The Bible calls David “a man after God’s own heart” twice. The first time was by Samuel who anointed him as backslidden King Saul’s successor, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14, NKJV). The second time was by the Apostle Paul who recounted Israel’s history, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Ac. 13:22). Does being a person after God’s own heart mean perfection? Certainly not! Nobody is perfect, except Jesus. Consider eight major mistakes on David’s record:
1. Fibbing to Ahimelech: David lied to the priest in Nob when he fled from Saul claiming he was on a secret mission for the king—1 Sam. 21:1-9.
2. Fleeing to Gath: To escape Saul’s wrath, David fled to Gath, the hometown of Goliath, (carrying the slain giant’s sword, not a good idea). When he was recognized, he faked insanity to avoid capture, torture, and death—1 Sam. 21:10-15.
3. Fighting for the Philistines: For 16 months, David was a mercenary for Israel’s enemy. Strangely, he wrote no Psalms during this period as the well of inspiration dried up.
4. Flubbing the transport of the Ark: The Ark was handled carelessly and carried on a cart, instead of on the priest’s shoulders, resulting in Uzzah’s death—2 Sam. 6:1-10.
5. Falling into adultery: His most famous failure was his scandalous affair with Bathsheba.
6. Finishing off Uriah: Worse, was the subsequent cover up — the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite — 2 Sam. 11:1-27.
7. Failing as a Father: David failed to discipline his son, Amnon, for raping Tamar, his half-sister. This led to Absalom’s rebellion who murdered Amnon in revenge and then tried to steal David’s throne.
8. Focusing on numbers instead of God: Late in life, against Joab’s advice, David insisted on counting his army (his 1.3 million troops were a source of pride and false security). This displeased God who sent a plague and slew 70,000 men — 2 Sam. 24:1-25.
Obviously, being a person after God’s own heart does not mean perfection or David would have been disqualified. In fact, with his rap sheet, he should have been dethroned, banished from Israel, executed for adultery and murder, separated from God, and damned eternally. That is what he deserved. Instead, he was forgiven, restored, allowed to stay in power, given an everlasting covenant, included in the lineage of Jesus, and was promised to reign again as a prince with Christ in the millennial kingdom (Ezk. 34:23-25). So, how do we explain this? MERCY and GRACE! Mercy is when God does not give us what we deserve; grace is when God gives us what we do not deserve!
The difference with David was his willingness to serve. He pursued God.
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