Thursday, November 25, 2010

A man after God's own heart...

I've had David on the mind lately--David the king, outlaw, poet, shepherd, warrior, murderer, seeker, and worshiper.

What is it, exactly, that made him "a man after God's own heart?" It couldn't have been his righteousness...anything he did, for we all know how often David screwed up.

I love the Psalms. It is, I think, the part of the Bible that I turn to more often than any other. I love Ephesians, but there are days when I can read it and get nothing new out of it. It's the same with Romans, and the Prophets, and even the Gospels which I've read and heard hundreds of times through my life. It's true of a lot of the Bible.

But the Psalms...they're different. For they aren't necessarily there so I can "get anything out of them." When I read, "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary." ...those words aren't there to teach me anything (though they can anyway). They're there for me to speak out, to echo from my heart. As are those that are crying out to God for help.

Good and bad, struggle and victory, it's all there in the Psalms...and I think it's there, it all it's variety, to show us the inside of what it means to be a man after God's own heart.

What do we see of David's heart? What is it that God liked so much?

In writing out everything that I am seeing, I'm discovering that this is far too long for one post...so I might end up doing a little series.

But today, for Thanksgiving, I'd like to focus on how David always found a way to praise and thank God.

Look at Psalm 69. When David wrote this, he obviously wasn't feeling so triumphant or victorious (v. 4). He feels worn out and exhausted (v. 3) and as if he's drowning (v. 2 & 15). He is fully conscious of his sin in the way we are when we've just screwed up and we know it (v. 5). He feels totally alone, for no one is offering him sympathy and comfort (v. 20). Have you ever felt that way?

So what is the response of a man after God's own heart? What does he choose to say and do? How does he respond to God when he feels this way?

Verse 16: "Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion turn to me, And do not hide Your face from Your servant."

He relies on God's greatness and goodness. He doesn't doubt that it is there, even though he's going through all this stuff, and He knows that God's greatness and goodness is the only reason that He can call on God for help.

It's all about God.

And he therefore says, "I will praise the name of God with song, And magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the Lord...Let heaven and earth praise Him..."

How about when David sins with Bathsheba? What is in his heart when he is finally convicted of His sin?

Psalm 51:
"Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions," and "Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise." For he knew that, "A broken and contrite spirit, O God, You will not despise." And therefore God would restore him and forgive him, and therefore God was worthy of praise and adoration.

How about when he's afraid?
Psalm 56
"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise..."

I could list hundreds of verses.

But what I want to point out is that, for this man whose heart God loved...it didn't matter what his circumstances or what was going on. The Psalm may start with struggle, and pain, and anger, and defeat...but it always ends in praise.

David knew that God is enthroned upon our praises (Psalm 22), and that praising Him in every circumstance is surrendering every circumstance to Him, that He may use His power to work His will in it...and that His will was always good, therefore He is worthy to receive the praises that allow Him to work!

It's the most glorious circle that ever existed...and this man after God's own heart chose to initiate this unending circle, rather than the vicious circles of condemnation and defeat and powerlessness that are out alternative.

I'd like to challenge anyone who struggles with discouragement and depression and loneliness and emptiness. Take Psalms to your heart. When you feel that way and you can't find the words to praise God, open to the Psalms and flip through until you find one that echoes what you're feeling. Let the words of the Psalmist echo your heart, and allow your heart to follow through until it speaks words of praise.

As for me, today, "I will enter His presence with thanksgiving..." (Psalm 95)

2 comments:

  • Katie says:
    Wednesday, December 01, 2010

    Well...

    First, I don't know that he did have to take the direct wrath of God, minus any mercy. David wrote that "His mercies are new every morning," so I think he saw quite a bit of God's mercy.

    David also had the Spirit in some way, for after Bathsheba, he pled, "Don't take Your Holy Spirit from me." He did not have the gift of tongues...but I don't know how else it may have been different from us being filled with the Spirit today. He clearly knew God and heard Him.

    But what would he look like today? Well...I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if the vast majority of "Christians" would have passed judgment on him based on his actions, and written him off. I think he would have been an eccentric leader who didn't do what almost everyone thought he should. He would have had people say he couldn't be a Christian 'cause he had an affair with the woman next door to the White House. And he couldn't be a Christian because he was so ruthless in his slaughter of his enemies. He couldn't be a Christian because he spent so much wealth building himself a palace and none building a church for the nation's God.

    And yet...those who actually knew him, and who were fellow seekers of God, would recognize in him a man who had deep peace and joy, not because of anything he'd done or not done, but because he knew his God. Those people would recognize the repentance when he had his affair, and they'd trust that, if David said God told him not to build a temple, then that was that. And when his family squabbles split the nation, they'd remember that it doesn't take a perfect person, or a perfect parent, to know God and love him and worship him. In fact, the more screwed up you are, the easier it probably is, for "he who is forgiven much, loves much."

    I think that, if David was alive today, and we Christians were given the opportunity of finding out that the screw-up in the White House was the "man after God's own heart"...I think a lot of us would realize thousands of ways that we judge people without even realizing it.

  • Katie says:
    Wednesday, December 01, 2010

    (first comment deleted by author request)

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