Read: 2 Samuel 8: 1 – 18

Focus: So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people. 2 Samuel 8:15

The Bible tells us that God testified the following about David: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22). What exactly does this mean? We know David was far from perfect as we’ll read more about in a couple of days when we read 2 Samuel 11; so we know being a man after God’s own heart doesn’t mean we’re perfect. Well then, what else can it mean? I think one only need to look at Psalm 16 (also known as the Golden Psalm) written by David to see why God would describe David in those terms. In Psalm 16:2, David wrote: ‘I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”’ David recognized his only fallibility, he knew he was far from perfect, and most importantly, he humbled himself before the Lord. David was one of the most powerful kings of the ancient world. He was famous for winning victories against what seemed to be insurmountable odds. However, even with all of that, he recognized and admitted that without God, he was nothing. 

Put in that context, I think we can contrast David from his predecessor, Saul. God chose each of them to be kings over Israel. God gave both victories that seemed impossible against overwhelming odds. Saul began to buy into his own press, and instead of following the commands of God, he allowed his pride to lead him astray. When Saul was called out for his sinful pride by Samuel, Saul’s confession seemed to be based more on saving his own skin than on true contrition. Saul also continued in his sin; so while he confessed, he did not repent (turn away from his sin). David allowed his pride to lead him into sin too; however, when David was confronted for his sin by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12, we see true contrition. In a few days, we’ll be reading Psalm 51, so I won’t delve into it too much, but David wrote Psalm 51 in response to Nathan confronting David for his affair with Bathsheba. It’s impossible to read Psalm 51 and not feel David’s authentic contrition for his sin.

I think this is an important distinction for us in today’s world. None of us are perfect. We are going to make mistakes, and we are going to sin. We are blessed that as followers of Jesus we have the Holy Spirit residing in us. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin (kind of how the prophets would confront and convict leaders such as Saul and David of their sins). The question is how do we respond when the Holy Spirit convicts us? Do we offer a half-hearted apology because we’re afraid of God? Or are we truly contrite because we love Him and want to be in a right relationship with Him more than anything? Do we recognize that without Him we are nothing? To summarize what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:7 – 9, anything  he had in his life before or apart from Jesus was worse than garbage (the actual Greek word is skubalon, which means filthy scraps of garbage, waste thrown to the dogs, and dung). Do we want to be men and women after God’s own heart? As we’ve learned by examining the lives of Saul and David, the first step in that is to accept that without Jesus, life is meaningless; we, in and of ourselves, are nothing without God. Once we humble ourselves and accept that, our hearts are in the right place to live our lives for Him.

Prayer: Father, thank You again and again that You provide us with clear examples in Your Word. When I become prideful, please show me. Please search my heart and reveal to me where I am not right with You. Like David, I know and confess that apart from You, I am nothing. I desire more than anything to be a man or woman after Your Own heart. Please guide me in serving You. In Jesus name… Amen.

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