David is the only person in all of scripture to be described as a “man after God’s own heart.” What makes this title even more impressive is that God was the one who gave it to him! But what does it mean to “be after God’s heart?” We know it doesn’t mean never making mistakes because David made plenty (2 Samuel 11). We know it doesn’t mean having a great reputation because at times many people wanted to kill David ( 1 Samuel 19). We know it doesn’t mean avoiding confrontation because David was one of the greatest warriors in history who is responsible for killing thousands (1 Samuel 18:7). We know it doesn’t mean being a stand up family man because he was an adulterer who had many wives and whose own son wanted to kill him (2 Samuel 15:13-14). We know it doesn’t mean always being humble because David got caught up in himself and his accomplishments at times like we do (2 Samuel 24:10). So we know that we can be “after God’s heart” and not be perfect at the same time. But what does it mean?
I recently heard Brian Johnson from Bethel Music answer this question like this: “I believe God gave David this title because there wasn’t any area of David’s life or heart that wasn’t fully exposed to God”. In other words, God had full access to all parts of David’s heart. Let that sink in a minute. This is what made him a great musician. This is what made him a great shepherd. This is what made him a great warrior. This is what made him a great king. This is what made him a great worshipper. This is what made him a great songwriter. There wasn’t any area of David’s life that was off limits to God. This is so important because when we choose to hide, or not surrender, certain parts of our hearts over to God… it is practically impossible for Him to work in those areas. We are exchanging His rule in that specific area for our own. This is a direct assault on God’s sovereignty and lordship over our lives. As we begin to expose every part of our hearts… the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly… God has access to work, move, shape, and mold those areas more into His image. Yes, it may be painful. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. But you are being freed from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:18) as He continues to complete the work that He has started in you (Philippians 1:6). Any area of our hearts that isn’t fully exposed to God will be an area that eventually enslaves us.
Here are 2 examples of people in scripture whose hearts weren’t fully exposed to God.
The Rich Young Ruler (Matt. 19: 21-22)
This man’s identity was found in his possessions and as a result, he was enslaved to them even at the expense of missing out on the Kingdom of God (v. 22). The sad part is that he knew that he was missing out on something better (God’s kingdom), but he couldn’t part with his possessions. They had such a strong grip on him that he was enslaved to them. He went away “sorrowful”. Are there possessions or things in your life that have a similar hold on your life? Do you find yourself allowing these things to identify rather than simply being a child of God?
Ananias and Sapphire (Acts 5: 1-3)
This couples’s security was found in their money and a result, their lack of faith and trust in God led to their disobedience and death. One thing that we must remember is that there is no such thing as “partial obedience”. Partial obedience is full disobedience. This idea has really come alive since I have had children! It’s not so much that they completely disobey me and my wife, it’s just that they will try and get creative with how they choose to obey us. Instead of doing exactly what we ask, they do their own version. This is what got Ananias and Sapphire in trouble. They felt that their way was better than God’s way revealing an area of their heart that wasn’t fully open to trusting Him.
When we are bold enough to allow God access to EVERY part of our hearts, He has our permission to work in them. We will begin to see those dark areas, that we are glad no one knows about, be redeemed and brought into light as He moves in them. We will begin to be a part of this amazing work as well having front row seats to God’s redemptive and transformative work in us. We must understand that when we hold back certain areas of our hearts from God… we miss out on so much! Study through these scriptures and see how David’s life and faith was impacted because of his choice to give God every part of his heart.
David’s heart was exposed to God in his…
Victories (Psalm 124) — which leads to more faith!
Failures (Psalm 51:1-2) — which leads to more repentance!
Hurting (Psalm 13) — which leads to more healing!
Celebration (Psalm 9) — which leads to more joy!
Fear (Psalm 23) — which leads to more deliverance!
Waiting (Psalm 40:1-3) — which leads to more peace!
Searching (Psalm 25: 1-5) — which leads to more certainty!
Confusion (Psalm 22: 1-2) — which leads to more clarity!
Reflection (Psalm 139) — which leads to more perspective!
Commitment (Psalm 34:1-5) — which leads to more consistency!
Passion (1 Samuel 16:23) — which leads to more opportunity!
Battles (1 Samuel 17:47) — which leads to more victories!
Desires (Psalm 27:4) — which leads to more worship!
There is no better catalyst for developing a heart for God than knowing God’s heart for us. Read Isaiah 43: 1-4 and reflect on how this verse disarms the areas of our hearts that we may want to keep from God.
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, people in exchange for your life.”
Wow! This is our Father’s heart for us… His children. God can be trusted with EVERY area of our hearts. There is no area where He will be surprised or caught off guard. This is no area where He will get fed up and stop loving us. There is no area where His purposes aren’t for our good. Let us make a commitment today to begin the process of allowing God to have His way in every area of our hearts even if that process hurts. We know that what lies beyond the hurt is healing and what lies beyond the fear is deliverance.