Nathan was one of the chief prophets of King David. We love the stories of David growing up because of his artistic creative gifts of the written psalm. We love to read of his faith in God by facing the giant. We revel in the story of how God chose him to be the next King from Jesse’s household of many brothers. As King, the people loved David and would do anything for him!
King David, deemed “a man after God’s own heart”, sinned. And He sinned greatly. His sin affected two families and caused eventual death due to his selfish desires of sin. David’s sin, along with the outcomes of his sin, disappointed and righteously angered Nathan, his chief mentor and advisor. Nathan thought the world of David. He loved David. Nathan had the heart of God, so his heart was broken by this sin of David who he knew God loved.
THIS IS KEY: Nathan’s love for God and David led him, at all risks to his life and future relationships with David, to confront him. So Nathan, grieving over the situation and led by God, confronts David of his sin of adultery and murder.
HERE’S HOW IT WENT DOWN
Nathan opens his conversation with David by telling a story about a rich man with lots of livestock taking and killing the only lamb of a poor man. The point of the conversation was to for David to see the parallel of hurt, disgust and destruction of lives as a result of his own atrocity of sin.
Ah, people love to give advice, but when should we listen? Here are ideas on how to discern truth based on Nathan’s confrontation of David.
I think God wants us to love and respect other people, not just ourselves and not just him. One way he makes sure that we really love each other, see God’s presence in each other, and listen to each other is by speaking to us through other people. So, whether we like it or not, we need to pay attention to what other people are telling us because they may have the message we need to hear.
The talks that Nathan (a prophet and spiritual advisor) has with David (an anointed king) gives us an idea of the way God speaks through friends and family. By the way, the story of David about his affair with Bathsheba and cover-up-turned-murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband and one of David’s top men is found in 2 Samuel:12.
Considering this story and thinking about times when friends have spoken truth to me (or members of my family), I have put together a short list of clues that indicate that someone is speaking God’s truth:
1. The messenger doesn’t have a personal agenda; the point of the conversation is to help you see truth.
The purpose is to get David to see truth and begin the process of restoring his relationship with God.
2. A nagging concern is addressed.
At the time of Nathan’s meeting, David may have put the past behind him. But surely, at some point, he struggled with the problem of getting another man’s wife pregnant. The affair and pregnancy bothered him enough to attempt to cover up the affair by bringing Uriah back from war and encouraging him to sleep with Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife), and then sending him to the battlefront to be killed after the first plan failed. At some point, David must have felt fear or regret even if he later pushed those emotions aside.
So, whether David was presently wrestling with the problems of adultery and murder, it’s likely that he did have some major concerns at some point. The message from Nathan deals with this struggle.
3. The message is specific.
After getting David to understand and admit his wrongdoing, Nathan lets him know specifically what is going to happen next. The prophet explains that God has forgiven him; however, the contempt David has shown for God will result in the death of his child with Bathsheba.
Based on my observations and experiences, messages from God through other people don’t necessarily focus on condemnation. However, they typically deal with a specific concern, circumstance, or recommended course of action.
4. The messenger has unusual insight about your situation.
As far as we know, Nathan has not had much contact with David in the year or so leading up to this confrontation. He doesn’t seem deeply involved in the day-to-day activities of the king and his family. Still, Nathan comprehends what has happened, senses David’s emotional and spiritual condition, and tells a story that both illuminates the problem and resonates with David.
When someone has a pulse on your situation, not only the facts but also the feelings, this person can guide you in confronting a problem and taking a step in a new direction.
Sometimes we get annoyed when someone complains to us, calls us out, challenges us. It’s difficult to filter messages and easy to wish we were surrounded by a different, more compliant and supportive group of people.
What’s tricky then is to know when we should be listening to our friends and when we should be developing a thicker skin. Nathan’s interaction with David and David’s response to Nathan gives us a guide for discerning truth.
JESUS KNOWS OUR HEARTS AND ADVISES…
Come forward a few centuries in God’s teaching in His Word to Jesus time on earth. He takes the same position in lovingly confronting sin with the hopes of winning the sinner over. It is no wonder the “lost sheep, the one of 99” is followed by this spiritual advice to His disciples. Jesus explains…
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM JESUS?
1. It’s a private matter.
2. The sin, left unattended, will affect the Body of Christ.
3. Love cares enough to confront.
4. The outcome is for the good of the person who sinned with a goal to “win them over”, not rake them over burning coals of hate.
5. If they don’t listen, let God do the rest in this person’s life.
6. Ask God for the words to say.
7. Pray for the person’s heart to be pliable. God is there when we call on Him in these private matters between “two or three gathered.
So, there we have two great examples of loving confrontation. Nathan was led by God and won David over, drawing him back to God. Jesus explains the method of confrontation that is holy, loving and kind with a goal to win the sinner over and draw them back into God’s arms of love, mercy and grace.
When have you been confronted, listened, and came back to God and began to grow again in His love? Thank God right now for the confronter! It was probably the hardest, obedient act of love they were led of God to do.
When have you confronted someone else because of your love for them?
Help us to be completely led by you in these matters of sin that breaks your heart and maims Your Body of believers. This is tricky. We must have your loving heart, full of your right motivations for the good of the person when led to reveal the sin that causes destruction of spiritually lives. Lord, help us to distinguish the delicate balance and see the difference between mere critical judging that is not needed for loving confrontation that will “win them over” to a better life with You in control once more. All for your glory and our good.
IN JESUS NAME, Amen.