"But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you." I Samuel 13:14
For me, the most fascinating man in the Bible has always been David, a man after the very heart of God. It's not just that that is a description that I've always hoped to share in, but that David, like me, and you, and so many others, was a very flawed man. A man who knew failure, who stumbled, who fell down, and who fell short. A man chosen to replace Saul, a bad king, yet who himself seemed an even worse one. David the adulterer, the murderer, the inconsistent father, and, the man after the heart of God. With all of his failings, how could this be so? With all of mine, of yours, how can it be so for us?
I heard Mark Rutland speak about just what it was that made it so for David. He said that what made David a man after His heart wasn't that he never failed. What made him that was that in his failures, in his falling, he always fell at the feet of God. In his imperfections and flaws, when he stumbled, he didn't fall back, away from his hearts love, he fell towards Him. He fell at His feet...in worship. That was the attitude of his heart. His heart was always inclined towards His Father. There were times his heart became distracted by other things. There were times when the "eyes" of his heart were blind, deceived. Times when he walked against the light and will of His Father. Yet in all of those times, when his Father brought him face to face with his failure, his sin, his response was to immediately fall forward, at the feet of the One he loved. The One who owned his heart, even after his heart had wandered.
This is what marks the one whose heart is after Him. It is not that such ones are perfect, never failing or falling. It is not that they have never had their hearts drawn away to other, lesser, even wrong things. It is that in the midst of all that, when confronted with the wrong, the failure, the sin, they fell at His feet...in repentance and in worship. They did, they could, because their heart was a heart that ultimately was always after His.
The sins of Saul seem minor in comparison with David's, so why was David defined as having a heart for Him and not Saul? Saul, when confronted with his failures with God, denied, or made excuses, or evaded responsibility. In the confrontation, he moved away from Him. David, when coming face to face with his own failures, fell forward, at the feet of His God, the One he loved, worshiped, and belonged to. It's what made him a man after God's own heart.
None of this is an excuse for choosing to sin against Him. The Father will always deal with our sin. He did so at the cross of Christ, and through that cross will confront our sin and call us to Himself. When that happens, we'll display one of two hearts, Saul's or David's. We will either deny, excuse, or run from the confrontation. Or, like David, we will melt before Him, and fall at His feet. One of the two. Which one am I? Which are you? When you fail, in which direction does your heart fall? At His feet before Him, or.....? One direction leads to Life. We all know where the other leads.