And when he had removed him [Saul], he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
To have a heart like His. This has been the cry of my heart for years and the reason I chose it for my blog title. I truly desire to have a heart like God’s and pray I may one day hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23).
Yet the question was raised during a recent Bible study, “What does it mean to have a heart like God’s?” It is as I have pondered this question that I have been brought back to Psalm 51. This Psalm is the well-known song of David’s repentance, when he came to God seeking forgiveness for his sin. Yes, the man after God’s own heart screwed up–screwed up big time.
Yet upon being confronted with his sin, David didn’t make excuses. David didn’t blame someone else. David didn’t run away. David ran to God. He cried out to God for mercy, for forgiveness, and for another chance. Even more, He recognized something extremely important–something many of us often struggle with:
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
Against you, you only, have I sinned. Yes, David sinned when he went into Bathsheba and then had her husband killed in battle to cover his sin. He sinned when he tried to go on with life as normal after such an egregious act. David’s actions were in no way right nor in line with God’s character. And yes, his sin had a ripple effect. An innocent man lost his life, a wife lost her husband, and the product of that sinful union–a baby–paid the ultimate price. And those were just the physical ramifications; I’m sure there were many emotions to work through as well.
Yet as I stated before, once confronted with his sin–once forced to face what he had done–David did not make excuses, did not continue to deny wrongdoing, nor did he go groveling to others for approval and justification. No. David knew that even though his sin affected many, ultimately, when he had sinned, he had sinned against God–God alone. He knew God was the One he needed to approach on bended knee with a contrite heart. He knew God was the only One capable of giving him that new, clean heart and right spirit. Man couldn’t wipe away the shame, the pain, or dark stain of sin from David’s heart.
But God could.
And David knew it. It is what enabled David to declare,
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise
A broken spirit and a contrite heart. This is what God desires. He doesn’t want lip service. He doesn’t want worthless sacrifices. He wants our hearts–hearts like His–hearts that yearn for and seek righteousness.
To have a heart like His doesn’t mean we’ll be perfect; we’ll never be perfect. Rather, a heart like God’s will ultimately reflect His character–in righteousness as well as in repentance. A heart like God’s doesn’t walk in perfection; it walks with God. And when sin rears its ugly head, the man after God’s own heart goes to God. He doesn’t justify his behavior. He doesn’t ignore his behaviors. He doesn’t just shake it off and move on haphazardly citing Jesus’ sacrifice.
No. The heart of a man after God’s heart breaks over sin. He cries out like David,
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
So I ask you now. Do you have a heart like His? Do you seek God’s will and His righteousness in all circumstances–even in repentance?
When you mess up (and believe me, you will mess up), what do you do? Do you make excuses? blame others? try to hide it? Or do you come before Him on bended knee with a broken spirit and a contrite heart? Do you run away from the sin and into the arms of your Heavenly Father?
Regardless of how you may have answered those questions, I want to encourage you today in this: “a broken and contrite heart” God “will not despise.” He will not turn away a heart yearning for Him and for His righteousness.
So turn to Him today. Cry out like David for God’s mercy, for His forgiveness, and for His restoration. And as you do–as you present yourself at His feet–you can be confident that He not only hears your heart, but also He sees your heart. And a heart like His He will never turn away.