Nathan: Prophet of Righteous Justice
Praise the Lord, and greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I must apologize, although it is Wednesday it is late Wednesday evening, and what happened is time has once again gotten away from me, so without further delay let get right to our study, as mentioned we will start part 2 of our study at C. Beloved King.
C. The Beloved King
With the rejection of Saul, Samuel had anointed David to be the second king of Israel (I Samuel 16:6–13). But it was not until years later, after the deaths of Samuel and Saul, that he was crowned king. During those years, David faithfully served Saul as a brave warrior on the battlefield. With the killing of Goliath, he became a military hero. Israel loved him and sang his praises with song and dance: “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (I Samuel 18:7).
Saul envied David and was afraid of him because the Lord was with him (I Samuel 18:12). But David behaved wisely and all the people loved him (I Samuel 18:15–16). Later, Saul sought to kill him, which only endeared David to the people more.
Upon Saul’s death, David fled to Hebron where he became the king of Judah for seven years and six months (II Samuel 2:11). He was thirty years old. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was made king over Israel. The house of Saul was against the house of David during those years, but David’s house grew increasingly stronger. Then came the tribes of Israel to David in Hebron saying, “We are thy bone and thy flesh” (II Samuel 5:1). They asked David to be their king. There the elders of Israel anointed him as king over Israel (II Samuel 5:3).
As king over all Israel, David continued his military conquest with victories over the Philistines to bring the Ark of God back to Israel. He conquered the Jebusites in Jerusalem and made their fortress of Zion his home, calling it the city of David. His victories continued until there was peace with all his enemies (II Samuel 7:1). Then Israel rejoiced with their beloved king with singing, dancing, and feasting (II Samuel 6:19). Because he was a king with a heart for the people, God loved and favored him.
2. THE KING’S SEER
A. Nathan the Prophet
Three prophets (also called seers, “ones who see”) were important to David’s life: Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. Samuel was to David a beloved elder, a trusted friend and counselor, a fatherly figure, a statesman, and most of all, a prophet. Samuel was there for David during his formative years, and his influence remained with David until Samuel’s dying day.
The prophet Gad joined David in the wilderness when he was fleeing from Saul. David valued his advice to leave the stronghold in the wilderness and go to Judea into the forest of Hereth (I Samuel 22:5). Gad reappeared when David numbered the people and faced God’s punishment for his sin (II Samuel 24:11–19). It seems that Gad remained a part of the royal establishment in Jerusalem throughout the reign of David and wrote the history of David in a book at his death (I Chronicles 29:29).
Nathan was a contemporary of Gad. Both remained as part of the royal court with access to David. Both participated in establishing the musical arrangements for the house of the Lord (II Chronicles 29:25), and both wrote of the acts of David at his death (I Chronicles 29:29). But Nathan emerged as the predominant voice of the Lord during the heart of David’s leadership. He was there when David desired to build the house for the Lord and when David sinned with Bathsheba (II Samuel 7:1–3; 11:1–17). When David had his greatest responsibility to the nation, God provided him with two prophets of the court.
God has always provided counsel. From His voice in the Garden of Eden to the Comforter today, He will never leave us or forsake us, even to the end of the world. “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20). (See John 14:18; Hebrews 13:5.)
B. Nathan the King’s Friend
Spiritual leadership is often a lonely place where trusted friends become great assets. David had such a friend in Nathan. At what point Nathan became associated with David is not clear, but he was a familiar figure in the court at Jerusalem. He was there during the early good times of growth and prosperity for the kingdom when David wanted to build a temple (II Samuel 7:2–3) and in the mid years when David sinned and needed straight talk to correct his wrongs in order to continue his leadership (II Samuel 12:1–15).
Nathan was the voice of righteous justice who befriended David throughout his reign as king. No greater friendship could exist than one that guides an individual into a true relationship with the Lord, who is a friend that is closer than a brother. (See Proverbs 18:24.) In the closing days, Nathan was there to help guide the selection of Solomon as David’s successor to the throne (I Kings 1:11–30).
C. Nathan the King’s Advisor
An advisor provides information and counsel to assist the advisee in making proper decisions in matters of grave concern. The best advisors are knowledgeable, professional counselors or those who have vested interests and personal knowledge of the advisee. With Gad and Nathan, David had God-qualified advisors as prophets with vested personal interests in him and the kingdom of Israel. It appears that David always followed through with what his seers advised. Gad seemed to function in the role of a lifelong personal friend whose heart was with David. Nathan seemed to function more in the pure prophet’s role as God’s voice to David. Each was there at the right time with the right advice. Nothing is more comforting than a word from the Lord brought by a friend in time of trouble.
3. THE PROPHET’S REBUKE
A. David Sinned
There is never justification for sin. It is always wrong and always has consequences. But there are times in life when it seems people are more prone to do wrong and commit sin. These times include times of stress, midpoints in life and experience, and times when individuals are relaxed from the pressures of obligations and commitments. Neither youthful indiscretions nor age-related tolerances can be ignored. Sin is sin regardless of how and when it happens.
At one point, David chose to tarry in Jerusalem during the time when the kings went to war (II Samuel 11:1). Joab, his servants, and all Israel were in battle, but David stayed home. There was no sin in not going to battle, but there was a vulnerability and weakness in noncommitment.
One evening David rose from his bed and walked upon his roof, where he observed Bathsheba washing herself. He sent for her, lay with her, and sent her home (II Samuel 11:1–4). Later, when she sent word that she was with child, David attempted to cover his sin by calling her husband, Uriah, home from the battlefield to be with Bathsheba. When Uriah refused to go home after David had summoned him from the battle, and instead spent the night with the servants, David devised a plan to have Uriah killed. Joab was to place Uriah in the forefront of the battle and withdraw from him to assure his death. Joab followed David’s orders and sent word back to David (II Samuel 11:16–25). David then took Bathsheba for his wife.
David followed the same pattern of sin experienced in the beginning by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and by Achan in the exodus from Egypt. The pattern is (1) they saw something forbidden and coveted it, (2) they did wrong by taking what they coveted, and (3) they attempted to hide their sins by covering them. In short, the process is look, take, and hide. Little thought was given to the increasing discomfort of guilt and shame. (See Genesis 3:6–8; Joshua 7:20–21.)
Though David thought he had covered his sins, he could not hide them from God. The Lord was displeased with him (II Samuel 11:27), and David suffered the consequences of his sins.
The expression “two wrongs don’t make a right” is true. Sin is not corrected by additional sin to cover the original sin. Even though David’s sin was not immediately exposed, it was not hidden. David’s heart and mind became troubled. In Psalm 32, David gave a glimpse of what was going on in his soul during the year following his sin. On the surface, David seemed to be doing fine. But consternation and raging guilt were in his heart. It is the amazing mercy of God that speaks to our hearts and gives us space and time to repent. (See Proverbs 28:13.)
After long months of living with guilt, the Lord sent Nathan to David with a parable and a message. The parable was that of a rich man with many sheep and a poor man with only one little ewe lamb. The rich man took the ewe lamb for a meal and offered it to a wayfaring traveler rather than taking a lamb of his own flock. (See II Samuel 12:1–6.) David’s anger was heated and he demanded justice of the rich man. Then his friend, the prophet who loved him, spoke the truth to David in love, the way truth is always supposed to be presented (Ephesians 4:15), and said: “Thou art the man” (II Samuel 12:7).
Before David had time to respond, Nathan continued with the full story and sequence of events. He started with the blessings of the Lord upon David’s life. Then Nathan gave the order of the severity of the sins. First was the sin against the Lord of despising His commandments and doing evil. Next was the sin of murder against Uriah the Hittite. Last was the sin of adultery against Bathsheba, the wife of another man. David knew the Lord had revealed his sins to Nathan, and David believed he would die because of them.
Nathan pronounced judgment upon David (II Samuel 12:7, 11). The pronouncement of the sword and the destruction of the sacredness of his wives were heavy words upon David’s ears. He did the only right thing he could do and cast himself upon the mercy of the Lord with repentance. He confessed to the prophet, “I have sinned against the Lord” (II Samuel 12:13). David realized his sin carried a death sentence both by the law of Moses and by his own pronounced judgment upon the rich man who took the poor man’s lamb in Nathan’s parable.
Following David’s confession, Nathan told him he would not die. However, because his deed gave the enemies of the Lord great occasion to blaspheme, the child would die. With those words, Nathan left David, and the Lord struck the child with a severe illness (II Samuel 12:15). For seven days David lay before the Lord upon the earth, fasting and praying for the child, hoping God might reconsider.
When the child died, David rose from the earth, washed himself, changed his clothing, and went into the house of the Lord where he worshiped, beginning his healing process. He knew righteous justice had been done. He knew Nathan was a true prophet. He knew he would live. He knew the Lord loved him. He knew he needed to fulfill his responsibilities as the king of Israel.
Sin stops forward progress. It causes one to cover and hide. It prevents the blessing of God. It inhibits the joy factors of strength and victory from flowing naturally within our lives. It destroys our purpose and separates us from our calling. It also causes others to suffer. Joab spent an entire year or more in besiegement of Rabbah, the royal city of Ammon, with no success. However, when David made things right and entered the battle, Rabbah was conquered and David was crowned with the king’s crown of Rabbah. (See II Samuel 11:1; 12:26–31.)
Two important lessons emerge from the closing of the story. First, David forgave himself, a difficult thing to do. Second, he comforted Bathsheba and went in to her, and she conceived another son, Solomon, whom God loved and who was to become David’s successor to the throne. Repentance and forgiveness are wonderful gifts.
That will conclude our study for tonight, when we get back together on Friday we will pick up our study at B. “David Sinned Again”, until then have a great rest of the week.