Question & Answer

A Man After God’s Own Heart

Thomas A. Davis, lives in Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada. Taken from the book Questions That Demand Answers.

"A man after God's own heart"

I have many times heard people point out that David was an adulterer and murderer, yet he is in the Bible called 'a man after Cod's own heart/ I am puzzled by this. Did Cod really overlook David's evil action.

It should be observed that when the prophet Samuel made the statement (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), he did so in a certain time frame when David was chosen to be anointed to replace Saul. This is clearly stated by Ellen White when she quotes David, "I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes" (Ps. 119:112). "It was this," she states, "that caused God to pronounce David, when in his youth he was called to the throne, 'a man after mine own heart'." Education, p. 48. But does the statement also apply to David when, for example, he had committed adultery and murder? (See 2 Sam. 11:2-25).

Note the clear implications of Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 718, 719: "Every effort which David made to conceal his guilt proved unavailing. He had betrayed himself into the power of Satan; danger surrounded him, dishonor more bitter than death was before him. There appeared but one way of escape, and in his desperation he was hurried on to add murder to adultery."

"It was when he was walking in the counsel of God that he [David] was called a man after God's own heart. When he sinned, this ceased to be true of him until by repentance he had returned to the Lord." Ibid., p. 723.

When David "departed from God and yielded himself to the wicked one, he became for the time the agent of Satan." Ibid., p. 719.

Concerning David's reaction following Nathan's rebuke, we read that he "had committed a grievous sin, toward both Uriah and Bathsheba, and he keenly felt this. But infinitely greater was his sin against God." Ibid., p. 722. Would God, under such conditions, think of him as a man after His own heart?

Had Nathan not reproved David, "he would have gone on unconvicted of his heinous sin, and would have been ruined. The conviction of his guilt was the saving of his soul." Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 1023. David "humbled his heart before God in repentance and contrition of soul ... He ... was reconverted." Ibid., vol. 3, p. 1146.

On the basis of what Ellen White says of David from the time he sinned until he was reconverted, it is plain that during that period he could not have been called a man after God's own heart.

We should ponder the implications of these words: "Through successive generations infidels have pointed to the character of David, bearing this dark stain [of adultery and murder], and have exclaimed in triumph and derision, This is the man after God's own heart!' Thus a reproach has been brought upon religion, God and His word have been blasphemed, souls have been hardened in unbelief, and many, under a cloak of piety, have become bold in sin." Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 722,723.

Even Martin Luther was caught in this trap. Philip of Hesse, a German ruler won to the Reformation, wanted to form a marriage relationship that would have been bigamous. Luther defended him by holding that: "Even if a man planned the death of a husband in order to marry his widow, he should not be prevented from doing so. He referred to David, who had committed adultery with Bathsheba, caused her husband to be murdered, and then taken her to be his wife, and still remained a holy man. 'In God's name,' he cries, 'why this harshness against one's fellow men, when God himself did not require it!'" F. D. Maurice, quoted in J. Carter Swain, Right and Wrong Ways to Use the Bible, p. 116.

We should be extremely careful, in our usage of the text under consideration, that we do not in any way appear to confirm the unbeliever in his scorn or give justification to one looking for an excuse for his sin.

Thomas A. Davis, lives in Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada. Taken from the book Questions That Demand Answers.