Billy Graham once said, “The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.” It’s hard to argue. Only when we reach out to our fellow man can we truly begin to impact the world.
King David was a great leader, indeed a “man after God’s own heart.” But he still had his periods of weakness. One example we have discussed was his poor judgment with Bathsheba and Uriah. David’s deceitful actions mirrored a man thinking only of himself. Now he had to pay the price.
Enter the prophet Nathan.
Earlier in 2 Samuel, we see Nathan boldly voicing his approval of David’s plans (2 Sam 7:3 – Nathan says to the King, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you”). As I mentioned last Sunday, it was the task of the prophet to encourage the King to fulfill his obligations, and to rebuke him in God’s name if he failed to do so.
It was time for Nathan to rebuke the King. Keep in mind this wasn’t Nathan’s idea. He was simply following God’s instructions. It took a brave – and likely reluctant – man to speak with sharp disapproval and criticism toward the King. Certainly David saw Nathan coming toward him, and could have had his prophet executed right then and there.
Nathan was commissioned to confront David. By God. Thus he really didn’t have a choice. What would David do to him? How would the King react? Would Nathan be thrown into a cistern without water (as Jeremiah was nearly 400 years later)?
Fortunately for Nathan, David was a man of character. He took full responsibility that day, and understood Nathan was speaking on God’s behalf. David’s pronouncement that “I have sinned against the LORD” was directed toward his prophet, who assured David that “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” Nathan also explained that David would endure hardship as a consequence, but the ultimate penalty was removed.
Don’t we all need a Nathan in our lives? Someone to keep us on the right path when we have dramatically veered off? Someone to be brutally honest with us when we truly need to hear it? Someone to follow God’s words, even if it means harsh consequences for us?
Nathan was reluctant to approach David that day. But in the end, both Nathan and David benefitted from the prophet’s willingness to speak up.
Be strong. Be courageous. Do not be afraid!
In His Name,