Heart of the Matter

by T. L. Wiens

It is amazing how the similar words from two different people can lead two very different directions. King Saul and King David are a perfect example of similar words, different heart.

In I Samuel 15, Saul has disobeyed the command of the Lord. Instead of destroying everything during a battle against the Amalekites, Saul saves some of the spoils as well as bringing King Agag back alive. Samuel confronts Saul for his disobedience. Then in verses 24-25, we have these words. “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.”

David gets himself in a bad way when he sleeps with another man’s wife. We all know the story of what happens next—David has Uriah killed and takes Bathsheba as his wife. The sin is hidden or so David thinks until he’s confronted by Nathan. In II Samuel 12, we have David’s reaction to his sin. Verse 13a says; “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.” (In Psalm 51, you can find a longer confession and repentance.)

Both Saul and David confess they have “sinned against the Lord” but God’s reaction is very different. The Spirit leaves Saul and he is rejected by God. David finds mercy. What was the difference? As you read on, it becomes clear that these two men have a very different heart reaction. Saul says the right words but there doesn’t seem to be any sincerity in them. David is truly sorry for his actions and when his son dies, he accepts God’s judgment.

How easy it is to say the right words at the right time! I’m sure both David and Saul found themselves with few options. And if we didn’t have the results in the Bible, we may say these two men did the exact same thing.

It is so important to remember words are only words if they don’t come from the heart. God sees the heart.