Integrity of Heart.
“David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day.” – 2 Samuel 1:11-12 NLT
David was referred to by God Himself as a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). That designation has always bothered some people because of what appear to be some significant character deficiencies in David. But these first two chapters of 2 Samuel give us some insight into what God saw in David. God knew David’s heart. He also knew David’s flaws. His choice of David was not based on perfection, but on a willingness to obey God and serve Him with integrity of heart. In fact, we read over in Psalm 78 these words regarding David:
He [God] also chose David His servant And took him from the sheepfolds; From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands. – Psalm 78:70-72 NASB
David was a man of integrity, and nowhere is this more apparent than in his reaction to the death of his arch nemesis, Saul. Think about what your reaction would have been if you had been in David’s sandals. He had been relentlessly pursued by this man for years. He had been forced to live in caves, scrounge for food, care for a growing band of men and their families, and constantly look over his shoulder in fear that Saul and his men might be there, ready to take his life. Now, he receives the news that Saul has been killed in battle, along with his son, Jonathan. Did David rejoice? Did he pump his fist and yell at the top of his lungs? Did he and his men hold a celebration? No, we’re told that his immediate reaction was one of mourning. And not just for the loss of Jonathan, his best friend. David legitimately mourned for Saul.
David received this news from an Amalekite mercenary who said that he had stumbled upon Saul in the heat of battle. When he arrived, Saul was near death and about to be swarmed by the Philistines, so Saul asked the man to take his life. The man supposedly agreed to do just that and when he had done so, he took Saul’s crown and arm bracelet and brought them to David as proof. He probably thought David was going to give him a reward for taking the life of David’s enemy. The only problem is that this man’s story was a complete fabrication. We know from 1 Samuel 31:3-6, that Saul had taken his own life. This guy had just happened to come upon Saul’s body, probably while doing a little looting on the battlefield. He fully expected David to slap him on the back and give him some kind of a reward for his “efforts.” But he was in for a surprise. David actually has the man killed. Why? Because he confessed to doing what David himself had refused to do on two different occasions. He took the life of the Lord’s anointed. David had had his chances to kill Saul and he had refused, saying, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him” (1 Samuel 24:6 NLT). You see the integrity of David’s heart. He knew that God had put Saul on the throne and it was up to God to remove him. And even when it became apparent that God had done just that, David didn’t rejoice – he mourned. He was saddened over the death of the king of Israel.
One of the characteristics of pride is resisting authority and showing disrespect to those in authority. At no point did David do this. A prideful person is also consumed with themselves, jealous, envious, not glad for others’ successes, deceitful, covering up their own faults, while gladly exposing the failings of others. David could have easily gloated over Saul’s death. He could have recounted all the times Saul had tried to kill him and that now Saul had finally gotten what he deserved. But instead, David mourned. He truly did have integrity of heart. Our reaction when our enemies fail is a great indicator of the condition of our heart. Do we gloat when our enemies face disaster? Do we find ourselves happy when we hear that someone we dislike has run into unexpected trouble? When the politician we didn’t vote for runs into trouble, do we inwardly rejoice? If so, then these reactions give a snap shot of the condition of our heart. May we pray that God give us a heart marked by integrity. A heart like his. A heart of love. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT).
Father, I want to have a heart like David had, a heart like Yours. Too often I rejoice in wrong, I get jealous, I become proud and conceited. I would have had a party if I had been David. I would have been happy to hear of Saul’s death. But David mourned. Give me that kind of a heart, Father. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men