Something that I had always never quite gotten a good grasp on was how King David was considered to be a Man after God’s own heart.
How foolish! Samuel exclaimed. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command. — 1 Samuel 13:13-14
I always focused on his Sin with Bathsheba. How David lusted after another man’s wife. He then slept with her and then had her husband killed to cover up his sin, because Bathsheba’s was now pregnant and her husband was off at war. I always thought about this event and thought “How can David be a man after God’s own heart?” But as I read 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel over this weekend I saw a characteristic in David that I have been seeing in God as I have been reading the Old Testament. God forgives. God is merciful on those who do not deserve it. Much of David’s life mirrors this characteristic of God. David is merciful to those who harm him, kill him and even betray him. Saul, Israel’s first King keeps trying to kill David, yet David does not ever attack or say anything disrespectful to Saul. Because Saul is the King of God’s people. So who is David to attack the one God has appointed as ruler of His people? David was merciful to Saul over and over again. David even had one of Saul’s crippled son’s eat at his table during his entire reign as King.
At one point a man throws stones at David and calls him names while he is King.
As King David came to Bahurim, a man came out of the village cursing them. It was Shimei son of Gera, from the same clan as Saul’s family. 6 He threw stones at the king and the king’s officers and all the mighty warriors who surrounded him. Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel! he shouted at David. The Lord is paying you back for all the bloodshed in Saul’s clan. You stole his throne, and now the Lord has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, for you are a murderer!
Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Abishai son of Zeruiah demanded. Let me go over and cut off his head!
No! the king said. Who asked your opinion, you sons of Zeruiah! If the Lord has told him to curse me, who are you to stop him?
Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, My own son is trying to kill me. Doesn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses today. So David and his men continued down the road, and Shimei kept pace with them on a nearby hillside, cursing as he went and throwing stones at David and tossing dust into the air.
The king and all who were with him grew weary along the way, so they rested when they reached the Jordan River. — 2 Samuel 16:5-14
David’s guards move to kill the man but David says to his guards to let the man live and he lets the man continue to taunt him and throw stones. Why? Because David did not want to possibly kill one of God’s messengers if this man were doing this because God was leading him to throw stones and insults. Most Kings would not have responded as David did. This would have not been tolerated. But David was different, he was merciful.
So why is David a man after God’s own heart? Because he is merciful, patient, understanding. Since Israel didn’t want to follow God, God found Israel a King that would lead very much as God led, with mercy.