“But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’” (Acts 13:22)
What does it mean to be a man or woman after God’s own heart?
God’s too smart to be impressed with outward trappings of success or charming looks and personalities. He isn’t impressed with our accomplishments or credentials. What matters to God is our hearts.
God has the ability to look deep inside us. It’s almost like he has some kind of spiritual X-ray that moves past the surface level and perceives the condition of our hearts. And it’s what he sees in our hearts that pleases or displeases him. According to 2 Chronicles 16:9, God searches the earth continuously to find people whose hearts are completely committed to him. When he sees those hearts, he gives favor and strength to those people.
David is an example of someone whose heart pleased the heart of God. If David can be a man after God’s heart, so can we. What characteristics do we see in David’s life that made God so pleased with him?
- He had a heart of faith. Through faith in God, David killed the lions and bears that attacked his father’s sheep, and he killed Goliath, who attacked God’s people. “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine” (1 Samuel 16:37). David knew it wasn’t his own strength or ability that brought victory—it was his absolute, unwavering faith in God.
- He had a heart for God’s word. David wrote in Psalm 119:1-2, “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.” To have a heart after God’s heart means we read and meditate on his word so we can understand his heart. It means that what matters to God matters to us. It means if God says change, we change. It means that what breaks God’s heart breaks our hearts. It means we love who God loves.
- He had a repentant heart. Part of what makes David such a compelling character is the ups and downs in his life. He was a man after God’s heart…but he was an adulterer. He was a man after God’s heart…but he was a murderer. In Psalm 51:2-3, we see David’s repentant heart: “Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin, for I recognize my rebellion. It haunts me day and night.” We may not commit adultery or murder, but we will mess up. When we mess up, we need to admit it, ask for forgiveness, and repent sincerely from our heart. God forgives and restores us when we come to him with a sincere heart of repentance.
God doesn’t require us to be beautiful to look at, filled with personality, or extraordinarily successful. He also doesn’t require us to be perfect. But he does require us to commit our whole hearts to him, to have faith, to love his word, and to repent when we make a mistake. Have no doubt about it: God notices a person with a heart that is committed to him, and he showers that person with his favor and his strength.
Dear God, I love you. I want to give you my whole heart. Make my faith stronger and deepen my love for your word. Help me love what you love, and cry about what makes you cry. And when I fail, help me to sincerely repent with my whole heart. As your eyes search the world for hearts committed to you, I pray you will see my heart and bless me with your strength. Make me a person after your own heart. In Jesus’s name, amen.