BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 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 13:21-22 NKJV).
A positive testimony about someone from a fellow human being has more effect than any effort by such a person to convince others about himself. It is one thing for someone to say good things about himself; nevertheless, it is a different matter for others to say similar things about him. Prov 27:2 says, “Don’t praise yourself; let others do it!” (NLT). According to a proverb, “Self-praise is no recommendation.”
However, more important than the testimonies of fellow mortals about one is the testimony of God. God’s testimonies are always true, because it is impossible for God to lie (Heb 6:18).
God bears testimonies concerning a few people in the Bible. One of them is Noah, about whom God said, “…I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation” (Gen 7:1 NKJV). What a testimony! How will you feel receiving such a testimony from God? Will you value it much more than the highest honour in your country?
Job also received a powerful testimony from God. The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8 NKJV). After God had given Satan permission to attack job yet Job did not sin by blaming God, He told Satan again, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3 NKJV).
Ultimately, what is important is not men’s verdict on you, but God’s verdict. Unfortunately, however, many are more concerned about what people think or say about them than what God thinks or says. Sad enough, some people even compromise God’s Word and instructions to them, just to be in the good book of certain people. Some will rather do what is politically or socially correct than what is biblically correct. What difference does it make if the whole world applauds you, but God disapproves of you?
David, a man after God’s heart
One of the men in the Bible I like God’s testimony about is David, even before he became the king of Israel. In fact, it was God’s evaluation of him that made God choose him for the throne after Saul had failed Him.
Samuel told Saul about his rejection by God as king and announced to him: “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 Sam 13:14 NKJV). The LORD must have told Samuel this. Making reference to this scripture, Acts 13:21-22 says, “And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 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’” (NKJV).
What is the meaning of the phrase, “a man after my own heart”? Farlex Dictionary of Idioms defines “a man after my own heart” as “a man admired by another because of perceived similarities.” According to McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs, it means, “a man with similar tastes and preferences to mine.”
God wanted someone after His own heart as king. Obviously Saul was not after His heart. He had disobeyed His instructions on two important occasions (1 Sam 13:7-14; 1 Sam 15). He was more concerned about the people than about God.
What does the Bible mean by David was a man after God’s own heart? The Bible in Basic English renders 1 Sam 13:14 thus: “But now, your authority will not go on: the Lord, searching for a man who is pleasing to him in every way, has given him the place of ruler over his people, because you have not done what the Lord gave you orders to do.” A man after God’s own heart is “the kind of man he wants” (NCV). A man after His own heart is “a man in harmony with Him” (NBV).
David was a man after God’s heart. In what sense was he a man after God’s own heart? Adam Clarke’s Commentary asked exactly this question and provided answer. It says David was a man after God’s own heart, “1. In his strict attention to the law and worship of God. 2. In his admitting, in the whole of his conduct, that God was King in Israel, and that he himself was but his vicegerent. 3. In never attempting to alter any of those laws, or in the least change the Israelitish constitution. 4. In all his public official conduct he acted according to the Divine mind, and fulfilled the will of his Maker: thus was he a man after God’s own heart. In reference to his private or personal moral conduct, the word is never used. This is the sense alone in which the word is used here and elsewhere; and it is unfair and wicked to put another meaning on it in order to ridicule the revelation of God, as certain infidels have done.”
Is your heart after God?
Before you can be a man after God’s heart, your heart must be after Him. God is more concerned about your heart than your actions. Human beings are easily deceived by a man’s action but God is not. God looks at the heart. What is the state of your heart? Is your heart after God? That is what God is concerned about, primarily.
Prophet Samuel, as human as we are, was going to miss it in the house of Jesse. He was looking at the physical qualities for the next king of Israel after Saul. The height of Saul was the emphasis when he was chosen as king above the rest of Israelites. Samuel followed this pattern, looking at the physical appearance of the sons of Jesse presented before him. What did the LORD say to Samuel? “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘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 Sam 16:7 NKJV). Did you see that? The LORD is looking at your heart. Is your heart after Him or after money, fame, power, pleasure and so on? These are the modern gods many worship.
Deut 10:12-13 says, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (NKJV). Is that what you do? Are you serving the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul? Are you obeying His Word? Look at that scripture again. Why does God require you to fear Him, live according to His will, love and worship Him with all your heart and soul, and obey His commands and laws? Why? The last phrase of that scripture tells us the answer: “for your own good” (Deut 10:13 NLT).
Having a heart after God is for your own good. You are not doing God a favour by seeking, obeying and serving Him! Hear what Deut 11:13-15 says: “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled” (NKJV).
Looking at this scripture, who receives the benefits more? – God or you? It is because the devil has deceived many human beings that they do not follow God, obey His commandments, love Him and serve Him with all their heart and with all their soul.
Nevertheless, look at the repercussion of rebelling against God. “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the LORD’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you” (verses 16-17 NKJV). Which one do you want – the blessing of God or the anger of God? I know you want His blessing, but do you have a heart after God? Can God say you are a man after His own heart?
God testified that David was a man after His own heart. This is a challenge to you and me. As king, David was so consumed by his love for God and the things of God that he decided to bring the Ark of God to Jerusalem from Kirjath Jearim. The Ark of God had been in the house of Abinadab for twenty years (1 Sam 7:2), after it was brought from Beth Shemesh to Kirjath Jearim following its return by the Philistines who had captured it in a battle with the Israelites (1 Sam 4). They were forced to return it because its presence caused disaster in their midst (1 Sam 5, 6). The men of Kiriath Jearim consecrated Abinadab’s son, Eleazar, to be in charge of the Ark in his father’s house (1 Sam 7:1).
David’s predecessor, Saul, never thought of bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. David said to the entire assembly of Israel, “Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul” (1 Chron 13:3 NKJV). David knew the significance of the Ark of God to Israel – it symbolized the presence of God in the midst of His people.
Though his first attempt to bring the ark back to Israel ended in a disaster, with the death of Uzzah, he made a second attempt, which was hitch free. He brought the Ark back amidst pomp and celebration. “So they brought the ark of God and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. Then he distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins” (1 Chron 16:1-3 NKJV).
David was a man after God’s heart. David said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD.’ Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!” (Psalm 122:1-2 NKJV). That was why he, not only brought the Ark of God back to Israel after several years of the ark’s sojourn in foreign land, he wanted to build a temple for the LORD. God denied him of the privilege. “Then King David rose to his feet and said, ‘Hear me, my brethren and my people: I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made preparations to build it. But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood’” (1 Chron 28:2-3 NKJV).
However, God granted his son, Solomon, the privilege to build a house for Him. Solomon himself recalled this desire of his father when he said, “Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the LORD God of Israel. But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name’” (1 Kings 8:16-19 NKJV).
Despite the fact that God did not permit David to build a Temple for Him, he made a lavish preparation for the building of the Temple. He gave generously and mobilized the people to give towards this project. Only someone with a heart after God, would have done that. Some people would have seen God disallowing them to build as an excuse not to do anything. David had a heart after God a heart to please Him. He had a willingness to do the project even if not directly. The Bible says, “Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD; and King David also rejoiced greatly” (1 Chron 29:9 NKJV).
David, a man after God’s heart, said concerning the giving towards the Temple project, “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You” (1 Chron 29:16-17 NKJV). What David and the people gave was enormous and substantial enough to make Solomon start the building project.
Solomon’s disloyal heart
Solomon must have learnt from his father what it meant to have a heart after God and for God to describe one as a man after His heart. At the dedication of the Temple, he charged the people to have a heart loyal to God. “Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day” (1 Kings 8:61 NKJV). That was Solomon speaking when his own heart was still loyal to God. He had not derailed, and abandoned the living God.
What the Bible says of Solomon later was diametrically opposed to what he had asked the people to do. 1 Kings 11:3-4 says, “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David” (NKJV). Obsession for women you may call that. It looks like madness! What would a man do with such a harem of women? It went beyond the problem of number. Strange women became strange wives and brought their strange gods, which stole the heart of Solomon from the true God.
Solomon paid dearly for making his heart turn against the God of his father, the God that put him on the throne. “So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen’” (1 Kings 11:9-13 NKJV).
Solomon inherited a united kingdom, but he laid the foundation for its break-up, which his own son, Rehoboam, consummated. Solomon was not the only king in Israel and Judah whose heart was not loyal to God. Most of the kings that reigned, after the kingdom was divided, did not do what was right in the sight of God. They were not like David, a man after God’s heart. David became the reference point – the benchmark for measuring the performance of subsequent kings in the land of Israel as regards doing what was right in the sight of God.
God wants you and me to be people after His own heart. God never forgets such people. God never forgot David. His covenant with him was everlasting even when his children messed things up. God would always say, “For the sake of my servant, David.” His covenant with David is everlasting. Those who are after God’s heart are those He would say are after His own heart. They are those whose hearts are in harmony with Him. They are those who will fulfill the purposes of God. They are those who are pleasing to Him in every way.
Conclusion: To become a man after God’s heart, you need to come to Him by putting your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and following His teachings. You need to fear Him, walk in all His ways, love Him and serve Him with all of your being. Jesus put it this way: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets’” (Matt 22:37-40 NKJV). Mark 12:29-31 says a same thing.
Don’t forget: God looks at the heart; He knows what is in your heart. He knows whether you fear Him or not. He knows if you love Him with all your heart and soul. He knows whether you obeying His Word or you are just posturing or grandstanding. He knows if you will fulfill His purposes.
Love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10b). In other words, love satisfies all of God’s requirements. If God is going to say you are a man or woman after His own heart, you must surrender your heart, soul and mind to Him; you must use them to glorify Him. Love nothing more than God. Sacrifice whatever you need to sacrifice for His sake. Use your mind or intellect to magnify Him. Avoid any knowledge that is contrary to the Word of God or His worship, or does not acknowledge His supremacy. Let the things that matter to God matter to you.
Love the LORD with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8 NKJV).
The writer of Ps 42 says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” (verse 1 NKJV). Do you thirst for God? Let your heart long for Him.
If you are not born again, have you considered where you will spend your eternity? I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I confess my sins and repent today. Forgive me Lord. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and my Lord and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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