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David: A man after God's Heart or Serial Liar?

…I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will. Acts 13:22b

God gives us a shining review in the New Testament that describes the very famous King David of Israel. It is a big compliment, and many of us would like to have the same thing said about ourselves by anyone - especially God.

But in the Old Testament Book of 1 Samuel, we learn something about this very same David that we wouldn’t expect after reading this verse in Acts. The Book of 1 Samuel is a biography of how David, a simple shepherd boy, became the very famous king of Israel.

As we read through David's origin story, we start to notice that David has begun to develop a pattern of lying to save his skin. This is never a good thing. But God knows that those who have a heart for Him are all a work in progress. Sometimes spiritual growth can only come from learning from our failures.

The first lie from David that we learn about is when he asks his very dear friend Jonathan (who was the son of King Saul) to lie to his own father, the king. Unfortunately Jonathan agrees. The king responds to this lie by actually trying to kill Jonathan. It makes Saul so enraged that he throws a spear at his own son! You can find this story in 1 Samuel 20. You can listen to that story in this episode of TBE (The Bible Explained) Podcast.

It's not clear whether Jonathan told David about Saul’s reaction, but it’s obvious by the next chapter that David continued to lie in order to escape from the murderous and enraged King Saul who desperately wanted to kill him. In chapter 22 we read that David lied to the priests of Israel in order to get food and weapons from them. When Saul finds out about this, he kills all but one priest who escaped.

After David got the supplies from the priests, he ran away from Israel and tried to hide in the very city that Goliath was from. You know, the famous giant that David killed…yes that guy’s hometown.

Clearly David wasn’t thinking straight and was in a panic. He was running around like a chicken with his head cut off. And as with any poorly thought-out plan, it fails miserably. The people of Gath, Goliath’s city, recognized him. Uh-oh….David is caught…what to do? I’m sure you can already guess—David lied...again.

This time, David let spit fall out of his mouth as he pretended to be insane. The lie seemed to work because the king of Gath just passed David off as an idiot and let him go. 

Unfortunately, the fact that David seemed to be saved by the lie may have been the very thing that re-enforced the behavior.

God seemed to be silent about these lies, or at least the Bible doesn't tell us God's thoughts on David's lies. So does that mean that God was okay with it? Not quite. We are going to find out that even when God seems to be silent about certain sins, it never means that He is not aware of them. Many times He will allow those sins to catch us in order to humble us in such a way as to make it much easier to turn away from them for good.

That is the great patience and merciful nature of Yahweh, our Almighty God. 

After David finds out that the priests had all been murdered, he admits that they died because of him. 

I am responsible for the death of all the persons of your father’s house. 1 Samuel 22:22

Even though many lives were lost, this was still not enough of a lesson for David to keep him from depending on lies. He went back to the Philistines, the people of Goliath, and continually lied to them.

As unbelievable as it sounds, the Philistines let David live in their land even after he pretended he was crazy. They might have allowed it because he was a great warrior. David convinced them that he was attacking his own people in raids. They believed his lies about attacking his own people and even thought that everyone in Israel hated him. Now he would be a great asset to their own military - after all, he even defeated their own champion, Goliath! David again got away with his lies and later became king. 

Unfortunately, David’s lies did not end after he became king. Instead, the most devastating lie that he would tell comes when life is good and his kingdom is firmly established. (Spoiler alert if you are following along with the Bible Explained Podcast!)

If you have not heard of the infamous affair of David and Bathsheba, you can find it in the book of 2 Samuel starting in chapter 11.

David's worst and most famous lie came after David cheated with the wife of one of his most loyal warriors named Uriah. While Uriah was out fighting for David, his wife becomes impregnated by David. How does the king handle it? He tries to lie to cover it up. The lie eventually leads to the murder of Uriah.

David's lies caused death, and destruction. So how was he still called a “man after God’s own heart?” It was not because he was perfect. And it wasn't because all of the good things he did outweighed his sin. He actually was a good and fair king for the most part - but that can't make up for his deceit that even led to murder.

When David was confronted with his sin, he didn’t deny or excuse it. He confessed it.

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against Yahweh.” Nathan said to David, “Yahweh also has put away your sin. You will not die.” 2 Samuel 12:13

David loved God, and he owned his sin. He didn't gaslight or blame someone else. He accepted the consequences, which were devastating. He wrote a song to God about his sin and asked God to clean him and renew him his heart - Psalm 51.

David had faith in Yahweh, and loved him. David was still a human, and he had a bad, sinful habit. God still used and blessed David - and Jesus Christ was even his descendent!

Just like David, we can become blind to our own sin because we do not get immediate consequences for our sin. We go on in our relationship with our Savior and believe that all is well. That is why the stories of people who truly love God are written for us. David’s stories are there to help us learn from his mistakes.

Here's some takeaways from David's backstory:


Even the "most upstanding" people who want to live for God can get caught up in sin if they do not nip it in the bud.

That is why there are no such things as “little white lies” or “innocent gossip” or “taking little things that don’t really matter” or “innocent flirting with a married person” or whatever other sin we may struggle with.

He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. Luke 16:10


We should never pass off sin as harmless, even if no one seems to notice!


It's never too late to turn around no matter how far we have fallen!

Have you already gotten caught up in sin or passed it off as harmless? Maybe you are feeling the weight of the consequences - but there is still hope! It is never too late to turn around no matter how far we have fallen.

God full of mercy. God forgave David and called him a man who was after God's heart. And that lesson is there for us, too. If we confess it and ask God to help us to turn away from it immediately, we not only receive forgiveness but discipline in correct behavior. 

Tear your heart and not your garments, and turn to Yahweh, your God; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:13

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