David: “After God’s Own Heart”

Graceful Leaders - Biblical Encouragement for Leaders

1 Samuel 13:13-14 “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said to Saul. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”

1 Samuel 16:7 “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Acts 13:22 After removing Saul, he (God) made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

King David of Israel was known for his diverse skills both as a warrior and as a writer of psalms. In his 40 years as ruler, between approximately 1010 and 970 B.C., he united the people of Israel, led them to victory in battle, conquered land, and paved the way for his son, Solomon, to build the temple. His time of leadership is considered by historians to have been “the Golden age of Israel.”

Standing out in David’s bio is how the Lord Himself, when He chose David as King Saul’s successor,  paid David an amazing compliment in describing him as “a man after His own heart.”  A millennium later, in a sermon in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, the apostle Paul remembered God’s affirmation of David and added these words, “He will do everything I want him to do.”

David was far from perfect. He lived large, as the saying goes. So when he sinned, he sinned big-time. The affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah will forever show David to be capable of huge moral failures. Yet God calls him “a man after my own heart!”  Why?


God pays attention to the heart of the leader. The heart is where we make our moral commitments or compromises. The heart is where our loyalties are forged or left to atrophy. The heart is the seedbed for our integrity or our duplicity. In our hearts we file away the words of God and treasure them or we smother them in the busy details of leadership. Luke writes that Mary, in all the chaotic events surrounding the birth of Jesus, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 20:19). Strong leaders take time to ponder what goes on deep inside the heart of their relationships.

Read Psalm 51, likely written after David’s sins of adultery and murder, and listen to David pray, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (vs. 10). Or read David’s Psalm 119, honoring God’s word with amazing detail, and listen to David say, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin” (vs. 22). What was there in David’s heart that God so appreciated? David truly loved the Lord. He loved God’s Word. He loved doing God’s Word and will. And when he faltered, he came back to where He belonged, close to the heart of God, who is forever ready to forgive. This heart language belongs to all great Christian leaders, whose hearts belong to God.     

Graceful Leaders is a series of meeting devotions designed for staff and lay leaders of Christian congregations. The series uses Biblical leaders as embodiments of grace-filled leadership in the church. The series is written by Dean Nadasdy, President, Minnesota South District, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Copies may be made and distributed within local congregations.