Principles vs. Precepts

1 Samuel 13:14; 2 Samuel 6:9-15; Acts 13:21-22

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.”

Taken from Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.

Posted in Bible Characters and tagged , , .

Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.