Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, March 31, 2024
Shavuah Tov,

After God’s Own Heart
by Jerry Miller

“But now your kingship will not last.  Adonai has sought for Himself a man after His own heart.  So Adonai will appoint him as ruler over His people—because you have not guarded what Adonai commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:14, TLV)

Our verse here is taken from the story of Saul, the first among the kings of Israel.  Unfortunately for Saul, this came at a point when God had determined that Saul’s kingship was coming to an end.  Perhaps you recall the story.  The prophet Samuel had given Saul specific instructions from the Lord related to bringing a sacrifice to Him.  Rather than doing exactly what God had commanded, Saul’s obedience was only partial.  Saul rationalized doing things his own way, as his own actions, for various reasons, made more sense to him at the time than God’s exact instructions.  This, of course, was a costly error, as the Lord determined that another would need to be king—a “man after His own heart.”

The idea of being a man or woman “after God’s own heart” is something that should attract us as followers of Yeshua.  The verse above, while clearly speaking to a specific situation, suggests that God does seek for Himself people after His heart in a broader sense.  This is what Adonai desires, so it is only natural for us to want to be among those He would describe in this way.  But what does it actually mean to be someone after His heart?  When considering this question, we might think of David, who of course followed Saul as king.  David was an extravagant worshiper, and we may assume that quality is what made David a man after God’s heart.  While a life as worshipers is indeed foundational to our walk with God, there seems to be a deeper principle related to the question at hand.  Actually, Samuel explains the principle in the verse above, as well as in the larger passage in which the verse is found.  Let’s consider this.

Later in the verse, Samuel says, “…because you have not guarded what Adonai commanded you…”  Following after God’s own heart essentially comes down to obedience.  When God shows us something we are to do or not do, we must guard that word and not allow ourselves, as Saul did, to water it down through natural human reasoning.  The key word here is “guard.”  In the Hebrew the word is sha-mahr.  It means to guard or keep or watch over something.  When God speaks something, we must take it so seriously that we guard that word.   We give the word our attention, guarding against any influences that would seek to diminish the importance and integrity of the word.  So what exactly does that mean?  Well, let’s think about this.

God gives us instructions that are not meant to be optional.  Yet we can find ourselves questioning His instructions.  Sometimes, to us, His instructions do not make sense to our natural logic.  We think that another way would be a better fit for a situation.  But as those who are committed to guarding that word, we choose not to add or take away anything from it.  The only appropriate response is obedience.  When natural thinking or reasoning leads us to rationalize actions that modify God’s word, even in seemingly small ways, we are compromising.  In Saul’s case, the circumstances led him to assume it would be acceptable for him to make an illegal sacrifice himself rather than waiting for Samuel to arrive.  In Saul’s own eyes, this seemed acceptable since, after all, it was a sacrifice to Adonai.  The problem is, it was a violation of God’s instructions based on natural thinking.  Thus, it was unacceptable in God’s eyes.

We are to be a people who guard God’s instructions rather than taking them lightly or thinking them to be optional.  Obedience is at the core of being a man or woman “after God’s own heart.”  As believers we might struggle with this idea, because we can wrongly assume that a focus on obedience becomes a form of works-righteousness.  This is a wrong assumption.  You see, we do not obey in order to earn our righteous standing with God.  Yeshua alone, and our trust in His perfect obedience, is the basis for our right standing with God.  But right standing should not be confused with the fruits of our right standing, which is, a life committed to obedience arising from our heart desire to please Him in all respects.  We obey God because we love Him, and we want to express that love through a life that obeys what He has instructed.  This is not about works righteousness.  It’s about love, and from a heart of love, wanting to please Him.

Bringing this back to the basic question we’ve been considering, here is the simple truth we must see.  Obedience, even when it seems to not make sense, is at the center of being a man or woman “after God’s own heart.”  The challenge to us all is simply this.  Are we guarding the word(s) God gives to us, or are we watering it down?  This is a question that we, as Yeshua-followers, must be asking.  What is at stake here is whether or not you and I will be a man or woman after God’s own heart.  May God give us abundant grace for living out this life to which we are called.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
21 Adar II Sunday 31-Mar-24
Leviticus 9:1-16 Isaiah 17-18 Proverbs 3 Acts 20 Revelations 14