After God’s Heart

Do you ever read your bible and wonder what was God was thinking? Sometimes I do. While I’ve been camping out in 1 Samuel with my kids, we read in chapter 15 about how God told King Saul to go against the Amalekites. They are recorded as being some of the descendants of Esau and had been trouble to the Israelites, beginning with the Exodus from Egypt.

God told Saul, “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.ā€™ā€

Saul only obeyed to a point. The king and the best of the animals he spared. He believed it would be better to sacrifice the best of the livestock to God. God’s prophet, Samuel, was furious with him because of God’s displeasure. He killed the Amalekite king himself, and had to deliver the bad news that because of Saul’s disobedience, the kingdom would be taken from his household. {In addition, David later battled Amalekite’s in chapter 30, so apparently not all of them were destroyed.}

Some things are hard to understand, and so I asked God, why would he destroy even the animals for the sin of the people? A few weeks later, a dear friend and teacher shared with me that while listening to a Jewish Rabbi teach, she had learned that archeological excavations have uncovered evidence that within some of the areas that Israel was commanded to destroy, the people suffered from syphilis; even the cattle were riddled with it (This is anecdotal information).

A disease like that would have been incurable in those days. Anything that survived and bred would have spread disease. In addition, Israel was to reserve the very best of their flocks for the Lord, and while they could not look at the animals and see that they were carrying a disease, God knew. He would have known if and when livestock was unfit for sacrifice.

When Saul was confronted for not obeying all of God’s directions, he just didn’t get it. He made excuses, and acted like the child who is sorry that you are angry with him, but not not truly sorry for what he did wrong. There was no repentance. Samuel told him that God delights more in our obedience than in burnt offerings and sacrifices.

God decided that the next king would not be one who met the criteria of the people, but instead he chose a man who he said was after His own heart.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.ā€ 1 Samuel 16:7

God chose David. He was a man of faith who loved the Lord and boldly stepped out to defend Israel’s honor. Yet, we know that as mistakes go, David made some doozeys. He slept with another man’s wife, and then when she became pregnant, David had her husband killed to protect himself from being discovered. However, when God confronted David, he grieved his sin and was truly repentant. He wrote the 51st chapter of Psalms in response to the Lord.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

David got it. He understood that to have a heart after God is to pursue God’s heart. What does He love, what does He hate, what does He desire…?? The closer we walk with Him, the more we see the world through His eyes and care for the things that move Him. We know that we can trust Him because we know His character, and he sees the heart of every situation, whether it is my attitude or someone’s health… I can trust His judgement, even when I don’t understand, because it is always right. He is so good, He even goes out of His way to send answers to our insignificant questions…

Are you a man or woman after God’s heart? In hot pursuit of the only One who satisfies? Your heart is what He has wanted all along. Come closer.

Image by Jackson David from Pixabay

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