To understand why David was a man after God’s own heart, we  need to see what characteristics he had to qualify for such an exalted  description. In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul is speaking before the men of  Israel, and he tells them of God’s feelings about King David. Speaking first of  King Saul the Apostle Paul states, “After removing Saul, he made David their  king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after  my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22). The obvious question is, how could God call  David “a man after His heart” when David was such a terrible a sinner, having  committed adultery and murder? Much has been written regarding the meaning of  the verse and its applicable value today. Much has also been written about  David, especially in the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles and 1 and 2 Kings. However,  we find much of his character in the book of Psalms as he opened up his life for  all to examine. David’s life was a portrait of success and failure, and it  highlights the fact that he was far from perfect. But what made David a cut  above the rest was that his heart was pointed toward God. So what does it take  to be a man after God’s own heart? Let’s look at some key characteristics of  David’s life to find out.

First, David had absolute faith in God.  Nowhere in Scripture is this point better illustrated than in 1 Samuel 17 where  David as a young shepherd boy fearlessly slew the Philistine, Goliath. Shortly  before the duel, we see direct evidence of David’s faith in verse 37 where David  says, “’The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of  the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to  David, ‘Go, and the LORD be with you!’” David was fully aware that God was in  control of his life, and he had faith that God would deliver him from impending  danger. How else would one venture into a potentially fatal situation with such  calm and confidence? David knew early on in life that God was to be trusted and  obeyed. As we see in Scripture, David’s faith pleased God, and he is rewarded  for it by the Lord.

Second, David absolutely loved God’s law. Of the  150 psalms in the Bible, David is credited for writing over half of them.  Writing at various and often troubling times in his life, David repeatedly  mentioned how much he loved God’s perfect Word. We find a beautiful example of  this in Psalm  119:47-48: “For I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift up my  hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.” It is not  hard to see his complete adoration for God’s Word. But also notice how he  mentions that he “meditates” on God’s statutes. God granted David understanding  and wisdom through daily meditation. We would do well to not only read God’s  Word but also think about it throughout the day for God loves when we think  about Him. “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their  heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways” (Psalm 119:2-3).

Third, David was truly thankful. “I wash my hands in innocence, and go about  your altar, O LORD, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your  wonderful deeds” (Psalm  26:6-7). David’s life was marked by seasons of great peace and prosperity as  well as times of fear and despair. But through all of the seasons in his life,  he never forgot to thank the Lord for everything that he had. It is truly one of  his finest characteristics. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts  with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (Psalm 100:4,  ESV). As followers of Jesus Christ, we would do well to follow David’s lead  of offering praise through thanksgiving to our Lord on a daily basis.

Fourth, David was truly repentant. “It happened, late one afternoon, when David  arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he  saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David  sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the  daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ So David sent messengers and  took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying  herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman  conceived, and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant’” (2 Samuel 11:2-5). The  mighty fall hard, and David’s fall included adultery, lying and murder. He had  sinned against God and he admits it in 2 Samuel  12:13: “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan  said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’” But  admitting our sin and asking for forgiveness is only half of the equation. The  other half is repentance, and David did what we should all do: repent of our  sins. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance to God: “Have mercy on me, O God,  according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my  transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my  sin!” (Psalm  51:1-2).

In conclusion, David demonstrated his faith seemingly on a  daily basis which pleased the Lord. Throughout his life his faith would be  tested on a grand scale and in the final analysis he passed most of the tests.  David also loved God’s law and he sought to follow it as best he could. He spent  many days meditating on it and trying to apply it to his own life. He knew that  God’s law had the power to change lives if it was followed to the letter.  Another important character trait that David exhibited was that he had the  attitude of gratitude and was very thankful for his life. During his life he had  all sorts of trouble, but David thanked God every day no matter the  circumstances. And, finally, David was truly repentant. Let us not forget that  he was a man just like us who sinned on a regular basis. But, despite his sin,  he always loved God and sought to repent of those sins. He is a role model for  all of us sinners who need to repent earnestly. David was indeed a man after  God’s own heart.