After God’s Own Heart: The Gospel according to David by Mark J. Boda

The future King David is foreshadowed in the ending of the book of Ruth. Thousands of years later, a blind man calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Who is David? Why is this name so important in the Bible and in my life and yours? Find out in today’s book.

Hi, my name is Terence and I’m your host for Reading and Readers, a podcast where I review Christian books for you. Today I review “After God’s Own Heart: The Gospel according to David” by Mark J. Boda. 208 pages, published by P&R Publishing in June 2007. P&R stands for Presbyterian and Reformed. Today’s book is available in Amazon Kindle for USD7.99 and free in Logos.

Yes, it’s free but only for January. By the time this podcast is published, there will only be less than 2 days left in January. And if you did not subscribe to this podcast, you might have missed the free book deal. Oh no! So subscribe to this podcast. You never know, you might just hear about a book that you never considered reading that would convict, refresh, and inspire you in your Christian walk. That is the aim for this podcast.


So coming back to the book. “After God’s Heart” is written by Mark J. Boda, who is the Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Looking at the catalogue of books he has written and edited, I see a commentary on Zechariah from the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series, a commentary on Haggai and Zechariah from the NIV Application Commentary series and another book that stands out is “Return to Me: A Biblical Theology of Repentance” from the New Studies in Biblical Theology. The NSBT is one of my favourite series. According to his biodata in Amazon, Boda has written 12 books and edited 19 collected essays, and you can clearly see a strong emphasis on the Old Testament.

And this is important because today’s book, “After God’s Heart: The Gospel according to David” is not the story of David. It includes the story of David, which we can read in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, these three books covers the life of David, but this book is more than that. Let me list the thirteen chapter in this book and just by reading the title of the first chapter, you will know what to expect from today’s book.

  • Chapter 1: David and Biblical Theology

If you don’t know what is Biblical Theology, just hold on, you will get a sense of it and I will explain soon.

  • Chapter 2: David, Abraham, and Ruth

Consider this, what does David have to do with Abraham and Ruth? Abraham and Ruth in their lifetime didn’t even know of David’s existence. Of course, David is the descendent. But if you were asked to write an essay on the title, “David, Abraham and Ruth” what would you write?

What would you write if you were given the following chapter headings.

  • Chapter 3: David and Anointing
  • Chapter 4: David and Covenant
  • Chapter 5: David and Rule
  • Chapter 6: David and Faith
  • Chapter 7: David and Justice
  • Chapter 8: David and Unity
  • Chapter 9: David and Worship
  • Chapter 10: David and Temple
  • Chapter 11: David and Faithfulness
  • Chapter 12: David and Sin
  • Chapter 13: David and Messiah

You have heard how the chapters are arranged by themes but I want to stress this is Biblical Theology. And how I love it so. Let me explain by saying what this book is not.

The Way Not Taken

Let’s say I was assigned to write an essay on David and Worship. Okay, let me think, David plays the lyre with the sheep and later for the troubled King Saul and in the Psalms, he sings to God. Let me write about how music soothes animals, and psychological or spiritual effect of music on troubled souls, and what I write how the lyrics in the Psalms are so different from the lyrics in modern music today. Everyone loves a good trashing on Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). So three sections, all related to David and Worship, all interesting and relevant today.

That’s not Biblical Theology. Biblical Theology requires us to scour the books of the Bible to determine what each book says about the topic. Does Leviticus talk about how music soothes the animals? Oh dear, when animals are mentioned in Leviticus is not about soothing them but about sacrificing them. And if we move the essay towards a discussion on Contemporary Christian Music, we can, it is possible, but through Biblical Theology, you need to show that this is what this book says, directly or indirectly, but your eyes are looking at the Bible, and not so much with what is wrong with the world today.

Biblical Theology with David

So, let’s try again but let’s invite Professor Mark Boda to write the essay. The title is “David and Worship”. What does he write?

He divides the essay or chapter into five parts.

  • David Brings the Ark into Jerusalem
  • David Initiates a New Phase of Worship
  • Musical Worship
  • Implications
  • For Further Reflection

Boda does not assume the reader is familiar with the story. He explains how David put the Ark on the cart, how Uzzah touched the Ark and died, then David placed the Ark at the home of Obed-Edom. Obed-Edom was blessed, David didn’t wanted the blessing, so he tried again, now doing it the right way, according to the instructions God had given the Levites. David dances on the streets of Jerusalem. Saul’s daughter didn’t like that. And David had choice words to say to her. The background is helpful for those who don’t know the story.

If you are new to the Bible you will like this. The best part is if you are familiar with the story, and even familiar with the entire Bible, Boda has something for you too.

In the second part, he explains, he lists, how David’s worship shows continuity from Moses time. What Moses did in Exodus and Leviticus, David also did in 1 Chronicles.

But Boda also shows how David innovated. He introduced new elements: musical instruments, new sacred objects, new sacred personnel, and new functions to the Levites.

I’ve always been told that our modern worship team are our Levites. But — hey! — it was David who first commissioned them as singers and musicians. And I like this. I like seeing how the Bible tells me things which are in plain sight.

When God instructed Moses, He never said anything about music for the sacrifices. How to sacrifice, what to sacrifice, when to sacrifice, yes, but never the soundtrack. So David innovated. Doesn’t this give us license to innovate?

Boda writes:

the breadth of musical media in David’s new phase of worship challenges us to remain open to new ways of worshiping God. For some it is easy to equate praise with the use of organ, piano, and choir, to identify true worship with these modes. For others, however, it is just as easy to equate worship with the use of drums, guitars, and worship teams and to see no value in any other forms of worship. David’s new phase of worship certainly stretched his community to adopt new modes of worship, but underlying all of this there was strong evidence of joy (1 Chron. 15:16, 25), showing a people who fully embraced the new forms.

Christians have strong opinions of worship. And the worship debate is as old as time. So it’s nice to read a new argument drawn from Scripture.

I also note that this is a P&R book, a Presbyterian & Reformed publishing house. You would think they are church-organs-only or Psalms-only type of people. It is books like this that show the Biblical basis to decide whether drums are in or out.

I Got A Question For You

The last part of the chapter is the Further Reflection. Two to three questions, sometimes a bit more, to spur some thought. I like the open-ended nature of the questions. A small group could read this book and come together to discuss the answers to the questions.

Or, you can read this book on your own, come across an interesting question, ponder on it, and bring it up in your next conversation with a fellow brother or sister in Christ. You could ask them, “What do you think about this?”

Let me read a portion of Question 3 from the worship chapter. It’s a long question, I’ll just read the second half of it:

It is interesting that although the majority of psalms in the Psalter are psalms of Disorientation (lament), most Christians find they rarely express their heart to God using the language that is found in the laments, that is, asking God questions like “why?” or “how long?” Try to broaden the ways in which you speak to God, even in some time alone with God today. If you are a worship leader in a church, reflect on the ways in which you can incorporate the laments into the worship of your church in the coming month.

The way the question is phrased shapes the Christian way of life. He nudges us for time alone. He nudges the worship leader to include the laments. You have read the chapter, now do it. You know what the Bible says, now do it.

Even the ‘comprehension’ questions are tough! Question 4 in Chapter 2 goes like this:

I once heard a sermon that contrasted Boaz and the kinsman-redeemer as the contrast between Christ and the law. What is wrong with the logic of this sermon?

If you don’t even know how to begin to answer this question, that’s what the chapter, what the book, is for.

Past and Future King

Boda doesn’t just bring us to the past to the times of Abraham, Moses and Ruth: when a Davidic Kingdom then would be a dream too good to be true.

Boda also brings us to the future: when the great kings of Israel and Judah are but near-forgotten memories, as enemy nations occupy the land, the temple, the throne that God said would never end. In chapter 13, Boda blitzes through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Haggai and Zechariah, showing us how David lives on in those books, ultimately in Jesus Christ.

Boda is a Professor of Old Testament. His expertise and love for the subject shows in this book. “After God’s Heart: The Gospel according to David” goes beyond the lifespan of David, beyond his 70 years in this life.

As Boda tells the story of David through the millennia, it only makes us grow in awe at the wonderful Providence of God, the God above all History. On a more practical level, this book helps us to make sense of the frequent reference to David, allusions in Abraham, Moses and Ruth, generations before he was born all the way to unbelievable prophecies that King David will rise again.

The Gospel According to the Old Testament Series

When I finished the book, I realised that there is something missing in the book. If the intent was to do total Biblical Theology with David, then the New Testament was peculiarly left out.

For example, there is no exposition of Blind Bartimaeus calling, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Nor is there any elaboration on the most cited Psalm in the New Testament, which is “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

I chose my words carefully. I said there was no exposition, no elaboration. There was Scripture reference, and a slight mention. But these New Testament verses are so rich especially in the fulfilment of the Davidic prophecies that I was surprised.

Was Boda, the Old Testament professor sticking to his lane? Or was he keeping it in the Old Testament to make the scope manageable, otherwise we would have double the page count?

I sought to answer the question by reading the preface and introduction and I saw my mistake. I skipped the series preface because the series prefaces is always kind of the same, right? Well, no.

This book belongs to the series titled, “The Gospel According to the Old Testament”. That’s the name of the series.

And the series aims to:

  1. to lay out the pervasiveness of the revelation of Christ in the Old Testament
  2. to promote a Christ-centered reading of the Old
  3. to encourage Christ-centered preaching and teaching from the Old Testament

So I’ll just be quiet now and take this podcast as a reminder myself to always read the preface first.

My rushed reading, the fact that I sensed the Old Testament was overwhelming the New Testament showed that Boda achieved the aims of the series.


In conclusion, “After God’s Heart: The Gospel according to David” is a good introduction to Biblical Theology. If you have ever wondered what is the big deal about King David, why do Christians from all around the world bother about a long-dead king in a faraway land? This book answers that question using history, law, songs and prophecy, organised through themes with straightforward application and thought-provoking reflection questions.

If you will ever do a study on David, and you should, because David is all over the Bible, then this is, for you and your small group, a must-have resource.

This is a Reading and Readers Review of “After God’s Own Heart: The Gospel according to David” by Mark J. Boda. 208 pages, published by P&R Publishing in June 2007. Today’s book is available in Amazon Kindle for USD7.99 and free in Logos in January. And I know there is less than 2 days of January left, so what are you waiting for?

And if you like to hear monthly reviews of free Christian books, subscribe and stay tuned for February’s free book, coming soon. Bye bye.

Book List

  • “After God’s Own Heart: The Gospel according to David” by Mark J. Boda. Amazon. Logos.