A Heart After God
Carl H. Stevens Jr. was pastor of Greater Grace World Outreach located in Baltimore, Maryland.
Pastor Stevens was also chancellor of Maryland Bible College & Seminary and host of the international Christian radio program “The Grace Hour.” This booklet was created from a message preached by Pastor Stevens.
Pastor Stevens can be seen weekly on cable television stations throughout the United States. Call us for information regarding programming in your area.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version. Italics for emphasis are ours.
BALTIMORE, MD 21206
Printed in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
Copyright © 2006
From a message preached on January 24, 1988 Tape #3881
Grace Publications is a ministry of Greater Grace World Outreach, Inc.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A POINT OF REFERENCE AND A FRAME OF REFERENCE
Chapter 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A STONE MADE SMOOTH BY LIVING WATERS
Chapter 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
HONOR GOD’S WORD
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“And when he had removed him, he raised
up unto them David to be their king; to whom
also he gave testimony, and said, I have found
David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own
heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22).
It is important for me to know that the knowledge I have
of God becomes God’s life in me. The patience that I
develop through following God becomes contentment for
my life. The truth that I understand turns into love, grace,
and mercy through the indwelling Spirit. Then, we have
fellowship with God because of an inward revival that makes
us meek. Meekness that comes from a revival inwardly
makes us gentle outwardly. With gentleness comes
kindness that always produces a spirit of faith-rest.
The Cross of Calvary always brings in a Christ-like attitude.
A heart that is up-to-date with God is a
heart that has a fresh response to God.
I want to show you from the Bible how one
man practiced a life of revival. In His foreknowledge,
God saw this man and decided that
he would be the man, thirty years before this
man was born. In 1 Samuel 13, the prophet
Samuel said to Saul, “But now thy kingdom
shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a
man after his own heart, and the LORD hath
commanded him to be captain over his people,
because thou hast not kept that which the LORD
commanded thee” (1 Samuel 13:14). He was referring
God kept looking for a man. What was the
qualification God was looking for? He was looking
for a man who had a heart after Him.
He could have found Samuel who was a
beautiful man of God. He could have chosen
Jesse, the father of David, whose name indicates
“living water of the Almighty God.” He could
have chosen Saul also, and He did choose him
to be king, but He did not choose Saul as the
man after His own heart. He could have selected
Abner, the commander-in-chief of the army, but
He didn’t. God selected a teenager, a young man
who remained committed to caring for his father’s
You know, many people have this idea that
teenagers are not supposed to be spiritual, that
they don’t know what they want to do with
their life. But God chose a teenager. Why did He
choose this teenager? You will find out in these
pages. Read on and you will see that this
teenager knew how to fellowship with God. He
knew how to get to know God. He knew how to
be trained by God, how to trust God—how to go
A POINT OF REFERENCE AND A FRAME OF REFERENCE
What is a man who is after God’s own heart?
First of all, the word “heart” refers to a point of
reference and a frame of reference. A man after
God’s heart is a man who is after God’s point of
reference, which is salvation through the Cross.
This is God’s frame of reference, which is governmental
doctrine through grace. David was a man after God with his point of
reference and with his frame of reference. When
something happened, he had both a point of reference
and a frame of reference, and he got to know God’s heart.
A man after God’s own heart must learn to
know what God’s heart is—to know God’s point
of reference all the time and to understand
God’s frame of reference for every subject and
for every detail of life. We’ve got to know God’s
heart if we’re going to go after God’s heart. So
David, at a very young age, got to know God’s
point of reference and God’s frame of reference.
If a man is after God’s own heart, he has to
agree with God’s heart. David agreed with
God’s heart. If a man is after God’s own heart,
he must have a heart like God, and he must fulfill
all of God’s will. According to the Bible, David was that man.
God Makes His Choice
Many years before David was born, God
was searching for a man after His own heart.
Why didn’t He choose Abner, the commanderin-
chief, or Samuel, the prophet? I do not know.
But He was searching for a man after His own
One day, the Philistines came against the
army of Israel, boasting and bragging. The ninefoot
giant Goliath was taunting the army of Israel,
and he had the feeling that a victory was
just around the corner. The name “Goliath”
means “alienation from God; banishment; exile
because of God’s wrath.” The Philistine would
be alienated from God and banished from God’s
sight because of God’s wrath over his rebellious
indifference. David’s three brothers were with Saul at the
battle site, but David was still at home, caring
for the sheep. He was a teenager in training for a
great task ahead. This is a beautiful picture. Often, teenagers
do not realize that of all the men, women,
preachers, and famous men around them, they
can be chosen as people after God’s heart. Here
was a little boy back home, taking care of the
sheep, but he was fellowshipping with God. He
was getting to know God’s heart. When God
told him how to rescue the lamb from the mouth
of the bear and from the mouth of the lion, he
agreed with God on how to do it. When God
told him to humble himself, he agreed with
God. As a teenager and as a young man, he was
learning how to agree with God.
David was not even the most desired one of
his family. His three elder brothers did not particularly
respect him because of his humility and
his favor with God. This young man accepted
his training in the field with the sheep.
The Boy Beats the Giant
One day, David was told by his father to
take food to his brothers who were on the front
lines where Goliath was. This young man, who
was seemingly left behind, revealed the results
of the training program of honoring God’s heart.
All would see that David had developed into a
man whose knowledge became filled with compassion;
whose faith became courageous and bold; whose truth
turned into love, mercy, and grace; whose point of
reference and frame of reference, no matter what
would happen in his life, was like Christ.
As he arrived on the scene, the Philistine
was screaming and hollering. Saul was afraid.
The soldiers were afraid. Then David said, “One
day I rescued a lamb from a bear and from a lion
as well, and I did smite the beard of the raging
animal. Just as God delivered that lion and that
bear into my hand, so He will deliver this Philistine.”
He had courage, he was bold, and he was
faithful to the Word of God. David did not fear
as Saul feared. His trust was solely in God. He
was not occupied with his enemies. His elder
brothers mocked him. They told him that he was
arrogant and proud and that he should go home
and take care of the sheep. But the situation was
desperate. No one else was there to do the job.
The three brothers did not want him to do it, but
they couldn’t do it. They didn’t have the
There is always someone who is willing to
take on the enemies of this world. Somewhere
there is a man after God’s heart. Reading this
very booklet, there are special men and special
women who are willing to take on the
Philistines of the world. They are willing to let
God train them, and they are willing to be occupied
David tried on Saul’s armor, but he said, “I
have not proved it. The armor I want to use is
armor I have already proven.”
When the Word of God is the means of our
obedience, then our testing ground is with the
Word. David’s testing ground was the Word. He
was tested by the Word, and he proved the Word.
The Philistine was mocking him and confronting
him with all kinds of statements, but David simply
said, “God will deliver you into our hands, for the
battle is the Lord’s.”
God says the battle is His, and David agreed
with Him. God was David’s point of reference
for victory, and the doctrine of victory was his
frame of reference. He said, “The Lord will deliver
you into our hands.” How could David, a teenager,
be so victorious? Just one way. He had a heart after God.
A STONE MADE SMOOTH BY LIVING WATERS
God knew David’s life before He chose him.
He knew everything about David before the
foundation of the world. He chose David, and
He didn’t make a mistake. Nothing David ever
did was a surprise to God. He chose him because
He knew He had a man after His heart.
David took a little stone. The streams of the
living water had shaped that stone and fashioned
it over the years, making it smooth. He
had five stones in all, but he took this smooth little
stone, put it in his slingshot, and said to the
giant, “I come against you in the name of God.”
He was a teenager going up against the
world in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He
went against all the mocking voices and all the
temptations that came into their path. Here was
a teenager representing God’s heart and representing
the army and the nation of Israel. Here
was a teenager who talked with his God in the
wilderness, who had been with his God.
The battle was going on in the valley of Elah,
and it was a valley. It was a valley where Saul
didn’t have any strength. But you know what
“Elah” means? It means “a place of derived strength.”
Saul didn’t have any strength. David’s three
elder brothers didn’t have any strength. The
army of Israel didn’t have any strength. Judah
had been invaded. Israel was being terribly
threatened and was often humiliated by the
Philistine army. In this valley, threatened by Goliath,
they didn’t have any strength.
Here was an enemy upon whom was the
wrath of God because Goliath was alienated
from God. He was a man who would be banished
from God’s sight. If anyone had God’s
heart, then this enemy would be placed in exile,
banished, and destroyed because God said he
was His enemy. But in this valley of Elah, Saul
and his soldiers didn’t have any strength.
A problem for many people today is that
they lack strength in the valleys. They fear the
valleys. There is no job, no proper apartment,
and no security in sight. Business is going
poorly. They get discouraged after two months
when God might want to train them for forty
years. You’d think that for their whole life they
were in poverty, as some have been. They don’t
have a happy day when they are in a trial. It is a
training period, but they are not happy. It is the
trial of their faith.
We face the job that we have to do with multitudes
of enemies in our midst: carnality, fear,
insecurity, rebellion, pride, self-righteousness,
and temporal security. We live in the midst of
these enemies, but greater is He that is in us than
he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
First John 5:4 says that this is the victory that
overcomes all the world system, even our faith
in our God. David said, “I’m not afraid. This valley
is a valley of strength. I’m not afraid. My God is a God
of the valleys.” The Assyrians found that out in
1 Kings 20:27-28. They mocked Israel and said: “God is
the God of the hills, but He is not the God of the
valleys.” God said, “I’ll show them that I am the
God of the valleys.”
Some of you don’t treat the people you live
with like God would. You don’t have God’s
heart. You’re not after God’s heart. You don’t
love your neighbor as yourself. You’re not a
good neighbor, living in your home. You’re not a
neighbor as a husband. You’re not a neighbor as
a wife. You’re not a neighbor as a friend. You are
indifferent. You ought to be ashamed, and in humility
you ought to repent. You don’t understand
The valley is to reveal that God is the God of
the valleys—that Jesus Christ gives victory, life,
and power in any valley situation. He converts
the knowledge into life. He takes the truth and
turns it into love, mercy, and grace. He takes patience
and turns it into contentment. He takes
kindness and turns it into meekness.
David took the stone. It speaks of the Chief
Cornerstone of 1 Peter 2:6 and Isaiah 28:16. The
five stones speak of grace, and here was God’s
grace with the Chief Cornerstone being hurled
at the enemy. The enemy fell to the ground, and
David ran over with his sword and cut off his
head. The head that was mocking David was
now dissembled. The Philistines were running,
and the Israelites went after them. They were a
foe defeated. The enemy’s head was cut off.
The Enemy is Defeated
Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and resurrected.
He ascended through the atmosphere of demons
and is now in heaven seated at God’s right hand
as the God-Man, the glorified Man,
the One who defeated the enemy.
Some of you act as if life is so difficult. Don’t
you know we have a defeated foe? Don’t you
know the devil’s head has been cut off? Don’t
you know that everything he says is a lie? He
has convinced you that you have to be sick the
rest of your life, and that becomes an escape
mechanism so you won’t have to be responsible,
as other people. “Remember, I’ve been sick for
twenty-five years. I can’t go out today. I can’t be
responsible because my stomach aches.” The
point is that sickness can be manufactured as a
way of escape so you don’t have to work.
The Christian who has God’s frame of reference
and point of reference—Calvary and resurrection
and ascension—is chasing a defeated
foe. The devil is defeated.
HONOR GOD’S WORD
David arose in the darkness and then he
went and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe. Afterward,
David’s heart smote him, because he had
cut off Saul’s skirt.
“And he said to his men, The LORD forbid
that I should do this thing unto my master, the
LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand
against him, seeing he is the anointed of the
LORD” (1 Samuel 24:6).
David revealed what happens when a man
has a heart after God. Saul was very fearful. No
longer was he fearful of the Philistines, but he
was jealous of David. David had showed
courage that he didn’t have. David had showed
him faith in God and God’s favor. Saul didn’t
have it. David showed him how he was used to
be a deliverer, and Saul didn’t have it. So, Saul
sought to kill him.
Now, David had an opportunity to get rid of
Saul, but he would not make a move that was
not according to God’s heart. First of all, he
knew that Samuel had anointed Saul to be king.
David’s life was a life of revival because he
agreed with what God’s Word said. He failed
momentarily, but he adjusted to what God’s
Word said. Sin, as we will discover, is not the
issue with God. David’s life ended with the
Holy Spirit writing that God didn’t make any
mistakes in choosing David.
David checked his men with the words in
1 Samuel 24:6 and did not let them rise against
Saul. So, Saul rose up and left the cave and went
out of the way, and then David went out of the
cave and called to him saying, “Saul, my lord,
the king.” When Saul looked behind him, David
bowed with his face to the earth, and he humbled
In verse 12, David said, “The LORD judge between
me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of
thee; but mine hand shall not be upon thee.”
This was a man after God’s heart. First, he
recognized that Saul was God’s anointed. Second,
he understood that God does the judging,
so he couldn’t touch Saul who was trying to kill
him. Third, he humbled himself before Saul and
submitted to him when Saul was trying to take
his life. He bowed to the earth in absolute humility.
A Heart of Humility
Why was David so humble? Why did David
treat a murderer who had murder in his heart
like that? There isn’t one in a million on this
planet today who even knows this kind of humility,
not one in a million. I don’t think there is
one in twenty million who would practice this
David said, “The Lord judge between me
and thee. I will not stretch forth mine hand to
touch thee. You are the Lord’s.”
In 1 Samuel 26, the same thing happened
again, and they found Saul and his guards sleeping.
David’s men wanted to strike Saul dead
right there, and again David stopped them.
David took the spear and the bottle of water that
sat beside Saul’s head, and they got away.
In verse 19, David called to the king. “Now
therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear
the words of his servant. If the Lord have stirred
you up against me, let him accept an offering:
but if they be the children of men, cursed be
they before the LORD; for they have driven me
out this day from abiding in the inheritance of
the LORD… .”
Saul said, “I have sinned. I have sinned. I
will do thee no more harm, because my life was
precious in your eyes today. I played the fool
and have erred exceedingly.”
Then David offered back his spear and said,
“I would not stretch forth my hand against the
David’s humility and heartbeat humbled
Saul and changed Saul emotionally. Saul was
touched by God’s heart through David—temporarily,
to be sure, but he was touched. For the
second time, Saul was chasing him and trying to
take his life. Once again, David humbled himself
and would not touch Saul in any way,
shape, or manner. Why? His point of reference,
in principle, was Calvary. His frame of reference
was God’s mercy, God’s love, and God’s grace.
God is the Judge. God is the One who makes the
final decision. God is the One who implements
the plan, and David would not go against the
heart of God.
Mercy Makes A Difference
The problem with the Church today is that it
knows nothing about revival in mercy. Twentysix
times in Psalm 136, David wrote, “His mercy
endures forever.” David gave Saul mercy. He
gave Saul unconditional love. He gave Saul
godly patience. He was longsuffering. He let
God be the Judge. He would not take anything
into his own hands. He returned good for evil
because he had a heart after God. That’s revival.
As the story continues, David fell into deep
sin. You say, “Does he have a heart after God
now?” He fell into deep sin, and he did not have
fellowship with God for a year. He had Uriah
killed and he took Bathsheba to be his wife. He
was silent. He was subdued. He covered up his guilt.
It would seem that his life for God was over.
He was a murderer and an adulterer. It would
seem that God would just let him go to the synagogue
but not serve anymore. Not so.
David understood something magnificent.
God gave him a tremendous revelation (Psalm 32:1-2)
that Paul reiterated in Romans 4:6-8,
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness
of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness
without works, saying, Blessed are
they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose
sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the
Lord will not impute sin.”
David knew and understood God’s heart
about sin. He understood that forgiveness forgets.
He understood that grace followed him to
the grave. He understood that mercy endures
forever, and it followed him until he went home
to be with God. He understood God’s point of
reference and God’s frame of reference. He understood
that God would use him, though he
had done the one sin that was so serious—
killing Uriah—because it took away Uriah’s
right to choose before his God in divine institution
number one, free volition.
Was David’s life over? No. He had a heart
after God. He agreed with God about forgiveness.
So, he repents in Psalm 51, the great psalm
of repentance. In Psalm 51:4, he said, “Against
thee, thee only, have I sinned.”
That is what David understood about Saul.
He gave Saul mercy. He let Saul answer to God.
Now David was going to answer to God. That
was his frame of reference. He was not bothered
by people. He was not bothered with having
rapport with others. He was not bothered by
what the church thought. He said, “Against
thee, thee only, have I sinned.” He had a heart
after God. He had God’s doctrine on grace,
God’s doctrine on forgiveness, and God’s doctrine
on mercy. In the midst of that terrible sin,
God looked down and said, “David still has My
heart. He is after Me.”
Oh yes, he failed. Yes, he was chastised. Yes,
he failed God miserably. Yes, he did wrong, and
yes, he was penalized, but he had a heart that
had God’s frame of reference for his sin and
God’s point of reference for his recovery.
David’s pattern of repentance for his sin was to
name it, forsake it, come back, and continue to
Agree with God and Get Right
David understood God’s heart. He didn’t listen
to men. He didn’t listen to theologians. He
didn’t listen to this one and that one. He knew
that God couldn’t remember his sin. He knew
that God had paid for his sin, and he knew that
God had judged his sin. All God wanted him to
do was admit it, confess it, get it behind him,
and go on in the plan of fulfilling His will.
David had a heart after God. He was out to
do one thing: fulfill God’s will. Whatever would
come up in his life, he would agree with doctrine.
He would agree with the Word of God. He
would agree with Calvary as the point of reference.
Whatever happened, he would be patient,
longsuffering, and gracious. If he failed, as he
did, his point of reference would be Calvary and
restoration. The same ministry he gave others,
he would then receive from God.
I want you to go all the way with Christ. Go
after God with all your heart. Get to know Jesus
Christ. Pray to Him and get to understand what
is on God’s heart. You’ve got to know what it is.
Don’t be caught up with people; be caught up
with God. Don’t be caught up with your feelings;
instead be caught up with the Word. Don’t
be caught up with knowledge unless it’s transferred
into life. If you need to get patience, let it
be transformed into meekness and contentment.
God guides us with His heartbeat, with His
thoughts, and with His plan.
David never turned aside. David fulfilled all
of God’s will. David was a man after God’s
heart, before he was born and all during his life.
That’s why, throughout my many years of
ministry, I have had a problem communicating
with “modern” Christians. They do not have
Calvary as their point of reference, nor do they
have Finished Work mercy as their frame of reference.
Somehow, they get in between with
“this, that, but, and, if, all.” They take things in
their own hands, and they don’t set God before
their face in revival!
Let me ask you this question. Do you think
I’ve added to the Bible? Do you think I’ve taken
away from the Bible? Do you think I’ve privately
interpreted the Scriptures? Well, I have
not. I could go on with a lot more if I wanted to.
I gave you a New Testament commentary.
Have a heart after God. Have heart like David’s.