Even if you’ve never darkened the door of a Sunday school class in your life, you will have grown up with a culturally-formed understanding of the biblical allusion to David and Goliath; every kid with a slingshot in his back pocket is confident he can slay any foe. In sports, politics, or whenever the little guy, against all odds, takes on a powerful opponent, David and Goliath is the literary metaphor of choice, and evidence of how the Bible has quietly shaped our culture and informed our thinking.
But there is much more to David than the heroic tale of a boy with a pocketful of smooth stones and a good arm. Even more than the rags to riches, Horatio Alger story of a runt-of-the-litter shepherd who became Israel’s greatest and most revered ruler.
In A Heart Like His: Intimate reflections on the life of David, author and Bible teacher Beth Moore walks us through a deeply moving examination of David’s remarkable life. Here was a man who knew the lowest lows of betrayal, grief, doubt and personal failure, any of which might have destroyed him. Yet if anything these setbacks pushed him to pursue God more zealously and gave him a reputation as a faithful, powerful but humble servant of the God of Israel.
The Bible doesn’t airbrush out the imperfections in its portrait of David. He is not a larger-than-life Jewish superhero but a flawed and ordinary man chosen by God to lead. He screwed up, big time, but he knew God’s heart, and he lived day by day in the richness of God’s grace.
Anyone who walks in evangelical circles knows Beth Moore’s reputation as a gifted teacher of the Word. Through her Living Proof Ministries, Beth Moore has had a significant ministry to women through books and seminars for nearly 20 years. Yet, I find A Heart Like His to be a book that has significant things to say to men as well, in part because the Bible lays out David’s life with such honesty. There is much here that we can each identify with.
We see David as a young man trying to earn the respect of the adults in his life, and later, called upon to assume a man-sized role before anyone thought he was ready. We see him waiting, serving and respectfully enduring the abuse of a cruel King. We see him lead men into battle, and later, when praise and power has gone to his head, abusing the trust and authority he had been given. There is a lot to be learned from David, and Beth Moore takes her time, encouraging her readers to make application from David’s life to our own.
If you’ve never studied the life of David systematically, A Heart Like His is a book I would highly recommend. As I followed Moore’s lead, I found many ways in which David and I are alike. We all struggle to live uncompromisingly before God in a world where compromise is de rigueur. We live in an age where we are expected to push faith into a private corner of our lives, and in David we see some of the terrible consequences of faith lived out selectively and halfheartedly. But we also see what a man or woman can become when we submit our lives and hearts to God without holding back.
In A Heart Like His, Beth Moore challenges us to measure ourselves against a man whom God loved and honored, a man who, despite his many failings, lived out his life in the constant pursuit of a deeper relationship with his Lord.
(Illustration note: David has been the subject of a great many sculptures and paintings. One of my favorites is this one by Caravaggio from 1606, showing David returning to Saul’s forces with the head of Goliath. You see in this painting David’s youth, but also the strength and confidence that would make him into a great warrior and leader of men.)
That’s a good recommendation. It hit me just as I am nearing the end of Henry Cloud’s “Changes That Heal,” and it turns out to be a very good case in point of what Cloud is talking about. The really beautiful part of David’s life for me is the fact that he responded honestly and humbly to God’s correction, neither getting angry nor self-destructing, but getting on with being who he was and becoming who he was to be. David accepted God’s grace and love for him even while suffering the earthly consequences of his sin — a very adult thing to do. Hence, Psalm 32. (That word “adult:” what a shame to see it applied as it commonly is, to resources for children in grown-up bodies.) I had not read any Beth Moore, so I’ll look into this book. Actually, I hadn’t even heard of Henry Cloud, but my son recommended him to me, and I’m glad I did.