The question, “From where does David’s heart come?” may be the wrong question. It doesn’t necessarily come from somewhere or someone in the sense that it is received or imparted. A heart like David’s is developed. It grows and matures certainly by what it allows to be its focus or treasure, by the priorities it chooses that crowd out many other considerations.
Purity of Heart
The pure in heart see God, Jesus says. Doctrinal statements can be written about “purity of heart” that answer theological questions, and that is fine as far as it goes, but the reality of a pure heart has more to do with decisions made, disciplines applied, and devotion chosen. The pure heart is, of course, cleaned up by the power of redemptive experiences, God doing in us what we can never do for ourselves, but purity of heart that sees God isn’t a moment’s touch of grace.
Purity is both the absence of impurities and the singleness of priority that maintains a state of purity and priority. Purity of heart has a lot to do with “first or primary love.” Jesus says, Primary or first love can be abandoned. Such devotion produces passionate behaviors, the heart demanding a thorough response from the total man or woman in which it beats. Maintaining this level of passionate love requires constant sacrifice. The overwhelming flame must continually consume other good things!
Purity of heart is also purity of purpose. That is, the behavior that purity of heart demands has within it a fulfillment of what that love proposes a man or woman should do as a direct consequence of the passion of the heart. It is not merely the avoidance of adulterous thinking and action; it is the fulfillment of daily devotion.
A person with a checklist of actions and activities will leave the object of their contrived devotion feeling empty. Merely avoiding things inconsistent with loving devotion doesn’t equate to loving devotion since loving devotion has actions and activities of its own, responses of its own purpose that bring completeness and fullness to the object of true passion. That is, purity of heart is more than avoiding impurity.
Dr Don: Purity of heart is more than the avoidance of impurity. Heart purity consumes all that seeks a claim upon what a pure heart has chosen, a continual sacrifice of good, wholesome, valuable things that must take lower positions of importance, attention, energy, and time. Purity of heart is purity of purpose, not a checklist of things avoided. The Law gave a check list of things avoided but did not purify the heart, but Jesus arrived to bring Law and Prophets to fullness.
Purity of heart wasn’t about avoiding adultery but making marriage everything God designed the Covenant to be. Purity of heart was about speaking accurate testimony in crisis but making “yes” mean “yes” and “no” mean “no” in everyday conversations. Purity of heart wasn’t about doing no murder but releasing life to your enemy even at your own expense, not having a motivation to destroy him through less obvious means.
So, purity of heart sees God because other objects blur and fuzz when the heart’s perspective is keenly upon Him. More than the absence of idol statues or alluring entertainments, purity of heart is fully-focused upon His Glory. In this is liberty. Through this singleness everything appropriate to one’s life enters marked by its proper priority.
The widow’s mite was powerful in its purity of purpose while the Pharisee’s parade of provision mocks the very purpose it was advertised to fulfill. In this way we can better see David’s heart…
David’s Heart for Purpose
David would carry this aspect of a pure heart into a valley to fight Goliath. Mark well in your mind what David means when he tells King Saul, lounging in his tent surrounded by armor and weapons, that he will face the giant successfully because of facing down lion and bear. David isn’t giving his bona fides, trumpeting before himself a list of accomplishments as proof of his amazing strength, courage, and readiness for battle. David is talking about principles of purpose that proceed from pure heart!
David never watched sheep “because he had to.” David never watched his father’s sheep with a heart to avoid being careless. David never worshipped while watching sheep merely to fill the time. David didn’t develop skill with a sling and smooth stones as a trifle. David never occupied his valley and territory merely to make his shepherding easier. David did what he did with singleness of purpose, and that purity of purpose was the basis for his purity of heart.
To have a heart like God’s heart, you need a pure heart. The pure in heart see God because God is looking at them. God is always looking at purpose; and when God sees a heart purify by purpose, He positions that person for kingdom leadership.
In keeping with our premise that God positioned Saul to contrast with David and reveal true kingdom leadership, what God saw in Saul was a heart that falls far short of devotion. Saul lacks a heart that “can love so much” that it fulfills purpose. Saul’s heart says, “Do I have to?” when exposed to assignment while David’s heart says, “Whatever it costs me.”
Whence cometh this level of devotion? Where does God find leaders with a heart like David’s? Modern leaders seem to ask question like this because they fail to comprehend that such devotion comes from personal pain, not by magical or mystical menagerie. Note Saul’s shallow assessment of David’s preparation as a warrior, comparing David to Goliath, “You’re a mere boy and he has been a warrior since he was a child.” Inference? “Goliath has been prepared by the greatest war-making machine, equipped with the best that nation can put into his hand, accompanied by an armor-bearer bigger and stronger than you, surrounded by armed men. The idea is ridiculous!”
Having never experienced a heart purified by deeper devotion, Saul has no context into which he can fit David’s passion. Saul appeared to be a champion by height and arm strength. Saul appeared to be a good leader because he looked like leaders of other nations. Saul was accepted as a leader like other nations because Saul acted like them; Samuel warned the people they were asking for a leader who would be selfish and tyrannical. Saul lived by his own purposes, so he couldn’t understand a person like David. “Risk your neck? Why?”
Note the reward offered would benefit David’s family. Note that David was moved by what this victory would mean to Jesse and Jesse’s family: money, king’s wife, and family no longer pays taxes. David wasn’t motivated by this as much as he was curious about it enough to ask the question of more than one person. Perhaps David was a bit confused about why no one was stepping up to claim the prize, let alone why no warrior – no real man – in Israel lived by purpose.
David will tie purpose to principle, clarifying that no other action but facing Goliath seemed appropriate or even a possibility. David arrived at the battle with something in his heart that no other man in Israel seemed to possess. This is the basis for David’s heart! Purpose! Purpose tested by principle consumed by passion.
“Your servant faced the roar of lion and bear, and he is not hesitant to face the roar of Goliath,” the “boy” says to his king.
David hadn’t spent seventeen years sitting in front of a television that screamed, “You can have what you want, get it today, consume this, eat this, hold this, experience this, identify with this.” He didn’t know the whole world revolved around him getting what he wanted. His life wasn’t filled with uninterrupted exposure to the mantra, “You are a consumer. You are a consumer. You are a consumer.” So David’s heart didn’t seek what he wanted to eat, drink, or what would bring pleasure and ease to his own life. David lived to fulfill purpose so he lived by principle.
David’s heart to face Goliath was purified by facing lion and bear. He learned to risk it all for love. He risked it all for a little lamb in a lion’s mouth. Purity of purpose produces purity of passion.