The Heart Of YHWH And His Chosen One In 1 Samuel 13:14 -- By: Jason S. Derouchie

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 24:4 (NA 2014)
Article: The Heart Of YHWH And His Chosen One In 1 Samuel 13:14
Author: Jason S. Derouchie

The Heart Of YHWH And His Chosen One In 1 Samuel 13:14

Jason S. Derouchie

Bethlehem College And Seminary

This article considers the meaning of the prepositional phrase כלבבו, “like/according to his heart,” in 1 Sam 13:14. By assessing syntactic and semantic parallels, comparative ANE data, and the deuteronomic context of 1-2 Samuel, the study argues that the prepositional idiom is best rendered adverbially and understood to clarify the norm or standard by which YHWH sought a king to replace Saul––he did so according to his own will. This being established, the paper then explores whether God’s showing discretion and seeking one man in contrast to others necessitates that there was something about the king-elect that matched the royal image he had in mind. Specifically, while כלבבו should be read adverbially, the resulting meaning in 1 Sam 13:14 may in fact align with both the numerous texts that emphasize David’s special divine election in contrast to Saul and the many passages that stress David’s greater like-mindedness to YHWH when compared to Saul.

Key Words: King, election, Saul, David, heart, obedience, man after God’s heart

Author’s Note: This essay is dedicated to my mentor and friend Dr. Gary D. Pratico, who first taught me to consider the difference between Hebrew adjectival and adverbial prepositional phrases and who displayed for me during my four years as his teaching and research fellow at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary what it means to be a man who treasures God and his Word.


A key and familiar clause in 1 Sam 13:14 reads בקש יהוה לו איש כלבבו. In a recent JBL article, Benjamin J. M. Johnson provided a strong literary-­contextual defense for the traditional view that these words explicitly describe “something about the heart of YHWH’s chosen agent” who will replace Saul––“David is ‘a man after [YHWH’s] own heart.’”1 Whether pointing to the king-elect’s inward makeup, motives, or God-dependence

on the one hand2 or his covenant loyalty on the other,3 this view consistently treats (1) the idiomatic prepositional phrase כלבבו, “like/according to his heart,” adjectivally, modifying ...

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