Principles vs. Precepts

David was now afraid of the LORD, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of the LORD back into my care?” So David decided not to move the Ark of the LORD into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. The Ark of the LORD remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and his entire household. (2 Samuel 6:9–11)

What an epitaph! Not, "I found David to be a great warrior," or, "I found David to be a faithful shepherd," or, "I found David to be a brilliant king"—none of those things. It says, "I found David to care about the things I care about. He's a man whose heart beats in sync with Mine. When I look to the right, David looks to the right. When I look to the left, David looks to the left. And when I say, 'I care about that,' David says, 'I care about that too.' " As we've already seen, that's what it means to be a person after God's heart.

Some of us look upon life as, "Well, you win some, you lose some. You just pull it off the best you can. Nobody's perfect." Others say, "If God says it, l want to do it." Those are the ones who are "after God's heart."

Those in the first group spend a lot of time doing their own thing—a lot of time moaning and complaining and later recovering from journeys that are far from His plan and will. But the others don't get very far at all before they start taking account of where they are. They keep short accounts. They come back in line quickly because they're "after His heart." To those people, nothing in their relationship with God is considered insignificant. Those who live most of their lives in the second category are rare. There are not a great number of people whose hearts are hot after God, who obey God's precepts and honor His principles, regardless. But David was like that.

When you drive down the road and you see the sign, "Speed Limit 35 Miles an Hour," that's a precept; there's no give or take. If the sign reads, "Drive Carefully," that's a principle.

When it comes to the spiritual life, those who are after God in their hearts care as much about the principles as they do about the precepts. And when they come across a precept that is clearly delineated, they say, "As I look at my life, I see where it's not like that precept. I need to bring my life in line with it." And they do just that. That's what David did, according to 2 Samuel, chapter 6 . . . a classic example of why he was "a man after God's heart."

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Taken from Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles Swindoll. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll. Used by permission of HarperCollins Christian Publishing.