Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 20 2013 - Acts 13:16-41 – A heart to do God’s will

Paul and Barnabas were invited to speak at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (not to be confused with the Antioch in Syria which was their sending church). Paul recounted the story of God's dealings with Israel, as Stephen had done in Jerusalem. Though Paul had colluded in Stephen's death, something of Stephen's message seems to have made a lasting impression on him.

It’s easy to make quick judgments about people based on their immediate response to the good news about Jesus. We need to remember that seeds may have been sown that the Spirit of God can protect and nurture and bring to fruit in due course. Don’t give up praying for those to whom you have spoken of Christ.

Paul emphasises that his namesake and fellow Benjaminite, King Saul, was the king the Israelites had asked for. They had not been content for God to lead them through his prophets; they had wanted a king like the other nations around about them, and in Saul this is exactly what they got. By way of contrast, David was the king raised up by God; God had found in David "a man after my own heart who will do all that I want."

David’s heart is disclosed through his many psalms. He had a clear love for the Lord whom he views as his Shepherd, his rock, his stronghold, his joy, his delight, the ground of his hope and the source of his confidence. He had a deep reverence for God’s word and a desire to govern the Israelites in a way that reflected God’s own government of his people.

Nevertheless, David was only mortal. He died and was buried and that was the end of his story. But God raised up from his descendants the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Though he was put to death and buried, God raised him from the dead and has given him David's throne. He is the one who fulfils all that was spoken by the prophets. Full and free forgiveness of sin is given through him in a way that had not been available before and is not available through anyone else.

Paul emphasises that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem rejected Jesus and delivered him over to be crucified. All of this fulfilled what the prophets had written beforehand. Paul urges his listeners not to join those leaders in fulfilling the words of the prophets. They spoke strong words about those who scoff at the remarkable things that God is going to do.

The phrase I found particularly striking this morning was the description of David as one who will do all that God wants of him. Despite this commendation from God, David failed to be all that he should have been – most notably in the incident with Bathsheba. But this description is entirely true of Jesus, one whose whole delight was to do the Father's will – even though it took him to the cross. Jesus could say that he had fully completed the work that the Father had given him to do.

And this should also be the mark of those who follow him. The heart that God found imperfectly in David, a reflection of his own heart, is seen in all its perfection in Jesus Christ. That should be the heart God finds in us – a heart that beats in tune with the Father and longs only to please him.

Father God, give me the heart you found in David. No, rather, give me the heart of Jesus, David's greater son. Give me a heart devoted to doing your will, no matter the cost. May I delight in pleasing you and completing the work you have given me to do.

Peter Misselbrook