“And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man…” 2 Samuel 12:7
Nathan the prophet appears several times in Scripture. Clearly, he was a trusted advisor to King David; seems we might even call him David’s pastor if we wanted to equate his role with us today. He first appears in 1 Kings 12, when David wants to inquire about building a Temple for the Lord. He appears later, in 1 Kings 1 as David was nearing the end of his life when Adonijah was attempting to upset the roral succession and usurp the throne from David’s son Solomon. Nathan was instrumental in foiling that plot.
It seems Nathan was just doing that a good prophet does, and that is going where he is called to go, proclaiming God’s Word the entire way. In our story today, Nathan was called to a different role. While he had seemingly been called to advise the King, or to even cover his back in rough times, today Nathan is going to be called to be brutally honest with David and to rebuke him.
We all know the story I suspect. David had committed his great sin with Bathsheba, murdered her husband and all of the rest. Nathan came to David and told him a story: of a rich man who had taken the dearest possession of a poor man, his little lamb. Once David got his dander up in anger about the man in this story, Nathan quickly pointed out to David that HE was that man. Ouch, right?
There are just a couple of quick thoughts here. First, the question sometimes arises as to why David has not killed himself for his sin; he had committed adultery and murder after all. Didn’t Jewish law demand his death? Well, it certainly did, had his indiscretion been witnessed by two or three. Many probably knew what David had been up to, but nobody really “knew,” as fact. Also, God gave that law to the people to govern themselves; God can do what he wants. But, as Nathan predicted, David certainly did not escape unscathed from the earthly consequences of what he had done.
“Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” 2 Samuel 12:11-14
Things would not go well for David for some time. He would lose his child, his family, almost his Kingdom; the entire world would know why all of this was going on. God simply let the natural consequences of David’s actions to unfold before the world.
Second, I say kudos to Nathan. First, he did what had to be done. That must have been difficult, and taken some courage, to confront David with his actions. It would have been hard even though God had called him to do it; he would not have been the first person to ignore God had he made that choice! We need preachers like that, who are willing to confront issues head-on, even when doing so may put their position and standing at risk. Actually, we just need people in general willing to do that. Also note that even though this must have put some strain between David and Nathan, Nathan never quit having David’s back. The story with Adonijah shows that.
Some kudos to David too in this. Clearly, David didn’t eject Nathan from his court because the prophet confronted him; the story with Adonijah shows that also. In other words, he did not retaliate when Nathan spoke the truth about him. Friends, this is Biblical. We are to forgive and restore, even when difficult things have happened.
Sometimes we have to have hard conversations, yet, we don’t have to let them divide us. We certainly can’t do that, but God can; and, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we can also. If we want to, that is.