Every night, for as long as I can remember, I’ve checked on my sleeping children right before I head to bed for the evening. One reads as long as he can until his eyes fail him; the other nestles into a new position every night, stockpiling stuffed animals and pillows at differents spots on his bed to create a different sleeping position each night. But the prayer I lift over both of them is the same, night in and night out, for both boys.
“God, I pray that he grow up to be a man after God’s own heart.”
The phrase comes from I Samuel 13:14 (and recounted by Paul in Acts 13): “But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” It’s a condemnation of Saul by the prophet Samuel and the blessing of the shepherd boy David.
For those keeping score, that’s David who is the least and last of the line of Jesse elevated by Samuel’s blessing like discovering the servant boy is actually King Arthur, the only one who can draw the sword from the stone;
That’s David who slays Goliath with a rock from the brook and a slingshot, against the mighty warrior from the warmongering nation of Philistia outfitted with the best armor and strongest weapons known to man;
That’s David who escaped the treacherous, murderous assassination plots of King Saul;
That’s David who played music that moved kings and God;
That’s David who raised up the only remaining heir of his best friend from destitution to royalty, even though doing so would mean he had a family line who owed him death;
That’s David, whose son Solomon built the Temple that God had longed for humanity to build.
Pretty sweet, right?
But there’s a flipside here, too.
That’s David who slept with a man’s wife, then had him killed to hide up the affair; that’s David who treated the Ark of the Covenant like a lucky rabbit’s foot; that’s David who banished one wife for her disdain, even after she’d been traded around as a tool for power.
Suddenly, God’s own heart isn’t about the great stuff David did but the way that God worked through David, as David himself recognized his faults and cried out to God for forgiveness. David is a man after God’s own heart not because he was good (or great) but because David knew he couldn’t make it on his own, without God.
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2, NIV)
I pray today that you would let God use this time to examine your heart, to right the wrongs of your inclinations, and to clean out the corners that have been left dusty for too long. May we be people after God’s own heart.