If you knew your days were ending, what would you want to say to the people you love the most? Would you give them your best tips on investing in the stock market? Give them relationship advice? Apologize for something you’ve done? Forgive them?
I’m not there yet, but I imagine there are many things that will cross my mind that I want to say if God allows me an awareness of my impending departure from this world. We don’t always get that chance, however. I tried to google a few statistics on whether it’s more common to die suddenly or if most of us will pass away expectedly after an illness or simply that our bodies wear out from old age. Apparently, no one has kept records on this.
King David had some wise words for his people, and his son, Solomon, as he prepared to die. Solomon was inheriting the throne, which came with great potential, and great responsibility. David didn’t draw up his best battle plans for Solomon to use going forward. He didn’t explain the value of investing in gold versus silver. He didn’t share advice on how many horses to keep in the royal stable, or how big an army Solomon should maintain to defend the nation.
Instead, he literally went to the heart of the matter.
1 Chronicles 29:18-19 – O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to you; and give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision.
David knew that if Solomon’s heart was completely committed to following God, all the other details of life and kingship and managing a nation would be fine. David left the legacy of being called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). What characterizes a heart that imitates and seeks after the heart of God?
There are three key words in David’s prayer that give us insight and help us examine our hearts.
The thoughts of our heart.
Intentions [yēṣer] – Also translated “imaginations” of the thoughts of the heart (KJV). It refers to our minds, the intellectual framework that guides our thinking. Also used in the context of making pottery, as the potter frames the clay into its intended purpose (Isaiah 29:16).
Isaiah 26:3 – You keep him in perfect peace whose mind [same word yēṣer] is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Men and women after God’s own heart set their minds on Him. We must allow God to occupy our thoughts. The worship of God as He truly is must be the framework of our intellect so that every decision we make is weighed in light of scripture, and every thought is taken captive and discarded if it dishonors or does not glorify God. Our mind – the thinking of our heart – must be set on Christ.
How often do you think about God?
How much does Christ occupy your thoughts?
Do the words of scripture inhabit your mind?
What’s in your mind most of the time? Thoughts of God and how you can glorify Him or is your head full of the language, music, and thought processes of the world?
The direction of our heart.
Direct [kûn] – Also translated “prepare” their heart (KJV). It means to be firm, to be set up, established, fixed. Securely determined, steadfast, ready, or prepared.
Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right [same word kûn] spirit within me.
Men and women after God’s own heart also prepare their hearts, anticipating God’s work on their inner man – their soul and spirit. David had a great moral failure; he committed adultery and murder, but because He sought God’s heart, he knew he needed to re-direct his own heart. He asked God for a clean heart and a right spirit. This is the confession of sin – acknowledging our failures and returning to a position of humility and dependence on God – a directing of our heart.
Human hearts must be constantly redirected toward God, especially if we want to avoid “hard-hearted” syndrome! We must be tender towards the conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, allowing Him to gently steer us back into a right relationship with God.
The completeness of our heart.
Perfect [šālēm] – The word means complete, perfect, whole, full, at peace.
1 Chronicles 28:9 – As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole [same word šālēm] heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
2 Chronicles 16:9a – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect [same word šālēm] toward him.
Other translations of this particular verse describe this person as “completely His,” “blameless toward God,” “true to Him,” “completely committed,” “loyal,” or “fully devoted.”
Men and women after God’s own heart are fully devoted. The word “perfect” doesn’t mean without error. While we are perfectly holy and forgiven in Christ, and thus acceptable to God through the blood of Jesus that has cleansed us, we live in flesh and blood bodies that are yet to be redeemed. Perfect means whole, complete. It means that to the best of our ability we have surrendered all the corners of our hearts to God. It means we cease trying to succeed in this world and have turned all our attention to Christ as His ambassadors. We are fully devoted to King Jesus, holding allegiance to Him alone. He is our Master and our Lord. He directs our steps and gives us our “orders for the day.” We belong to Him, and we serve Him only. The world has no say or sway over us.
James 1:3-4 – Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
David’s advice to Solomon was given in the context of the first important task he would take on as the new king – the building of the Temple. We, too, are building a temple. If we have received salvation, we are individual temples of the Holy Spirit who indwells us (1 Corinthians 3:16), but we are also a temple collectively as the body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:19-22 – So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The condition of our hearts is a testimony to the world – a living visual of the presence of God in us. Are the thoughts and intentions of our hearts toward God? Do we direct our hearts toward Him in repentance, prepared for the work He wants to do in us and through us? Are we fully devoted with an undivided heart, not distracted by the things of this world?
If the answer is no, go to the Great Physician. For those who haven’t met Jesus, He is able to give you a brand new heart – a spiritual transplant that replaces your dead-in-sins heart of stone. If you do know Christ, maybe you just need a check-up with the Heavenly Cardiologist!
Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.