After comparing 1 Samuel 13:14 with Acts 13:22, I have often wondered if Acts 13:22 means that Jesse rather than David was a man after God’s own heart.

1 Samuel 13:14

14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. KJV, ©1769

Acts 13:22

22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. KJV, ©1769

To me, the above reads that Jesse was a man after God’s own heart. Does the grammar support that conclusion?

  • I guess then Jesse was also appointed king? How else do you avoid arbitrarily stopping at a different comma in Acts 13:22 -- or reconciling that reading with the fact that the man after God's own heart is the man appointed to rule in 1 Sam 13:14? P.S. Reading the Hebrew, the (single) word for "after his own heart" seems to support several possible interesting translations. Could be a good question on its own. Jan 12, 2019 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


The Greek of Acts 13:22 precludes the possibility. In order for «ἄνδρα κατὰ τὴν καρδίαν μου» (“a man after my own heart”) to refer to «τοῦ Ἰεσσαί» (“of Jesse”), ἄνδρα would need to be declined in the genitive case (i.e., ἀνδρός), as it would be functioning in apposition to the genitive «τοῦ Ἰεσσαί». “A noun annexed to another noun to describe it, and denoting the same person or thing, agrees with it in case. This is called apposition, and the noun thus used is called an appositive.”1

While the noun ἄνδρα is functioning in apposition, it is doing so to Δαβὶδ, which although an indeclinable proper noun, is the direct object of the verb Εὗρον and is assumed to be declined in the accusative case as evidenced by the following definite article τὸν (declined in the accusative case). Therefore, ἄνδρα (“a man”), which is undoubtedly declined in the accusative case, must be in apposition to «Δαβὶδ» (“David”), not «τοῦ Ἰεσσαί» (“of Jesse”), since both «Δαβὶδ τὸν» and «ἄνδρα» agree in case.


1 Goodwin, p. 200, §911. One simple example of such agreement in case is Matt. 2:11: «μετὰ Μαρίας τῆς μητρὸς» (“with Mary, [his] mother”). τῆς μητρὸς is declined in the genitive case and is in apposition to Μαρίας, likewise declined in the genitive case, being governed by the preposition μετὰ.


Goodwin, William Watson. A Greek Grammar. Boston: Ginn, 1895.

  • 2
    +1, because it sounds convincing. (I didn't understand a word of it). Jan 13, 2019 at 0:18
  • 1
    @Constantthin—You’re supposed to say, “It’s Greek to me.” :) Jan 13, 2019 at 0:22
  • 2
    @Constantthin, to translate :) In English, words have a fixed form and meaning comes from word order. "The dog bit the man" is different from "The man bit the dog." In Greek, words have different endings to indicate meaning. In the Acts example the English is ambiguous but not the Greek. if Luke wanted to connect "Jesse" and "a man", "man" would have required a different ending. (cf "John carried her case." Grammatically, if the case belonged to John we would expect "John carried his case." The word "her" tells us it's not John's.) Jan 13, 2019 at 0:54
  • 1
    Very informative and concisely expressed. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 13, 2019 at 4:49
  • We have the same in English. You would never say, for example, "Me eaten me dog". You would say, "I ate my dog". By examining the way the words are declined (IE: "I" vs "me") when they are properly declined we know who is the subject (the one doing the action) and upon whom the action was done. For example, "was eaten" is a passive verb in English so you know that the action was done TO the dog, not by the dog.
    – Ruminator
    Jan 13, 2019 at 15:43

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