After God’s Own Heart

After God’s Own Heart July 23, 2012

The narrative of King Saul’s life always frightens me.He seemed to have so much potential: he was humble (1 Sam 9:21), he had God’sSpirit on him (10:9-13), he looked the part (10:23-24), and he inspired othersto follow (10:26). But he totally flamed out. He was completely rejected byGod, and by the end of his days he resorted to a séance to get anything goingspiritually. 

David’s life, of course, stands in sharp contrast.Everything Saul lost, David gained: God’s favor, the kingdom, popularity withthe people, a lasting legacy… all of it. But some time ago I noticed anothercontrast between David and Saul that I think might explain why David got it alland Saul lost it all. I noticed it in these six words from David’s mouth: “Ihave sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam 12:13). 

Obviously, David’s sin isn’t the contrast. Admittingit is. I went back to 1 Samuel 13 and 15 and double checked, and sureenough… Every time Saul was confronted with his sin, he made excuses. He nevercomes right out and says, “I have sinned against the Lord” except as a lastresort to impress other people (1 Sam 15:30). Saul handled his sin byrationalizing, denying, covering, ignoring, and blaming others for it. ButDavid handled his with honest, humble confession. 

What distinguishes David from Saul is not that Saulcommitted worse sins. No, it’s that Saul committed self-atonement for his sins.David, however, trusted another to atone for him: “The Lord also has put awayyour sin; you shall not die.” (2 Sam 12:13) 

What does it mean to be “a man after God’s own heart”like David? Apparently not sinlessness. Just genuine repentance for sin andsincere faith in Jesus Christ to forgive and cleanse.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfastlove; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash methoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Psalm 51:1-2