So today, I want us to begin a new series which I am entitling “God’s Own Heart.” Obviously, this title comes from that very popular Biblical reference to David, where the Holy Spirit called him “a man after God’s own heart.” Our heart being our innermost passions and desires.
However, while we usually tend to look at that description of King David from the standpoint of – How can we become a person after God’s heart like David was? – I want us to look at it a little differently in this series: I want us to look at this phrase from the standpoint of - “What is God’s own heart?” In other words, what does the heart of God look like? What is important to Him? What are His innermost passions and desires?
So, in this series, we will learn about God’s true nature and what His heart is for you and me. We will see how much He loves us and what else He loves, honors and desires. Therefore, we should walk away from this series of teachings in awe of God’s heart for us and also understanding how we can love Him better ourselves.
So, let’s begin by looking at one of the references that we have to David being a man after God’s own heart which is found in 1 Samuel 13:14:
First of all, in 1 Samuel chapter 13, we have the confrontation between the Prophet Samuel and King Saul. This was, of course, when Saul made the mistake of sacrificing to the Lord without waiting for Samuel first. This angered the Lord, and so when Samuel arrived, he said that Saul had done foolishly and had not kept the commandment of the Lord. Then he said something we should all take note of: At the end of verse 13, he said, “For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.”
That, church, is an amazing statement - it shows us that the Lord’s original intention was that there never be a King David. In other words, His plan was for Saul and his descendants to reign over Israel forever! Therefore, David was simply “Plan B.” Now it would seem that David was God’s plan all along because of all of the good things that happened through him, but the truth is that God had originally planned to use Saul to do these good things and possibly even greater things than those that David did. But I guess we will never know because Saul forfeited his throne and David was next in line.
I bring this out though because we need to understand that God’s plans and purposes are not automatically fulfilled. In other words, God could have planned to make a specific individual the next great evangelist to the world, but because of some poor choices on their part, Billy Graham was next in line to be His voice to the nations. Church, we have a part to play in the whole grand scheme of things. Just because the Lord has called and invited us to play a part in His kingdom’s purposes does not mean that we cannot reject all that He has in His heart for us. Yes, church, we can both limit what God has for us and even walk away from His purpose for us altogether.
I know that this is a sobering thought, but we need to understand this lest we “throw away our crown” like Saul did. Saints, we would much rather reap the same fruit as Paul (the apostle), not Saul (the king of Israel). But as far as David is concerned, there is a sure-fire, bonified way to position ourselves to be as fruitful as possible. And that is to have the heart that He had - God’s own heart.
A MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART
Now notice what Samuel went on to say in verse 14:
“But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:14)
So, here we have that oh so wonderful title given to David as being the one that the Lord sought for Himself, a man after God’s own heart! But again, let’s not look at this from the traditional viewpoint; I want us to look at this phrase “a man after God’s own heart” from a different perspective.
You see, if we want to learn what is in the heart of God, we ought to look at the heart of David, since he was said to be after God’s own heart. Of course, David was flesh & blood and had a nature like ours. So, he is not a perfect reflection of God’s nature. However, we can look at a lot of things in his life, study his heart, and learn more about “God’s own heart.” So, that means that, as a general rule, the things he cared about, God cares about. The things he desired, God desires. The things he sought after, God seeks after. The things he focused on, God focuses on. And those last couple of sentences are what I want you and I to look at today: What does God look at and what does He seek?
You know, one way to know what is in one’s heart is to consider what they seek and are focused on. In other words, what someone spends their time in search of and what they focus on is what their heart deems important. Therefore, if we can see what God is looking at and looking for, we can get a glimpse into His heart.
Now the way I want us look at this is by looking at what David was both looking at and looking for - for in learning where his attention was, we can see what God is still looking at and for today. Amen?
GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART
And 1 Samuel 13:14 teaches us a very important truth - that God is focused in on the heart. In other words, He is looking at the heart of man.
Do you remember what God told Samuel when He sent him to Jesse’s house to anoint for Israel a new king later on in 1st Samuel? He said, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
When God was looking for the next leader of the children of Israel, He did not look for the one who seemed qualified outwardly; He sought the one who was most qualified inwardly - that is, in the heart. He anointed David – a man after His own heart – to be the next king. And the fact that he had a heart that mirrored God’s own heart was the key to being the one God chose and anointed!
You see, David did not have it all together, but what he did have was a heart after God. He loved God with all of his heart! He knew the God of Israel! And, last but not least, he had a heart to praise God! His heart was a reflection of God’s own heart!
If you look at the lives of, not only David, but of all those who God used mightily and blessed abundantly, you will see this one common trait - they had a heart after God. Although their lives were filled with imperfections it was as if God did not even see their flaws. God’s heart is for our heart to be all His.
Actually, if you just glance through the Bible without giving any real thought to what you are reading, the Bible will give you the impression that these men and women of God were perfect. But that is far from the truth! None of them were perfect. Some were liars, prostitutes, idolaters, gossipers, doubters, loudmouths, drunkards, unethical, immortal, etc. And the list could go on and on.
But what God does is this: He looks beyond the natural, carnal things that we tend to look at. Rather, His focus is on our hearts, and when He finds a man or woman whose heart is like His, He has found a vessel that is capable of honor. And that is what God did with David: He found a man that was young, bright-eyed, and “ruddy” looking (whatever that means). Now the church used to sing that old song “Bringing in the sheaves,” and Jesse Duplantis said that when he was child he used to remember singing that song, not having a clue what a “sheave” was. And he saw some women who came to church that were “hard on the eyes” and he was just sure that was those “sheaves” they were singing about. LOL! But it doesn’t matter, church, how “ruddy” or “muddy” you might be, God looks beyond the physical and at our hearts! Thank, God!
SEARCHING AND KNOWING HIM
Regarding Him looking at our hearts, this means that He knows us inside and out. David said some interesting things regarding this in the 139th Psalm: In the first 6 verses, he said, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1-6)
So, David was saying here that our God has searched us and knows us, inside and out. But then he goes as far as saying later in this same Psalm, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties.” (Psalm 139:23) So, David was in essence inviting God to search his heart even further - thus another indicator of the good heart he had.
Now we’ve made the point already that if David had a heart after God’s own heart, then his life – his words and his actions – would mirror God’s heart (as a general rule). So, let’s look at these verses in Psalm 139 a little differently. Let’s read them as if they are God’s heart-cry for us: God’s heart is that we would “search Him and know Him – that we would know His sitting down and His rising up – that we would understand His thoughts from afar off – and become acquainted with all of His ways.” Amen!
So, not only does God want us to have this heart like David’s to where we invite Him to search and know our own hearts. He wants us to search and know His own heart! Yes, He is inviting you and I to know Him and His ways, to comprehend Him and become acquainted with Him. Just as Moses was said to know not just the “acts” of God, but also His “ways” (see Psalm 103:7), the Lord’s heart is that we all, from the least to the greatest, would come to know Him (Jeremiah 31:34)! Glory!
As the Lord told the Prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7, He invites you and I today to not just look at some vague, abstract view of Him (i.e. His outward appearance) such at His acts, like the children of Israel – that is, what He does or what He will do. These things are important, don’t get me wrong. But He wants us to look deeper – at His heart – and discover why He does what He does! He wants us to know His ways and to know Him like Moses did. And the more we get to know Him, the more we will love Him.
Someone might say, “Yeah, well, the Bible does say, brother, that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts!” (see Isaiah 55:8-9) To which I would respond - First of all, He was talking to the wicked there (see verse 7), not to the righteous. Secondly, we are no longer wicked servants. Jesus invited all of His disciples to be His “friends.” And one of the benefits of now being His friends is that while a servant didn’t know what His master was doing, a friend does. Therefore, Jesus promised to make known to us all of the things that He Himself has heard from the Father. (John 15:14-15) Amen! And not only that, but in Psalm 139:2, David asked the Lord to search him and know his “thought(s)” afar off. Therefore, I believe the Lord would have it that we would know His high and lofty thoughts - for we are His friends and a greater than Moses is here now! Glory!
And, again - it is not our own holiness or righteousness that is going qualify us to know Him; we will know Him in proportion to our hearts being inclined to search for Him. In other words, we will know His ways in as much as we are hungry to know His ways. Yes, we will know the Lord to the degree that we want to know Him.
GOD’S GREAT SEARCH
But, again, although David and all of the other great men and women of God who did great things for their God had many imperfections, they all had a heart after God and loved Him more than the things of this world. So, what can we gather from this? We can gather that God is not looking for perfect people; He is looking for people with perfect hearts!
Let’s now take a look at 2 Chronicles 16:9 - for this verse very plainly states what God is looking for and what He desires: In 2 Chronicles 16:9 we are told, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”
This verse reveals to us that God is constantly scanning the earth in search of something. He is on a search to find someone that He can bless and prosper, someone that He can anoint and use. This verse puts it this way - “to show Himself strong” through. In other words, God is looking for a people that He can manifest His glory through! And whom did it say that He shows Himself strong on behalf of? “Those whose heart is perfect towards Him” (KJV)
So, what does it mean to have a “perfect heart?” As we read, the word “perfect” is translated “loyal” in the New King James version, but neither of these two words fully express the idea the Holy Spirit was trying to convey to us. This word comes from the Hebrew word salem which means “to be complete or entire.” It carries the idea of being “whole or full.” This word salem is a derivative of the more well-known Hebrew word shalom. This word, commonly understood as meaning “peace,” means much more than that. It carries the idea of being totally blessed - complete and entire, lacking nothing! It carries the idea of possessing total peace in our life - spirit, soul, and body - with nothing missing and nothing broken. The word shalom is derived from this word we are looking at salem, with salem bringing in the idea of something that is full, complete, and whole. So, when applied to our heart, salem describes being “whole-hearted.” It describes having a heart that is fully and completely “towards” God. The word “towards” denotes a heart that is totally turned towards God and, therefore, a person who is seeking Him whole-heartedly.
So, what 2 Chronicles 16:9 means is that God is looking for those whose hearts are fully devoted to Him or those who are whole-heartedly seeking Him. He is seeking those that have this kind of heart after Him so that He can manifest His glory through them. Again, God is not looking for perfect people; He is looking for people with perfect hearts! That is, people whose hearts are fully devoted and in love with Him.
Allow me to reiterate to you: our imperfections and weaknesses are not the issue. It’s our heart that God is concerned about. God never called or continues to call perfect people. They all had problems and made mistakes. You can go down the list - Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Peter, and even David. None of them were perfect! They all had their faults just like us.
However, the Bible never really magnifies all the Old and New Testament saint’s faults. That is why so many Christians seem to be oblivious to the fact that the saints of old made mistakes and were not perfect. Everyone just seems to think they were saints (that is, holy and righteous), but that was not true! And you have to really read into and think about their lives before you can see their blunders. Why? Because the Bible does not focus on their weaknesses; it simply places their names in the Faith Hall of Fame of Hebrews chapter 11! Glory to God for His mercy!
And the Gospel is this: God is not focused on our mistakes and weaknesses either! God covers our sins because God is love and love covers a multitude of sins! If we were to really consider some of the mistakes and imperfections of those that God used to change the world, we would be shocked.
But the fact is, God is scanning this earth, looking for the people whose hearts are after His own heart. And these are not necessarily those that are the most righteous and holy according to our standards; it is simply those who recognize their need for Him and whole-heartedly are willing to follow Him.
THE LOST ARE FOUND
Do you recall what the Lord Jesus said in the Gospels to those who seemed to be the most “religious?” In Luke chapter 15, we have a beautiful description by the Lord Jesus of God’s heart to look for and seek out the lost.
In this chapter, we have three parables – all told in response to the scribes’ and Pharisees’ criticisms of Jesus for receiving and eating with “sinners.” We have the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son. Again, all three of these parables were meant to illustrate to us God’s heart for the lost being found.
In the first parable, He explains how if a man has a hundred sheep and loses just one, that he will leave the ninety-nine to go search for the one. Then, He says that when this man finds the one who was lost, he rejoices and invites others to rejoice with him. Then, He tells a similar parable of a woman who has ten silver coins and loses one. So, after turning her house upside down, she finds it and asks her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her. Finally, He tells the story of what we call the “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” which based on this context might better be called the “Parable of the Lost Son.” And when the lost son is found in this story, there is a big party with rejoicing. Jesus told these parables to show these scribes and Pharisees that this is how it is in the kingdom of heaven - heaven rejoices over one lost sinner who turns to the Lord!
So, here is the point of these three parables: God is searching for the lost! He is looking for those who have the hearts to hear Him! And He does this because we are valuable to Him: We are that precious sheep that is worth something to Him! We are that silver coin that is valuable to Him! We are that son and daughter who is precious to our Heavenly Father!
Church, we are extremely precious in God’s sight! He seeks us because He loves us and because we are important to Him. And He does this because we are in His heart! Amen!
IN A DRY AND THIRSTY LAND
Regarding God’s desire to seek and search for the lost and for the perfect heart, let’s look over at the 63rd Psalm and look a little further into God’s heart: In it, King David says, “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.” (Psalm 63:1-2)
Again, let’s look at this from God’s perspective and from His own heart: First of all, He says to us - “Early will I seek you…” Now when David said this, he obviously meant, “The first thing I’m going to do in my day is seek You.” In other words, David was expressing to the Lord that he was going to give Him the first part of his day. But this is the Lord’s own heart! So, He is saying to us - “That’s the first thing I do! My priority is you!” Did you hear that, church? Even with having the responsibility for running the entire galaxy, you and I are His first priority! Glory!
Then we can see Him going on to say: “My soul thirsts for you, My flesh (if I had it) longs for you.” You see, this is why we are His priority; it is because He thirsts and longs for us! Where? In this dry and thirsty land we call, earth. You do know that He created the earth for us, don’t you? There are many out there who believe we were created for the earth, but that is not biblical. He made the earth for us! We are the reason He spent much more time on this particular planet and made it far more detailed and beautiful than all of the other known worlds.
Let’s go over to Psalm 8:3-8 and see in more detail how much more important we are than the rest of His creation:
In verses 3&4 we see God’s work in creation: Now if we truly consider the greatness of God’s creation like the moon and the stars, we should think something similar. What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you visit (i.e. give attention to or care for) him? It is absolutely amazing that God created all these huge, wondrous, and amazing things but that He still has His “mind-full” of us (and He gives attention to and great care for us)! But I would say this, that God is not just more mindful and attentive of us than for the rest of creation, but He actually created all of the rest of creation for us!
Notice how verse 3 says that God’s work of creating the sun, moon, and stars was the work of His fingers. This means that it only took the strength contained in God’s fingers to create the universe around us. Now I am being comical here, but imagine God turning to Michael and saying, “Look Michael, check this out… (and He’s balancing the moon on His pinky).”
Now Psalm 102:25 says that when He laid the foundation of the earth and the atmosphere around it that He exerted a little more effort. It says that, unlike the other planets and stars that He made, with this planet He used His hands. This is pretty obvious when you consider the other planets out there that we’ve been able to explore. None of them are as beautiful and detailed as the earth. Why is this? Why did God put forth more effort on this planet than the others? It is because earth is the planet that God chose to place those created in His likeness and image! He made this planet in all of its beauty because He was going to place His most prized possession - His children - on it!
But did you know that God actually exerted more of His strength on one other thing? Yes, there is actually a verse where we are told that God had to use more than His fingers and more than His hands.
Isaiah 53 is probably the most detailed explanation of redemption that we have in the whole Word of God. This chapter foretells what those sufferings of Jesus on the Cross produced in our life - “Surely, He has born our sicknesses and carried our pains. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” So how much of an effort did He have to make to produce so great a salvation? Well, Isaiah 53:1 says, “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
So, God actually had to use more strength in creating our salvation than He did in creating the earth, sun, moon, and stars! Wow! That is an awesome truth! So, with the original creation God only used the strength of His fingers and hands; but with the new creation, He used all the strength of His mighty arm! This ultimately shows how important we are to Him because, if He put forth more effort to save us than He did to create all that we see, then we are of very great value to Him. Amen!
So, Psalm 63:2 concludes by Him saying to us: “So, I have been looking for you in my presence (i.e. in my sanctuary) in order to see your power and your glory.” So God’s own heart for us would be expressed by Him saying, “I have been looking for you in My presence, in order that I might show myself strong in and through you and make my power and glory known.” Amen!
But again, church, it all comes back to us. Even though this is God’s heart - our heart is our own responsibility. It is our job to respond to His heart and to open the door to Him in our lives. Will you and I have those “perfect hearts” that are open to His “perfect love”? (see 1 John 4:18) This is who God is seeking - the lost who will let themselves be found. Let Him find you today!