“My Heart and My Life”: Lessons from the Days of David

By: Beth Doohan

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

“…For He had made a covenant with David and promised that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever.”  2 Kings 8:19b

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Here at The Wholehearted Woman, part of our mission is helping women be fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ in all things. When I think about this calling, one of the greatest biblical heroes of the faith comes to mind. He authored our mission’s Scripture, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). That’s right—King David!

From the humble beginnings of a shepherd, God selected David to be king over Israel and made his name great as a powerful warrior and leader. As my husband Corey and I recently reflected on David’s story, we were struck by how set apart he was from other leaders of Israel, both before and after his reign. The Bible tells us that God’s favor was upon him. So we asked ourselves, what was it that made David so different?

Throughout David’s life, we see again and again how open and transparent he was before the Lord. The Psalms reveal David’s heart and fervent prayers to God. His life shows that David looked to the Lord for His approval and sought to obey Him fully in all that he did. His wholehearted devotion and sincere love of the Lord is what made him a man after God’s own heart. David was heavenly-minded, always thinking about things above and how to please the Lord. Unlike many other Israelite rulers who sought favor with man or followed their own self-interests, David made decisions based on his relationship with the Lord and seeking to follow Him.

One of the most powerful elements of David’s story is that he followed the Lord from his youth. His challenges as a shepherd boy trained David for a life of service to the Lord. That is not to say that a Christian’s impact is diminished if they did not follow the Lord in their youth. But for David, his youth was a season of preparation.  In Psalm 8:2, David penned, “You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength,” showing he recognized God’s hand in his life from a young age. As we discuss his early years, take note how David wholeheartedly served the Lord and trusted in Him, which prepared him to rule as king.

God Sees Our Hearts

Have you ever felt unimportant, or that what you are doing in life is insignificant? I have news for you: God promises that as you remain faithful in little, you will be entrusted with much (Luke 16:10). Think of David, who from humble beginnings was chosen to reign as king of Israel.

As Saul, David’s predecessor, continued to disobey God’s commandments, the Lord told Samuel that He was grieved He had ever made Saul king. He instructed Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king. When Samuel arrived, he thought he knew which of Jesse’s eight sons would be king just by looking at how impressive and good-looking the oldest brother Eliab was. But God told Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). As one by one the Lord passed over each of Jesse’s sons, Samuel asked if there were any others. Indeed, there was one, the youngest of them all, who was tending to the family’s sheep in the fields. As David approached, God told Samuel to anoint him, for he was the Lord’s chosen one.

Why did God choose David to be king? David had learned to be faithful with little while caring for his father’s sheep. Through encounters with lions and bears, he had learned to trust in the Lord no matter what and knew that God would protect him. The Lord saw David’s heart of obedience and surrender to Him.  We learned by Saul’s example that “Obedience is better than sacrifice and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (I Samuel 15:22b).

As daughters of the King, God wants us to surrender our whole hearts to Him and serve Him faithfully. David understood this and devoted himself completely to the Lord. In Psalm 33:16, 18, David wrote, “[The Lord] made their hearts, so He understands everything they do…the Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love.” Whatever season you may be in, perhaps one preparation, action, or renewed surrender, keep in mind the shepherd boy who God selected in midst of his everyday work because the Lord saw his heart.  As king of Israel, David enjoyed great favor and blessing from the Lord. God had prepared him to reign and continued to make him victorious in battle after battle, even allowing him to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David also made some heart-wrenchingly sinful choices and suffered the consequences of his sin.

One of the most distasteful sins of David’s life was his affair with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. After he had committed the act, he further sinned by trying to cover it up. When he could not convince Uriah to return home to be with his wife during battle, David arranged a bloody murder for him on the front lines of the fight. However, when Nathan the prophet confronted David about it, he quickly admitted, “I have sinned against the Lord” (II Samuel 12:13). Immediately, Nathan responded that the Lord had forgiven him.

In great contrast, when Saul had sinned and was confronted by the prophet Samuel, Saul made excuses and refused to admit his sin before the Lord. Because David humbled himself and repented of his wrongdoing, the Lord continued to bless him, although in consequence the child Bathsheba bore died.  But through it all, his ultimate response was humility and surrender before the Lord, admitting his fault and not making excuses. David chose to keep his heart open before the Lord his entire life.

As we go through life, our hearts should be humble before God. Our heart’s cry when we have fallen short should be like David’s in Psalm 51, which he wrote after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew a loyal spirit within me” (verse 10).  This is the work of God in us.  Under the new covenant now as followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our identity is in Christ!  And yet, we continue to live in a fallen world and still need to ask God to search our hearts, to reveal any areas of sin in our lives, and be willing to repent before the Lord as He makes us more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18)!

Serve God Like No Other

What was it that distinguished David, to make him be called “a man after God’s own heart”? Among all the kings of Israel and Judah, God said that no one followed Him like His servant David, even though there were other kings who did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. What was different about David’s relationship with the Lord?

First and second Kings documents the history of rulers who reigned over Israel and Judah after David. We see a pattern in this account that each one either “did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight” or “did what was evil in the Lord’s sight.” Even if a king followed the Lord, he often did so with mixed loyalty. We see this pattern over and over again of kings who sought to please the Lord but also failed to remove the idols in his nation, failed to remove shrines and detestable practices, or failed to follow God’s instructions.

In contrast, David served God with his whole heart. The Psalms are a window into David’s heart of surrender and openness before God: “Wash me clean from my guilt; purify me from my sin”; “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him”; “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship…The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul…The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart” (Psalm 51:2; Psalm 91:2; Psalm 19:1, 7-8). These passages reveal God’s glory and nature through what He had spoken to David’s heart as His servant and anointed king. David sought to follow the Lord with his whole self.  Even when he sinned, David repented and surrendered to the lordship of his Savior, admitting his wrongdoing and asking God for forgiveness.

Serving the Lord with the whole heart affects more than just us.  It brings glory to God and impacts others!  David’s life was remarkable, and his enduring legacy has impacted generations of believers for thousands of years. Not only does the Bible tell his story, but it also holds the many psalms and hymns David wrote unto the Lord in devotion and praise. As wholehearted women, how we live now has a huge impact while we are alive, but it also leaves a godly legacy for generations to come.

God loved David and was with him as a shepherd, brought him victory as a warrior, and anointed him as king. Because David had followed the Lord wholeheartedly, God promised him that He would create a dynasty of kings from him: “Your house and your kingdom will continue before Me for all time and your throne will be secure forever” (II Samuel 7:16). God honored David with a lasting dynasty, leading all the way down to the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem.

When we faithfully serve God with our whole hearts, He promises to be with us and even with our children and grandchildren. Even though not all David’s descendants remained faithful to the Lord, God still showed mercy and special grace to them for David’s sake. II Kings 8:19 tells us, “But the Lord did not want to destroy Judah, for He had made a covenant with David and promised that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever.” Like David, we play a powerful role in our family’s legacy and heritage to follow the Lord.

Wholehearted women, let us live in total surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ as we become women after God’s own heart.  May we pray, “Lord, You have my whole heart; use my life as You will.”  As we have seen from the life of David, God longs for us to know Him deeply and to use us for His glory. Through seasons of preparation, service unto God, and even through a lasting legacy, the Lord has plans for our lives that are far greater than we could imagine as we continue to trust in Him. May we always stay close to Him, follow Him in wholehearted devotion, and delight to do His will!

Time to Reflect

1. Take some time to reflect honestly with the Lord about today’s devotion topic. What is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart through the life of David?

 

 

2. Revisit today’s Scripture passages. What do these verses teach us?  How do they change things? (i.e. The attitude of our hearts?  What we live for?  Our experience of God?)

 

 

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