David’s mistakes echo throughout his 40 years as king like the hiss of a drawn sword. Adultery, murder, deception, rage, hubris…
But despite all of his failings, God called David, “a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22) How is that possible?
Learned commentators parse God’s reasons for this declaration:
“David was quick to repent.”
“David was humble.”
“David was obedient…” and certainly these qualities were hashed into his life.
But only when David stood wobbly-kneed from age, did he have enough experience to counsel his son Solomon:
“…acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”
How did David become the man after God’s own heart?
Hard knocks taught David that God loved him as much DURING his sinning as he did AFTER he repented. God loved David in spite of his rebellion, in spite of the pains he inflicted on others, and in spite of the ones he received.
When David’s self-centeredness surfaced, God held him by the shoulders, looked deeply into his eyes to connect with his soul–and shook him hard enough to rattle his teeth. God’s unconditional love was the reason David repented. God’s love was reason enough for him to learn humility. Finally, as a mature man, it was his reason for obeying.
God offered David his tough but merciful hand, and David ALWAYS grabbed hold.
As students of scripture, we analyze David’s dysfunctional life–but God only sees a shepherd boy. And when the scarred-up old warrior died, God embraced his shepherd boy in heaven.
This is why we dare not condemn the preachers who swing their coats at a crowd. This is why we cannot condemn the men and women of other denominations who apply the law of God too thoroughly.
Condemn their diluted doctrines? We must. Condemn their antics and hubris? Yes. Condemn sin? Absolutely.
But never forget that God may see THEM as his shepherd boys and girls. Their initial experience with Christ may have been just as intimate, powerful and acceptable as our own, and God may be leading them back to field and flock again.