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9 August 2012

After God’s Own Heart

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After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘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)

Aren’t we fascinated with this concept – to be found a person after God’s own heart? Naturally, if we love God, we want to know He loves us back. And if there was something special about the way David loved God, I kind of want to know what it was, so maybe, just maybe, I can find – and live – that special relationship.

Most often when I hear this verse quoted, someone also makes the comment, “See, David was a man after God’s heart, and we all know the mistakes he made. He was a murderer and an adulterer, and yet God says David was after his own heart.”

What’s that about? Is it our need to acknowledge that we can be worthy of special love and relationship even though we fail and are flawed? I guess that gives me some comfort, but it still leaves me wanting to know more.

Then today I read the verse above again, and the end of it jumped out at me. As Paul preaches in the synagogue on the Sabbath, he refers back to Israel’s history before God established kings and appointed Saul, to give context to his remarks about the coming of Jesus. In the midst of his history lesson, he tells about how David was “found” by God, and labeled, “a man after my own heart.”

But why? The answer is right there; we just choose to stop reading too early:  “he will do everything I want him to do.”

ImageI started thinking about my childhood and my desire to win my dad’s heart, and the feeling that I never quite made it. Then I thought of myself as a father, and wanting my sons to know that I love them unconditionally. But what touches a parent’s heart is when your child exhibits so much trust, faith, respect and love that they show, through words or actions, “Sure, Dad. I’ll do whatever you want.”

And in David’s case, the word at the heart of the phrase is “everything.” As in, “he will do everything I want him to do.”

OK. Now it makes sense.

How do I respond to, or “feel” about, a child, a staff member, even a friend, who gives me the impression that they’ll do everything I want them to do? Well, the child is a joy, the staff member is a star, and the friend is someone I enjoy, trust and want to spend a lot more time with. (Of course, for the sake of this discussion we have to exclude the egocentric or narcissistic tendencies that would cause us to abuse those relationships. This is about us as the child, the staffer, the friend.)

Right now, today, I want to be a man after God’s own heart, and I want to live that out by discovering, then doing, everything He wants me to do.

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