"And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'
Acts 13:22 NKJV
I think I mentioned last week how much I have enjoyed studying the life of David, and the many lessons I have learned as a result. I remember as if it were yesterday, sitting in Sunday School and hearing about David and Goliath as well as many other stories about his life. Yet it was many years later when I first encountered this verse in Acts, and began to consider just what God meant when He described David as “a man after My own heart”.
You see, along with the stories of his many victories, many of us are well aware of the stories about his failures and shortcomings. So how is it that a man who was guilty of the things David was, be described by God in such a flattering way? Exactly what did God mean, and, considering David's failures, is it possible for us to follow in his footsteps and be seen by God in the same light? How can we as believers follow after God's own heart?
I believe our first clue is in the phrase which follows the compliment, where God also says “who will do all My will”. This passage in Acts is actually a quote of the words God spoke back in the Old Testament when Samuel was informing Saul that his reign as King of Israel was about to end.
"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 NKJV
From these two verses it would seem pretty clear that in order to follow after God's own heart, one of the most important things expected of us is to do His will, and follow His commandments. That should come as no surprise considering how often the scriptures speak on that subject.
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:3,4 NKJV
To know God is to obey God, so the first question we must ask ourselves if we want to follow after God's own heart is "am I following all of His commandments"? Do we question our actions constantly in light of His revealed word to make sure we are not violating any of His laws? The Bible is our guidebook to knowing what God wants from us. Are we reading it daily and seeking to know what God expects from us? That is the first thing we need to do if we want to know the heart of God.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7 NKJV
How easy has it become for us to try to solve our own problems or to follow the advise of the world when it comes to dealing with life's difficulties? I think the second thing we need to do to follow after God's own heart is to seek to do His will in everything we do, and not try to come up with our own answers. I can remember each of my daughters arriving at the point in their lives where they felt that they were perfectly capable of making their own decisions without the help or "interference" of parental advice. I certainly remember that happening in my own life as well, but it would seem that God tells us here that as believers we never come to that point, rather we should always look to Him for advice on what to do.
The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart,
The third thing I saw when looking closely at this verse was the word "after". Now I may not have been the smartest kid in school, but I do remember my English class and diagramming sentences. The word "after" is the Greek word "kata" which is a preposition. Now if you are like me, the only thing I remember about prepositions is that they mean action. So what God is saying here is that in order to be seen as following after God's heart, we must be actively doing what He expects from us. So to be known as seeking after God's heart we must be actively pursuing the life of doing His will.
Is it possible for God to look at us today and give us the same compliment He gave David? Certainly. It is up to us, however, to do the things necessary to be seen by God in that light. Do we know His commandments, do we know His will for our lives, and are we actively following and doing those very things? If so, we too can be people after God's own heart.