A man after his own heart
“You’re a man after my own heart” says one country music fan to another.
“You’re a woman after my own heart” says the man to his new girlfriend as she serves him his favourite dessert.
These are common ways that we use the phrase today. But they are subtly different from each other. In the first sense “a man after my own heart” means a man whose heart is set on what my heart is set on. It means that you like what I like. In the second sense, being “after my heart” means you are aiming to please me. It means you want to tap into what I like and give me my heart’s desire.
Well the biblical phrase, a man after God’s own heart, has both these senses. It’s talking about a man who is like God and who wants to please Him.
The phrase comes in 1 Samuel chapter 13 where we see the failure of Israel’s first King – Saul. He trespasses a forbidden boundary (offering a sacrifice which only the priests can do) and is deposed. Samuel tells him:
thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. (1 Samuel 13:14)
Just as Adam, the world’s first King did what was forbidden, so did Saul, Israel’s first king. Just as Adam trespassed and was deposed, so is Saul. And just as Adam was told about Another who would undo what he had done, so is Saul.
Here Samuel predicts a second King to answer the folly of the first. And this King would be a man after the LORD’s own heart.
he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:6-7
Finally Samuel comes to David – the youngest – and he is anointed. He has a heart that is after the LORD’s heart. God and His King are to have a heart-to-heart relationship – an intense bond of love and intimacy.
In this way David pictures for us the true Messiah – the One who is eternally in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). And David, this little christ, will picture for us the Person and work of the true Christ. He will be the second King who puts right what the first has done wrong.
Tomorrow we will see how he does that by crushing the adversaries of God’s people. But for now let’s meditate on the heart of the King. David’s heart is a picture of Christ’s.
Think now about Christ – the One who is “after God’s heart” in both the senses we began with:
He both wants what God wants and He does what God wants.
He’s both the Revelation of the Father’s desires. And He’s the Fulfiller of those desires.
As the God–Man He shows us what the Father is like. As the God-Man He performs what the Father likes.
He’s like God in every way and He delights God in every way – the true Man after His own heart.
Our hearts are very fickle. Our desires are incredibly wayward. But look to Christ. He offers to God the true sacrifice, the true obedience and the true worship on our behalf. And so too does He offer the true heart to God. If God was waiting for me to fulfil His heart’s desires He’d wait in vain. Thankfully, Christ has done it for me.
The Father is already well-pleased with His Son.
Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth. (Isaiah 42:1)
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)
And Christ has taken flesh to fully satisfy His Father in our place:
“Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:9)
Now when we come to Christ we come in on a loving union that is unbreakable.
God hath made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6)
In Christ we are welcomed into His own eternal heart-to-heart!
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