Much ink has been spilt speculating on what it was in or about David that enabled God to label this king as “a man after His own heart” (I Sam. 13:14). More precise and definitive answers have been offered than what follows, but surely the testimony of David in the eighth verse of Psalm Twenty-Seven goes a long way toward answering that question. Regardless, it offers an invaluable insight into the character of David and of a trait that surely pleases the Lord. And for our purposes, when David wrote—“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.’”—he provided a pattern and incentive for our lives.
Note David’s attentiveness. How often does the Lord come to us and find nobody at home? The spiritual line is busy because we are consumed with temporal interests or concerns. The sense that we get from our text is that David’s ear is attuned to His Lord’s voice; the Lord did not need to wait in line to speak to David, to shout over the din of David’s responsibilities for the nation, concerns for his family, or preoccupations with pleasure. David lived a listening life. “When,” he writes—at the very moment You spoke I heard You the first time; You didn’t need to repeat Yourself. So much legitimately vied for David’s attention that most of us can barely imagine the pressure he felt from all the responsibilities that weighed on him, yet a word from God had his priority.
Note the Lord’s priority. “Seek My face.” David might be excused for feeling overwhelmed by his responsibilities and believing his time with the Lord should be spent on problem-solving. After all, David mentions “evildoers,” “adversaries,” “enemies” and his “foes” elsewhere in the psalm; he clearly feels besieged when he writes: “I cry with my voice” (v. 7). But the Lord’s priority for David is not immediate deliverance nor a practical answer to David’s dire predicament. It is this: “Seek My face.” God calls David to an intimate relationship with Himself. What is urgent in David’s life—the threats of enemies—must not be allowed to undermine what is essential—communion with the Lord. Until David’s relationship with the Lord is what God wants it to be, nothing else can be resolved properly;indeed, nothing else matters.
Note David’s reaction. “My heart said to You . . . .” David does not respond with excuses, rationalizations, or even apologies. He does not respond with mere words. The Lord’s voice evokes an immediate and positive response from David’s heart: God has control of the core of David’s being, his thoughts, his affections, his will. David does not offer mere lip service; nor does he feel compelled against his will, reluctantly doing what he would rather not do. No, his is wholehearted obedience. What the Lord requires David willingly gives.
Note David’s attitude. “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” Those two little words of address—“O Lord,”—speak volumes. They contain meekness, humility, submission, reverence, devotion, and love. It’s as if this is the invitation for which he has been waiting. If only the Lord will show His face, if only the Lord will bring near His Presence, that will suffice. Yes, I have problems. Yes, I have great needs. Yes, I need solutions. But if You will show Your face, if you will invite me into Your Presence, all will truly be well. “O Lord”—what earnestness those words contain. As the Lord desires David, so David desires His Lord. What the Lord wants David wants. May we, like David, become men and women after God’s own heart—listening for the Lord’s voice because we long for His fellowship and want to do His will.
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