May 01, 2022 | Letters from the Lead Pastor by Brandon Lenhart
The ancient Greek philosopher, Plutarch, wrote: “Character is simply long habit continued.” If that is true, then character traits are simply the manifestations of a person's true character. Character traits can be either positive or negative. The way a person reacts to various situations and circumstances draws these characteristics out for better or worse. Some positive examples are: self-control, patience, and resilience. And, here’s a list of not-so-good character traits: unfaithful, jealous, and impatient.
The Bible is full of examples of men and women whose character is often defined by the pressures and/or temptations placed upon them. How they respond to situations is indicative of what they have hidden within. For the famed Israelite king, David, his character was defined by being a “man after GOD’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
How was David’s character such that he was esteemed as a man after GOD’s own heart? There are several indicators that seem to point to this. The first was that David was faithful. As a shepherd in the household of Jesse (his father), David would have necessarily been trustworthy and hardworking to have been entrusted with the responsibility of tending the sheep. A shepherd’s livelihood was the protection of the sheep from bandits, robbers, predators, and the like. David would have necessarily exhibited trustworthiness.
a David’s arrival at the battlefield in 1 Samuel 17, as the Israelites are facing the Philistines in battle stands as one of the greatest examples of courage known in Scripture. For days the great Philistine warrior, Goliath, had been taunting Saul and his men. However, when David arrived, after hearing Goliath’s jeers, he was infused with righteous indignation to confront the ungodly Philistine. David’s courage and belief in GOD drove him to bravely defeat Goliath in a one-on-one match with just a sling and a stone.
David’s actions weren’t always righteous, however. We know the story of Bathsheba and Uriah in 2 Samuel 11-12, was one of the great blunders of the so-called “man after GOD’s own heart. The adulterous affair with Bathsheba, and the murder of Uriah, would mark David for the rest of his life with troubles that would follow him to his grave. But even in this great tragedy, David proved to be a man aligned with GOD’s purposes through repentance and brokenness over his sin.
When confronted by the prophet Nathan, David humbled himself in repentance. The character trait of humility would be the defining characteristic of David’s life. Rather than rebuke Nathan, or turn into a bitter, hateful man, David softened and submitted to the consequences of his actions. Rather than continue to spiral out of control when confronted with his sin, the way King Saul had done, David accepts responsibility for his actions and is willing to accept whatever punishment that GOD pours out.
He willingly accepted the death of the child conceived in the adulterous affair and lived in humble regret for the rest of his life. In fact, Psalm 51 is the best example of repentance in the Bible. David writes, “I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say and your judgment against me is just.”
David recognizes there is no one else to blame but himself. He realizes that GOD is more than justified to strike him down for what he’s done. But he pleads for GOD’s mercy and forgiveness. He pleads for salvation and redemption, for he knows that only GOD can give it. David also recognizes that a mere animal sacrifice cannot atone for the sin that he has committed as he writes, “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O GOD.” This very fact and his broken and repentant heart is what made David a man after GOD’s own heart. This character trait is what set David apart.
What character trait sets you apart from all others? Would you like to be called a man/woman after GOD’s own heart? It doesn’t take perfection; it takes humility and repentance. It takes courage and faithfulness. It takes persistent patience and a willingness to surrender everything to GOD. Are you willing?