by Toby Manolis
Anyone who knows me personally and has ever heard me talk about God or the Scriptures probably knows that I have a very deep fondness for David. After the Lord / Yeshua, he is by far my favorite person featured in the Bible. My son’s middle name is David. Brooke and I gave him that name because we wanted him to have the namesake of David, the man after God’s own heart. David is the only man in Scripture who is individually referred to in this manner.
Oftentimes when I read these parts of Scripture I wonder, “Okay, if David was the man after God’s own heart, does that mean I CAN’T be a man after God’s own heart? Was David the “after God’s heart” guy? What can I attain to? I mean I love God, so why wouldn’t I want to be special in God’s sight, in a way no one else is?” As a father with just two children, my love for them is the same, yet I see them and relate to them in unique ways. I am deliberate about creating things with one that I don’t have with the other. I do that because I want them to know that I see them for who they are, different from others, different from each other. We all love God, and don’t we ever wonder how God sees us the midst of his throngs of children? I believe that’s a mark of desiring intimacy with God, and that’s a good thing. If anyone in Scripture enjoyed an intimate relationship with God, David was one of those people.
I want to be a man after God’s own heart. I love David. I love his example. Yes, David had moments where he sinned greatly. I have had moments where I have sinned greatly. I still want David’s heart. I want to respond to God the way David did. I want to respond to my own sin the way David responded to his.
Please don’t mistake what I’m saying. David isn’t my savior. Messiah Yeshua is the Author and Perfecter of my faith, and yours. Yeshua is my righteousness. I’ve heard it once said that Yeshua delivered us from the POWER of sin, but not its presence. That unlocked a whole new level of understanding for me. Our status before God is righteous because of Yeshua, but we still struggle with our fallen nature. Honestly, that’s for another blog post. I will openly admit, however, that I find it easier to relate to David, because he sinned, than the Messiah, who didn’t. Am I wrong for that? I don’t know, but I’m being honest about where I’m at right now.
Have you ever met a Believer in Yeshua, whose decision to put their faith in Him suddenly activated a switch that caused them to never sin again; to never want to sin again; to never doubt God again or never feel forgotten by Him? I’m still a sinner. I still struggle with my flesh. I still get discouraged. I still get frustrated with God and His inexplicable ways. I still wrestle with doubt and fear and the power of my own way, and there are times where I lose that struggle and my way has its way with me. I NEED YESHUA, but I’m also glad that David’s example is there too. I’m not saved by David. I’m encouraged by David. I don’t use David’s fall from grace and beautiful restoration as an excuse to indulge in sin, because I’m well aware that God’s people, beloved as they are, aren’t above facing consequences for their sins. David taught us that.
While Yeshua is always central in my walk with God, I’m glad I have David’s testimony to refer to. I can be a total mess and still have God’s attention and be in His affections. I can know the way, get lost, but find the way again. We have in our possession, as Believers in Messiah Yeshua, all the promises that God has made to man, but our souls still need to be compelled to praise God for His goodness, thank Him for His grace, or beg Him for His mercy. David’s life of both thriving and surviving and His dogged determination to maintain a loyal heart toward his God in the midst of both is something God wanted us to see in graphic detail.
Merriam-Webster has a definition for being “after one’s own heart”. It is an idiom used to describe someone that has similar likes and dislikes as you. When I look at the psalms David wrote, I certainly see a man with intense love for God, and intense scorn for wickedness. David was far from a perfect man, but he strove for perfection nonetheless. David lived a life of being after the very essence of who God was; what He loved, what He hated, His thoughts, His opinions, His inclinations. It’s all so very personal, which is the first step in being a man or woman after God’s heart. It’s having the knowledge that God doesn’t just want to use us. He wants to know us. It’s personal to God. He’s deadly serious about it, and He gave everything to have a relationship with us.
When we think of being after God’s own heart, the action word here is “after”. It’s a key word for those who are seeking to have a heart like David’s because if that’s what you want, the action of being “after” is always a present progressive one. In the New Covenant, David is referred as the man after God’s own heart by Paul in Acts 13: He also testified about him and said, ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do My will.’” When looking at the Greek here, the word for after is kata, which is a preposition that has multiple uses such as about, according to, like, exactly, along, together, within.
So it can be said that:
David had a heart about God’s heart.
David had a heart according to God’s heart.
David had a heart like God’s heart.
David had a heart exactly [like] God’s heart.
David had a heart along God’s heart.
David had a heart together [with] God’s heart.
David had a heart within God’s heart.
To answer the question that I posed at the beginning of this post, can I, and you, be men and women after God’s own heart? The answer is a resounding YES. However, I think the key here is understanding that having a heart like God, on this side of Messiah’s return, is always something to be pursued. It’s present progressive. Being a person after God’s own heart isn’t a status to be reached, it’s a journey you take. It’s a road you walk. Being after something means leaving one place to pursue something somewhere else. Being after something means moving. In this case, we leave a life of pursuing our own interests, to pursue God’s. We are flawed individuals. We are a mess oftentimes. Though we have attained salvation and justification before God through the work of Yeshua, the rest is a journey, a journey after God’s heart. I exhort myself, and anyone reading this post right now, to run the race all the more despite the fact that we are broken, and far from perfect. David wasn’t a perfect man, but he strove for perfection nonetheless. There’s a beauty in that. Now let’s be careful. You can, and will, drive yourself nuts if you think you can reach a moral perfection this side of things. We must accept God’s grace over our brokenness, our sinfulness. Yet, there’s nothing wrong with giving your all for God and His heart despite that. What else is there to do with the love you have for God? You pursue Him no matter what.
Maybe right now you feel like, “There’s no way I have a heart like God’s”. Maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the point is to be AFTER it.
There was always something about David. Don’t get me wrong, there has never been, and there never will be a time when anyone has God wrapped around their finger. However, there was something about David that pulled the fatherly love out of God. It was his heart. It was his scrappy persistence and his refusal to leave God alone about anything. He never, ever failed to take God at His word. He never, ever failed to stop reminding God that he needed Him. In the end, isn’t that what God wants from us?
Toby Manolis is the Media Director at Meuchad. He has worn a variety of hats since being called to the Messianic Movement in 2005 including bass player, videographer, school teacher, worship leader, cantor, husband, youth leader, and dad. He’s a proud 90s kid with a growing collection of desk toys in his office.