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.[i]
Israel clamored for a king “like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5), and God gave them one – one after their own hearts. 1 Samuel 12:13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.[ii] While waiting in Gilgal for Samuel, Saul began to lose hope, lose heart, and stood in the priest’s place to offer a burnt offering (1 Samuel 13:9). He later excused himself – Samuel didn’t come on time, the people were scattering, the Philistines were coming – so he “forced himself” and offered a burnt offering (13:11-12). Samuel the prophet pronounced against the kingdom of Saul. His kingdom would not continue (1 Samuel 13:13-14). God rejected Saul from being king (1 Samuel 15:10-23).
After this God told Samuel “fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.” (1 Samuel 16:1) The Lord said unto Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Saul was “from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” and “he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward” (1 Samuel 9:2; 1 Samuel 10:23). David was “the youngest, and… keepeth the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:11).
So God chose David “his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:70-72).
David had a brave and courageous heart, one that trusted the Lord.
The oldest brother of David – Eliab, the one upon whom Samuel looked favorably and God first said this is not the one – accused David of “naughtiness of heart.” Even though Jesse sent David, Eliab thought him an unruly youth with officious intent. Soon, though, David was exhorting against faintheartedness, trusting the Lord to take the battle in hand and deliver the victory. His heart was able to embrace God in faith.
1 Samuel 17:28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
1 Samuel 17:32 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. (Is there not a cause?...The Lord will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine…the battle is the Lord’s)
Do not I love Thee from my soul?
Then let me nothing love:
Dead be my heart to ev’ry joy,
Which Thou dost not approve.
Be dead my heart, to worldly charms,
Be dead to ev’ry sin;
And tell the boldest foe without
That Jesus reigns within. (Philip Doddridge)
David had a listening or attentive heart, one that could receive wise counsel.
When David’s heart was stirred within him to avenge himself of the churlish Nabal, Nabal’s wife Abigail approached him humbly with wise counsel. David received her blessed advice.
1 Samuel 25:31 that this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.
1 Samuel 25:32-33 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
Then shall I share a glorious part,
When grace hath well refined my heart,
And fresh supplies of joy are shed,
Like holy oil, to cheer my head. (Isaac Watts)
David had a tender, approachable, and contrite heart, one that could be smitten with grief and respond with repentance.
Whether a small incident like cutting off the bottom of Saul’s skirt, to the larger sins of numbering Israel, adultery with Bathsheba, and the of Uriah, David’s heart showed the capacity of contrition, godly sorrow, and repentance.
1 Samuel 24:5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.
2 Samuel 24:10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
2 Samuel 11:27 …But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. Psalm 51:3-4 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
O that I could repent!
With all my idols part,
And to thy gracious eye present
An humble, contrite heart.
A heart with grief oppressed
For having grieved my God,
A troubled heart that cannot rest,
Till sprinkled with thy blood.
Jesus, on me bestow
The penitent desire;
With true sincerity of woe
My aching breast inspire.
With softening pity look,
And melt my hardness down,
Strike with thy love’s resistless stroke,
And break this heart of stone! (Charles Wesley)
David had an abiding heart, one that accepted God’s decision and held its peace.
David wanted – had it in his heart – to build God a house, but he accepted God’s will and held his peace when he was not allowed to do so. He “abode” in the calling wherewith he was called and did not stubbornly rush ahead of God. He found contentment in the accomplishments of others (in this case Solomon).
1 Chronicles 28:2-3 Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: but God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name…
Oh, that my heart might dwell aloof
From all created things,
And learn that wisdom from above
Whence true contentment springs. (Frances Maria Cowper)
Unlike his predecessor Saul, David had an open or receptive heart. In it, he could receive faith, trust, hope, counsel, rebuke, postponement, and rest in the will of God, the state in which he found himself.
We begin with a heart the Lord opens (Acts 16:14), a heart that believeth unto righteousness (Romans 10:10).
Oh, for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free;
A heart that’s sprinkled with His blood,
So freely shed for me.
Oh, for a heart submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.
Oh, for an humble, contrite heart,
Believing, true, and clean,
Which neither life nor death can part
From Him that dwells within.
A heart in ev’ry thought renewed,
And full of love divine;
Perfect, and right, and pure, and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine. (Charles Wesley)
[i] Biblically, the heart denotes a person’s “center” – the locus of the moral, emotional, and intellectual activity.
[ii] Even after this, to the people Samuel said, 1 Samuel 12:20 “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; … 24 only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.” (Cf. also Hosea 13:11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.)