Nurturing A Heart like God’s

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Paul once said that “God made David Israel’s 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) What greater thing could be said about any mortal man? Knowing that David too was a sinner, and knowing that the natural condition of the human heart is described as incurably deceitful (Jer 17:9), it is remarkable indeed that God viewed David’s heart with such approval. Having the heart that won God’s approval was no accident, nor a quirk of nature, but really the result of decisions that David made, and habits that he cultivated in his daily life. To nurture a heart that God approves in ourselves we might consider imitating some of David’s daily habits.

So what did David do, every day? Psalm 55 opens with David pleading for help from God, saying that he was troubled and distraught. In verse 16 of the Psalm David acknowledged that when he calls on God, God saves him. Then David went on to write in Ps 55:17

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. (NIV)

Of course we are to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17), and we can converse with God anytime, anywhere, formally or informally. Even so, David saw great value in a daily habit of praying to God morning, noon and evening (as did Daniel, Dan 6:10). It may be that we already pause in our day and thank God for our food morning, noon and evening, and that is appropriate, but David nurtured a godly heart by setting aside time to pray 3 times a day, a habit worth cultivating.

David began Psalm 68 by saying, “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered.” He then rehearsed some of the great displays of power God had shown in the past when he rescued his people. Verse 18 of the Psalm begins with the phrase “when you ascended up on high…”, which Paul cites as a description of Jesus’ victorious ascension into heaven (Eph 4:8). For the Christian, the phrase “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered” takes on special significance in Christ’s resurrection and subsequent ascension. Like David, we should realize that God is constantly watching over us and blessing us, as he went on to write in Psalm 68:19-20 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death. (NIV)

Not only did David pray to God morning, noon, and evening, but he also took daily stock of the help and deliverance that he received from God. This of course cultivates a spirit of gratitude, which certainly pleases God. We know and should affirm daily that our God is a savior indeed, bringing escape even from death through the redemption we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Psalm 59:16 David wrote that he would sing of God’s strength, “in the morning I will sing of your love.” To have a godly heart, beginning the day with vocalized praise is very helpful. In fact, in Psalm 59 David drew a harsh contrast between those who oppose God and will suffer the consequences, who “spew swords from their lips” (59:7) and in turn are rebuffed by God, and the one who begins his day with words of praise for God. The wicked are described as “snarling dogs” (v.14) who will be destroyed for the “sins of their mouths… the words of their lips… for the curses and lies they utter” (Ps. 59:12-13). The question asked by those whose mouths spew swords, curses, and lies is “who can hear us?” (Ps. 59:7) and the answer is, God hears and God brings judgment upon them. To have a heart like God’s, we should begin our day with words of praise, and watch our mouths carefully all day long.

Another daily habit that David cultivated was meditation on the things God had already done and already said. To find solace in times of distress David said:

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. (Ps 143:5-6 NIV)

David meditated, not on nothing, but on the works of God, the works preserved in God’s own word. He continued then to ask that the “morning bring me word of your unfailing love” and that God would “Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” (Ps 143:8). God has provided an invaluable resource in his written word, both a testimony of his past actions, and daily guidance for the way his people are to live. To have a heart like David, a heart that pleases God, meditation on the word and works of God will provide the guidance we need at the beginning of each day, and the encouragement to stay true to our commitments.

In Psalm 61 David asked God to bless the king with long life and security in his presence, indeed for eternity with God. What David there requested is again fulfilled particularly in the victory of David’s heir, Jesus the Christ. In the Psalm David acknowledged that he had some responsibilities himself, vows that God had heard (61:5). He affirmed that with God’s assistance he would “ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day.” (61:8). This is the needful accompaniment to praying morning, noon and evening, taking daily stock of God’s providential care, beginning our day with praise instead of curses or lies, and finding guidance in meditation on God’s word, namely fulfilling our responsibilities by living up to the moral and ethical principles Jesus has given us, loving others as he has loved us.

Cultivating such habits in our daily lives will provide the living material to fulfill God’s promise for his redeemed people that he would “give you shepherds after my own heart , who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jer 3:15 NIV)

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