Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” 1 Chronicles 21:8

David had ordered the counting of the fighting men, which indicated his reliance on his resources, rather than on God. Yet, David is the only person described as being a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). What was it about David that was special? He was hardly sinless, having also committed both adultery and murder. In the episode with Bathsheba, David simply said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). There was no rationalization or justification.

Was it because David was good at repenting that he became a man after God’s heart?

David fully acknowledges his sin—and his alone. As well as saying, “I have sinned greatly” and “I have done a very foolish thing.” He also says to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people” (1 Chronicles 21:17).

David also had great faith in God’s mercy saying, “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great” (verse 13). David was right. The Lord called a premature halt to the plague at Araunah’s threshing floor (verse 15).

God’s promise for future restoration is, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15).

Let’s be the kind of shepherds who are good at repenting and have great faith in God’s mercy.