How Can a Murderer Be a Man After God's Own Heart?

David’s always been somewhat of a mystery to me.

The Bible describes him as “a man after God’s own heart.” The same Scripture, however, also describes his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, his cold-hearted murder of her husband, and the death of their infant son as a direct result of David’s sin.


This doesn’t sound like a man after God’s own heart, yet here it is—right in the middle of Paul’s powerful sermon at Antioch—scriptural proof that David occupied a special place in God’s heart: “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'” (Acts 13:22).


In my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I’ve just finished reading the book of 1 Chronicles. This and other parts of Scripture give me a glimpse into what made David so dear to God.

This is important to discover because I want to be a man (woman) after God’s own heart. 

David exhibited many admirable qualities: courage, loyalty, perseverance, generosity, and leadership, but I believe it was David’s humility that endeared him to our Lord.

Here are three examples of David’s humility: 

1. He was humble about his position. 

One day God spoke to David and revealed all he planned to do through him and his family: cut off your enemies, make your name great, provide a homeland for your people, set your son upon the throne after you, and establish a permanent covenant with your descendants.

And understandable response would have been: It’s about time God noticed how hard I’ve been working for him. It was no picnic playing lullabies for crazy King Saul every time he had a headache or a bad dream. And do you know how many Philistines I’ve killed over the years? And how many nights I’ve spent on the run, sleeping in damp caves? We won’t even mention the assassination attempts . . . It's about time for me to be recognized.

Instead, “King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: ‘Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” (I Chr. 17:16). David was humble.

2. He was humble about his wealth. 

He led Israel in an enormous capital funds campaign to gather the resources Solomon would need to build the temple of God. Although he could have hoarded it for the royal treasury, David donated thousands of pounds of gold, silver, and bronze toward the project. He challenged the people to give generously, then went above and beyond what was expected of him as a leader by donating vast amounts of gold and silver from his personal treasuries (I Chr. 29:3-5).

Instead of proudly standing before God and declaring how his military prowess and business acumen enabled him to give so generously, he humbly asked God, "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (v.14).

3. He was humble about his sin. 

In a moment of doubt and fear, David sinned grievously against the nation by ordering a census of the fighting men. He ignored the counsel of his general and brought severe judgment upon Israel. When God convicted his heart of his sin, instead of defending his logic and reasoning, he confessed, repented, and assumed full responsibility for his actions.

“David said to God, ‘Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? O LORD my God, let your hand fall upon me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people’” (1 Chr. 21:17).

David was far from perfect. Over the course of his lifetime, he often failed his family, his nation, and his God. And while I may not have committed the exact same sins as David, I, too, have failed the people around me and hurt and disappointed my precious Savior.

This is why David’s story gives me hope. It reminds me that it is God who grants me the opportunities to serve him and the ability to work and give. It reminds me that God knows my frailties and loves me anyway. It reminds me that if I come to him in humble repentance, his door of forgiveness and restoration will always be open. 

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 

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  1. Anonymous1:29 PM

    If only I could be so humble. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Oh my, I'm there with you -- it is my heart's desire, but I fall so short!