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After a brief study, it appears that translators are unsure how to translate this phrase. The NET bible translation notes say "Heb 'according to his heart.' The idiomatic expression means to be like-minded with another, as its use in 1 Sam 14:7 indicates." But then, ironically, it translates it as "loyalty" in the text? Well, one can be loyal to someone, and not be like that person at the same time. Joab was loyal to David doesn't mean Joab was anything like David in character.

So does it mean someone who has a similar heart as God's, or someone who is simply loyal to God, or someone who is pleasing to God, or somethings else? Though those all tangentially relate, they are fairly divergent translations and I'm getting suspicious that because it is idiomatic, we've lost the precise meaning. What do you think?

a man who is dear to his heart. (1 Sam. 13:14 NIRV)

a man who is loyal to him (1 Sam. 13:14 NET)

a man who is pleasing to him in every way (1 Sam. 13:14 BBE)

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The Hebrew term used there is "ish kilvavo". Ish means man The "Ki" at the front is added to the word such as Kmo, or like, or similar. Lvavo is speaking of the "Lev" or heart. the "O" sound at the end is adding the masculine non-personal form to lev making it mean "his heart"

Therefore it speaks of a Man like His heart, or a man with a heart similar to His.

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  • That makes sense to me...and you could be right. But it seems translators think the expression is idiomatic and therefore can't be understood by isolating and then combining the individual definitions. Hence translations like "loyalty" and "pleasing" are on the table. Frankly, I don't know enough about translation method to know how one would figure out the meaning of an ancient idiom. Perhaps someone can help us on this point.
    – Joseph O.
    Dec 17 '18 at 17:52

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