A Man After God's Own Heart
1 Samuel 13:14
But now your kingdom shall not continue: the LORD has sought him a man after his own heart…

This expression occurs only here and in the quotation (Acts 13:22), "I have found David the son of Jesse (Psalm 89:20), a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will."

1. It was uttered by Samuel on the occasion of his reproving Saul for not obeying the commandment of the Lord (ver. 13).

2. It formed a part of the announcement of the purpose of God to appoint another man to be "captain over his people" in consequence thereof. The time of its fulfilment was not defined, nor was it known to the prophet who he should be; it is uncertain even whether David was yet born.

3. It was descriptive of his character in contrast to that of Saul, and it had respect to him in his public official capacity as theocratic sovereign rather than in his private moral life, although it is impossible wholly to separate the one from the other. He would obey the commandment of the Lord, and, as it was predicted of "a faithful priest" (1 Samuel 2:35; 1 Samuel 3:10), "do according to that which was in his heart and in his mind;" he would "serve the will of God in his lifetime" (Acts 13:36), and second and carry out his purposes concerning his people (Isaiah 44:28); he would be truly "his servant," and therefore his throne would continue and (in the full realisation of the theocratic idea it represented) be established forever (Psalm 89:19-37). In "a man after God's own heart" (such as David was) there is -

I. THE RECOGNITION OF THE WILL OF GOD as supreme. His will is above that of king and people; declared in manifold ways, it is the rule of human life; and he who perceives it most clearly and observes it most humbly and constantly approaches nearest to perfection. Saul paid but little regard to it, and, when it was opposed to his own inclination or judgment, set it aside and went his own way. With David it was otherwise. In his royal office especially he embodied the spirit of loyalty to the invisible King of Israel, and of zeal for his law and ordinances. "The vain cavils of infidels appear to have arisen from not considering that the phrase to which they object may be interpreted with equal propriety as referring to the Divine purpose, design, or intention as to designate peculiar favour and affection. The latter undoubtedly was true, yet the former is most clearly the meaning intended here" (Poole).

II. THE CONVICTION OF THE CALL OF GOD to his service. Unlike Saul, he felt deeply and constantly that he was individually an object of Divine regard, and appointed to do a certain work from which he neither desired nor dared to shrink. And a similar feeling exists in every true servant of God. "The life of David is the life neither of a mere official fulfilling a purpose in which he has no interest, nor of a hero without fear and without reproach; but of a man inspired by a Divine purpose under the guidance of a Divine teacher" (Maurice).

III. DEVOTION TO THE HONOUR OF GOD from the heart. Although Saul possessed many admirable qualities, he sought to honour God by outward sacrifices rather than real obedience, his noblest deeds were the offspring of sudden and transient impulses, and his predominant motive was his own honour and glory. "He had none of the work of Divine grace upon the heart, turning impulses into principles, ruling all actions by the law of an unseen Judge. He never experienced what the apostle calls the powers of the world to come, that is to say, the sense of God, of another world, smiting upon his soul through the veil of visible things, and making him feel the presence and the real, awful personality of his Maker. His soul was not like David's, a harp touched by the hand of the Almighty, and attuned to celestial melodies. It was only an instrument over which the wind swept wildly, waking a fitful and irregular music which soon died away into the confused murmurs of a harsh and tuneless discord" (A. Blomfield).

IV. DEPENDENCE ON THE HELP OF GOD for success. Saul was proud of his own strength, and both in ruling the people and contending against their enemies he relied on his own skill and prudence, and "an arm of flesh." David trusted in God foreverything. "He never represents himself as a compound of strength and weakness. He represents himself as weakness itself - as incapacity utter and complete. The Lord is his strength. He has faith in God as his physical Inspirer or Protector. He has a deeper, a far deeper instinct than even that - the instinct of a communion, personal, practical, loving, between God, the Fount of light and goodness, and his own soul, with its capacity of darkness as well as light, of evil as well as good. In one word, David is a man of faith and a man of prayer" (Kingsley, 'Four Sermons').

V. REPENTANCE AT THE REPROOF OF GOD on account of sin. The heart of Saul trembled not at the word of the Lord. When the prophet said, "What hast thou done?" he offered excuses for his conduct, and when on a subsequent occasion he was constrained to say, "I have sinned," his confession was insincere and hypocritical. How different was it with David when Nathan said to him, "Thou art the man." "Never was repentance more severe, or sorrow more sincere; so that he may justly be said (his repentance included, though not his fall) to be a man after God's own heart" (Yonge).

VI. SYMPATHY WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD in their experience. He identified himself with them, made their varied joys and sorrows his own, and thereby (as well as by other means) promoted their highest good. His character "gathered into itself - so far as might be - all the various workings of the heart of man. This is the special attribute of the life and character of the son of Jesse. There is a hard, narrow separateness of soul marked in every line of the character of Saul. He is a wayward, wilful, self-determined man, well nigh incapable of any real sympathy with others. Such an one could learn little of the workings of the human heart, which is so immeasurable in the multitude and compassion of its tones. Deep as were his sorrows, he never knew the grace of contrition. Thus his dark heart is full of sullenness and suspicion, inviting the entrance of the evil one, who came at his bidding, and closed with yet sterner bars all the avenues of his soul. In every one of these particulars David is the most complete contrast to Saul" (Wilberforce, 'Heroes of Heb. Hist.').

VII. SINCERITY IN HIS WHOLE RELATION TO GOD and in the main course of his life. "What are faults - what are the outward details of life, if the inner spirit of it, the remorse, temptations, true, often baffled, never ended struggle of it be forgotten?... David's life and history, as written for us in those Psalms of his, I consider to be the truest emblem ever given of a man's moral progress and warfare here below. All earnest souls will ever discern in it the faithful struggle of an earnest human soul towards what is good and best; struggle often baffled, down as into entire wreck, yet a struggle never ended; ever with tears, repentance, true, unconquerable purpose begun anew" (Carlyle, 'Heroes'). - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: But now your kingdom shall not continue. Yahweh has sought for himself a man after his own heart, and Yahweh has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept that which Yahweh commanded you."

Was David a Character After God's Own Heart
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