King David was identified, by God himself, as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 16:7). In 1 Samuel 17 we see what this precisely means—David had a heart that hallowed God’s name above his own name. Consequently, he felled the blasphemous Goliath who was defying (lit., “heaping shame upon”) the living God and his people. David’s highest aim was that “all the earth may know there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:47).
The question arises, though—How does a heart like this show up in everyday life? Are there specific concepts or words that describe someone who is person “after God’s own heart,” someone who hallows God’s name above all other names? Four threads seem to emerge from 1 Samuel chapter 17.
SENSITIVITY — Just as David was repulsed by Goliath’s blasphemy and sin, thus immediately finding it offensive and incomprehensible, so people with a heart after God’s react in like manner to sin and to that which is a reproach upon God’s name. People who hallow God’s name are quick to recognize sin and confess it, even confront it when necessary.
So are we to to confront all the sin we see in others? Are we to go to battle with everyone who sins against God like Goliath? Relax, Jesus already has, and he won. So, no. Admittedly, there are times when in a biblical manner we’re called to, but we’re not the David of 1 Samuel 17. Jesus is! Furthermore, Paul affirms that God is revealing his wrath against all unrighteousness (i.e., those who suppress the truth) even as we speak (Rom 1). This will culminate in final judgment one day when he returns. So no, we’re not on a Christian jihad!
Sensitivity to sin is more about a personal gauging than a public gutting. And your level of sensitivity tells you more about your own heart than the heart of others. You see, the true child of God may not be able to fix the effect of every sin, whether done by him/her, to him/her, or around him/her. But there’s a certain spiritual healthiness to feeling the weight of those sins, and ultimately resting in the forgiveness of the greater David—Christ—from the penalty of those sins.
AUTHORITY — People with a heart after God’s know whom they are “under”—God Almighty. David knew this, which is why he immediately volunteered. His response was one of quick obedience to God. People who honor God’s name are quick to obey because they know his name carries weight and authority.
COMMUNITY – David was shocked that the covenant community was so easily tolerant and afraid of the giant’s ridicule and blasphemy, as if they were ashamed and embarrassed to be God’s people. David was the opposite. He called out the “uncircumcised Philistine” and challenged his fellow Israelites to own their name and responsibility.
Likewise, God’s true people are not ashamed of the name they wear. We are, without apology, God’s people. We are Christ’s followers. A blood-purchased assembly. As such, there needs to be a readiness to associate, an eagerness to identify with the ones God has purchased. After all, our distinction is our greatest attraction. Frankly, when there’s shame about who we belong to corporately (i.e., the body), there’s probably reason to wonder if we even belong spiritually (i.e., to the Head). When we run from our horizontal identification, maybe it’s actually because we’re vertically disconnected.
GLORY — “That all the earth would know” was David’s ultimate goal. God’s fame broadcast far and wide was David’s vision. People with a heart after God’s are global people who see the nations, the ethnicities, as God’s ultimate family, and they know he’ll bring them together around his throne.
More challenging, the one with a heart after God’s sees God’s glory as the highest priority in all things, not just some things. Meaning, if the success, if the trial, if the loneliness, if the heartache, if the weakness, if the difficulty highlights the greatness and wonder of God’s character, they are content that the most important item has been accomplished.