I’ve often heard the question: If David was a murderer and an adulterer, how could he be called a man after God’s own heart? And yet, according to the Bible, he was!
Yes, David acted on his inclinations and there can be no mistaking his deep guilt. But his response to confrontation – the accountability he received from Nathan- and his subsequent choice to repent and submit to God is what leads to that designation.
He was broken, but he did not remain there.
He was guilty, but he did not defend his sin or justify it.
He confessed it to the Lord and was forgiven. He agonized over his sin in the face of the Holy God whom he knew to be loving, yet also just. The consequences of his choices remained – his son from that liaison died and another son sought to kill him, but before the God who knew him, he was restored and transformed. He acknowledged his guilt, repented, and sought the heart of God.
From that day forward, David chose to follow hard after God who forgave him so much.
He asked God to CREATE in him a clean heart. To create something, it must be lacking. So he was asking God to instill in him something he knew he did not have – a clean heart.
And David asked God to RENEW a right spirit within him because he knew his spirit was beaten down, tainted by his sin, and could so easily again be led astray. He knew, as Jeremiah 17:9 says, that “the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.” To stay steadfast, it was clear to him that he had to be hidden in God Almighty. At his point of surrender, he did not run and hide as Adam and Eve did in the garden but came clean before God, for he knew he could not cover himself.
David humbled himself before the God of Eternity, before El Elyon – the Most High God, before Yahweh His Lord!
And God restored him.
Indeed, in terms of a sinful heart, none of us are any different. For each of us have sinned against the three times Holy God in a myriad of ways, both in actions and thoughts that we have nurtured and not given up to the Lord. So, Jesus says that in our hearts and with our hands, we have sinned against God and deserve judgement.
But praise be to Him when we have exercised the self-control that is a fruit of the Spirit, a gift from Him in the first place, and not acted on those thoughts and desires leading to sin with greater consequences. But make no mistake, thoughts contrary to the law and truth of God that we feed and nurture rather than submit and confess, are sin. We “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!” (Romans 3:23)
It is not for us to compare ourselves to others and think we look pretty good. Our only comparison is to be against our three times Holy God and in that we are found sorely lacking, every time; it’s why we each need a Savior.
The great joy is that our God has provided Jesus to redeem us, to pay the penalty – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) And that same Savior died and was raised to life to free us from the power of sin as well – “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness…and to live self-controlled…lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14)
Just like David, we can humble ourselves before the Lord, acknowledge rather than justify our sin, turn away from it, and be restored to the heart of God where there is true freedom. And where there are consequences for our actions, as David had to face, God gives the strength and the courage to walk through them and even use them for our good and His glory!
When I was a child, there was a song, “Dare to Be a Daniel,” and that we are to do. In Daniel of old’s footsteps, we are to model his faith and courage in God and be people of integrity who dare to stand against the culture (and to our own self-promoting ways) when it is contrary to God’s heart.
But I also think we must dare to be a David; I must be. As a Daniel, I am to stand boldly in God’s strength. As a David, I will seek to be a woman after God’s heart; a woman willing to say “Show me my sin, Lord, and create in me a clean heart, O God! Renew a right spirit within me!” (Psalm 51:10)
Then will I be restored and refreshed and able to bring that restoration and refreshment to others.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” Acts 3:19