Sunday Sermon: ‘A Heart That Pleases God’


This morning we are beginning a new series of sermons on the life of David. There are a couple of reasons why I’ve chosen to study about David. For one thing, he’s one of my favorite Bible characters. In addition, all of our adult SS classes have recently begun a series of studies in the book of Psalms, and since David wrote at least half of the psalms, I thought that it would be good for us to take a look into his life.

I. The Setting for David’s Story

As a way of introduction into the life of David, we need to take a moment and consider the setting for his story.

A. A Day When There Was No King in Israel

The Bible says that there was a time when ‘there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’ (see Judges 21:25) Before David became the king of Israel, there was a time period when God used various men and some women to lead the nation. These leaders were known as ‘Judges.’

The last of these Judges was a man named Samuel. Scripture teaches us that Samuel was a godly man. Samuel was godly, yet unfortunately, he raised some ungodly sons. Since there was no king in Israel and since there were no one from Samuel’s family qualified to lead the nation, the people pleaded for a king. (see 1 Samuel 8)

Though their request was not unreasonable, their unwillingness to wait upon God was. They had forgotten that God was to be their ultimate King and that He would provide them an earthly king in His time.

Samuel tried to warn them what would happen if they chose the wrong king. “This man will only take from you…” Samuel warned them. “He will not give to you.” Yet they insisted and therefore the Lord gave them a king named Saul.

B. Saul, a King After the People’s Heart

The Bible says that Saul was ‘a handsome young man’ who was literally ‘head and shoulders taller than all the rest.’ (see 1 Samuel 8:2) The choice of Saul was based solely upon his physical appearance and without any consideration of his relationship with God.

Their choice of Saul proved to be a disaster. Eventually Saul was revealed to be a man who was very self-centered and insecure. He repeatedly disobeyed God and on one occasion, he even assumed the role of a priest and offered up sacrifices. Eventually there came a time when God openly rejected Saul.

“And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue… the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart…”  (1 Samuel 13:13-14)

C. David, a King After God’s Heart

Saul was a king after the people’s heart. He was more concerned with what the people thought of him than what God thought of him. Obviously, such a leader is not going to lead the people in a godly manner.

While Saul was leading in a foolish manner, God was selecting His man to be the next king of Israel. Notice that the Bible says: “the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart…” What does it mean to be a man or woman after God’s own heart? Chuck Swindoll describes it as: ‘a person whose life is in harmony with the Lord.’ [1] That’s what every child of God should desire to be. We should all desire to be a man or a woman whose life is in harmony with God. I pray that this series of sermons will inspire each of us to become that man or woman.

II. The Selection of David

A. God’s Criteria for Selecting Kings

The first thing we need to consider is God’s method for selecting kings. We’ve already seen that when the people made their selection, they selected Saul solely upon his physical appearance. They wanted a king who was handsome and therefore make them look good as a nation. How does God make His selection?

Paul tells us in the book of 1 Corinthians that God chooses His servants in a very different manner. Rather than choosing those who appear to be strong and influential, God chooses those who are weak and insignificant. Why does God choose the weak? Paul tells us: “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power may be from God and not from us.” (see 2 Corinthians 4:7) God chooses weak vessels to display His power so that the glory may go to Him and not to the vessel.

B. God’s Selection of David

1 Samuel 16:1 And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

The prophet Samuel was sent to the house of a man named Jesse who lived in a tiny village called Bethlehem. As I read, this my mind went to another king who was also born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

We know that this great king is our Savior, Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

When Samuel arrived at Jesse’s house, he discovered that Jesse had several sons. Since Samuel didn’t know which son the Lord had chosen, he had all Jesse’s sons to pass before him.

1 Samuel 16:6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.

Eliab was the oldest son and apparently strong and handsome. Therefore, naturally,  Samuel assumed that he must be the man God had chosen. But notice what God said:

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

God didn’t reject Eliab because of his handsome appearance. God rejected Eliab because he lacked something important in his heart. Men evaluate us based upon our outward appearance and performance. God evaluates us based upon what’s in our heart.

Samuel was confused. He knew that God has sent him to Jesse’s house to anoint a king, yet it appeared that none of Jesse’s sons is the man God has chosen.

1 Samuel 16:11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep.

 The term ‘youngest’ refers not only to David’s age, but also to his status in the family. David was not only the youngest in age of his eight sons; he was also considered by his family to be the least important and most insignificant.

If you’re here today and feel as though you have nothing to offer God, I pray that this sermon will encourage you. God’s not looking at your physical beauty or earthly accomplishments. God is looking at what is in your heart. God is looking for men and women whose heart is in harmony with Him.

I pray also that If you’re here today and your heart is not what it ought to be, this sermon will stir something within you to begin today seeking God’s help to change. God created you to be used for His glory. Many years ago, a man by the name of Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote: “It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”[2]

C. David Had a Heart That Pleased God

1 Samuel 16:11 …And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. 12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to…

…And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.

What was it about David that drew God to him? First of all, we should note that David was a nice looking young man. The term ‘ruddy’ means red and probably refers to the fact that he was tanned from having spent so much time in the sun. Scripture also says that he was handsome. David was probably a very strong and healthy looking young man.

But God did not choose David based upon his physical appearance. God choose him based upon what was in his heart. What did God see in David’s heart? Psalm 78 teaches us that God saw three outstanding qualities in David’s heart that made hit fit to be a king. I pray that God will help each of us to possess these three qualities as well.

1. A Servant’s Heart      

Psalm 78:70 He chose David also his servant…

Notice that God referred to David as His ‘servant.’ God loves people who are willing to be servants. Jesus said that in God’s kingdom, servants are the great one. (see Matthew 23:11)

The greatest illustration of the importance of being one of God’s servants is found in our Savior. Consider what Paul wrote about the servanthood of Jesus.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! NIV

Though Jesus is God and therefore worthy of the worship of angels, He voluntarily laid aside His glory in order to become His Father’s servant.

Christ’s greatest act of servanthood was not His incarnation or even the washing the disciples’ feet. His greatest act of servanthood was His willingness to die on the cross for our sins.

2. A Shepherd’s Heart 

David not only had a servant’s heart, he also had a shepherd’s heart.

Psalm 78:70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: 71 From following the ewes great with young He brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.

What does it mean to have a shepherd’s heart?

a. A Shepherd’s Heart is Someone Who Cares About Others

During those long, lonely days in the fields watching over his father’s sheep, David was being interviewed by God for a more important task. By the way he was faithfully caring for his father’s sheep, David was demonstrating to God how he would care for the people of Israel.

b. Jesus Had a Shepherd’s Heart

Jesus Christ is our greatest example of someone with a shepherd’s heart. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Someone with a shepherd’s heart genuinely cares about people.

3. A Sincere Heart 

David had a servant’s heart and a shepherd’s heart. He also had a sincere heart.

Psalm 78:72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.

Notice that David led the people of Israel according to the integrity of his heart. The word ‘integrity’ refers to his sincerity. David guided them according to the skillfulness of his hands. In other words, David wasn’t a slacker. He gave everything he had to caring for his father’s sheep.

God isn’t looking for perfect people because there are no perfect people. God is looking for men and women whose love for Him is real and genuine, and whose greatest desire is to bring Him glory.


[1] Chuck Swindoll, David, A Man of Passion and Destiny, (Nashville, Nelson, 1997) p6.

[2] Robert Murray M’Cheyne,  September 10, 2017


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