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The Heart of David
“I want to have the heart of David.” Really? I remember saying these famous last words many years ago not knowing what I was asking for. Maybe you can remember saying the same prayer. It’s not a bad thing to ask. It’s just a loaded request. It requires perseverance.
God develops this kind of heart through the crucible of pain. If one is able to weather betrayal, rejection, shame, hatred, jealousy, unforgiveness, and come back with a heart free from bitterness and full of love, then you understand the path towards this level of maturity. God enlarges the heart via suffering. He looks for these kinds of disciples. He grows us in love.
God rewards and promotes hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7 states, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature because I have rejected him. For God sees not as man sees. For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." God passed by all of Jesse's swarthy young sons and chose a young, ruddy boy who had an insatiable desire to talk to God and play his lyre in the wilderness. His heart was right toward God and man. He traveled light.
2 Chronicles 16:9 states, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” He searches high and low for someone like David. He will strongly support and promote this kind of person.
Does it come about naturally? No. So how can one develop a heart like this? How is a heart like this forged? How do you grow a heart like David’s? First, the heart of David is the heart of God (1 Sam 13:14). We are all called to be like God in character (Matthew 5:48). Worship leaders or worship team members do not have the corner market on this most noble of quests - we are all called to have the heart of David.
Secondly, before I dive into the how, I would like you to see what the finished product looks like. Turn with me to 2 Samuel 1:1-27. This chapter talked about the death of Saul and David’s initial response. Instead of rejoicing over the demise of his enemy he mourned. He tore his clothes. He wrote a funeral song extolling the virtues of his king. He commanded all to remember the lyrics and tune.
Many people would have done a jig upon hearing this type of news. David had been betrayed, hunted, falsely accused, speared, and rejected by Saul. He spent years in the wilderness keeping one step ahead of his blood thirsty leader. He never once lifted up his hand against the Lord’s anointed. In death he still honored and respected this deranged king. He was thankful for him. This is the heart of David.
What is the difference between obedience and submission? We can obey outwardly, but our inner man could be standing up against authority. Submission is obeying and respecting the person or persons giving the order. Submission requires a heart that wants the best and loves the leader issuing the commands. The heart matches the actions. It’s not being a doormat, but requires great faith in God’s sovereignty to work through fallible people. Ultimately, submission to earthly authority is submission to heavenly authority. David trusted God while he honored Saul. We need to do the same.
How does one develop this type of heart? We can’t. Only God can, but we can cooperate to help the process along. Hebrews 12:1-17 gives us a window on the steps toward full maturity.
1. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
Please forgive me for laying out the process in a how-to format because the journey toward perfecting the heart is not so cut and dry. However, if one will apply these truths in the midst of the challenges of life, one will grow up into full maturity.
First, one needs to turn from all sin, any hindrances, and keep their focus on Christ through prayer and staying in His presence. David stayed in His presence. We need to do the same. Second, one needs to trust in God that his perfect plan will come about through the trials and tribulations they face. Practicing these two things will ensure a heart free from bitterness and one filled with love. Many have gone down the path of anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness, derailing their destiny and call. They defile many in the process. Those who entrusted themselves to God in the midst of the discipline, however, developed the peaceful fruit of righteousness and moved on into the promise land (v.11).
All Christians are called to have the heart of David. It’s really the heart of God. It focuses on pleasing God over pleasing man, honor over shaming, forgiveness over unforgiveness, blessing over cursing, seeing the good over seeing the bad, thankfulness over ingratitude, patience over impatience, kindness over meanness, magnanimity over pettiness, love over hate, and faith over unbelief. It’s a noble quest. It’s the only quest.