Q. What does God mean in describing David as a man after his own heart?
A. This phrase is mentioned in two texts of the Bible, one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.
1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.
Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
It seems many are troubled by the concept of David being “a man after God’s own heart” when they consider the grievous sins to which he succumbed. The phrase, though, is not a contrast between sinlessness and sinfulness – rather, it is primarily a scriptural contrast between Saul and David. Notice in each place, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, the context is the cancellation of Saul’s kingdom and God raising up David as king. Israel wanted a king “like all the nations,” in effect, one after their own heart. Saul stood head and shoulders physically above the rest of the people, and was literally a man they could “look up to.” When he was rejected from being king, God emphasized to Samuel that he was not choosing a man bases on his countenance, the height of his stature, or the outward appearance, “but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:1-13).