By Blake Switzer, Senior Pastor at Gateway Community Church
“I’m really struggling with this,” my friend told me in a recent phone conversation. “I’m having a hard time coming to grips with how David could be called a man after God’s own heart after all he did.” That’s a legitimate struggle. I definitely understand his point. We had just finished studying the passage in 2 Samuel 11 where David committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Everything about David’s sin with Bathsheba was so wrong – on so many levels. How could someone sleep with a woman he knows to be the wife of one of his best warriors who is out on the battlefield fighting David’s battles? Then, after he discovers that Bathsheba is pregnant, he tries to cover up his sin by bringing her husband Uriah home in hopes that he’ll sleep with his wife and it will look like the child belongs to Uriah.
David didn’t take into account that Uriah is a man of honor and refused to lie with his wife when his brothers in arms were sleeping in tents on the battlefield. He wouldn’t even go into his own home. So David takes things to another level and sends Uriah back into battle with his own death sentence – an order to the commander to put Uriah in the front of the battle lines where he will be killed.
So how in the world can an adulterous murderer be labeled as a man after God’s own heart? Keep in mind that David retains this title even in the New Testament. He wasn’t called a man after God’s own heart before we what consider to be some of his “big” sins that are recorded in Scripture. Even after making terrible mistakes, David still is known as a man after God’s own heart.
The answer is found in the way he responded once he was confronted with his sin. The prophet Nathan obeyed God’s direction to confront David (which, by the way, took amazing courage). Once David realizes he has been found out, here is his response as recorded in 2 Samuel 12:13: “I have sinned against the Lord.”
When confronted with his sin, David didn’t make excuses for it. He didn’t attempt to blame someone else for it. He didn’t rationalize it. He owned it. Although he had been trying to hide it for a year, when confronted he did own it and acknowledged that he had sinned. Even when he had been living in rebellion against God for a year, David never lost his tender heart toward God.
Although some serious consequences came as a result of what David had done, God did forgive him. Not only did He forgive him, but He allowed David to continue to be used by God in powerful ways such as writing many of the Psalms we know and love. None of that would have been possible had he not owned his sin and asked God for forgiveness and restoration.
So what does it mean to be a man or woman or child after God’s own heart? Evidently, it doesn’t mean being perfect. But it does mean having a tender heart toward the things of God. And it means being willing to acknowledge our sin when we fall short. Is it time to stop making excuses and simply own your sin? Once you do, God stands ready to forgive you and cleanse you and enable you to be a man or woman after His own heart.