that phrase, “a man after God’s own heart,” for a while now. My thoughtless assumption is that David was more like God, than any other and that is why he earned such a title. Could such an inconsistent and moral failure of a man really be described as “like God?” What does that say about God’s heart?
After much wrestling, I still don’t have a complete understanding of what God meant when he said that, but I think it may be that, simply, David was in pursuit of God’s heart. He was, literally, chasing after God’s heart. Not withholding even his fears and frustrations, David threw his heart and soul upon the Lord. He confesses his love, desires, fears, pain, frustrations, and even his anger to the Lord in a raw honesty that you rarely see today.
I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears (Ps 6:6)
I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God (Ps 69:3)
I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land (Ps 143:6)
David wasn’t a perfect man, he wasn’t even, by our standards, a good man, but he was desperate for God. And this is, I think, the key.
David's passion for the Lord and his fierce desire to see Him glorified is apparent throughout his psalms. Seven times in the psalms, he speaks about doing something for the Lord's "name's sake." psalm 42:3 says, "My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, where is thy God?" and again in 115:2, "Wherefore should the heathen say, ‘Where is now their God?’"
David called to the LORD for judgment upon those that persecuted His people for the glory of His name. Yet he was not afraid to be tested himself; "search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me." He was distressed by evil and truly delighted with the truth.
Without a doubt, David brought dishonor to God throughout his life. But he desperately desired to honor Him. He was broken by his sin and couldn’t bear to be separated from God’s heart. His love for God welled up him, making him shameless. He was an unapologetic mess of emotions and passions, but oh how he truly loved his God!
This could be the end of this post, maybe it should be because, after this, things get a little...shaky. But I have this secret thought skirting the edges of my mind, It is a hazy thought, one I don’t completely understand but, all the same, believe is a Truth that could utterly change the way that I, the way we, think about God.
What if God likes the mess? What if, God help me, He creates the mess?
What if God, choosing to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the objects of His wrath [which are] prepared for destruction? (Rom 9:22)
I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things, (Isa 45:7)
What does this say about our God? What does it say that He is honored as much (if not more) by the messy and volatile love of his children as He is by their constant faithful obedience? How can he possibly be honored by a screw-up like me?
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us (1 Cor 4:7)
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and things that are not- to nullify the thing that are, (1 Cor 1:28)
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness (2 Cor 11:30)
What does this say about our God? I’m not entirely sure but, speaking as a self-proclaimed mess of a girl, it gives me hope.