Before getting to today’s post, I want to thank Terry Francis for willingly providing today’s guest article. He is doing a fantastic job in our gospel meeting this week. He has been talking to us about Connecting and Conquering, that is, about the importance of congregational unity in order to fight the battles against the real enemy. As of the posting of this article, he has two lessons to go. Tuesday, October 13, at 7 pm, his lesson is entitled, “Danger Ahead!” and discusses what churches need to do when fellowship breaks down. The first three lessons all focused on how to be united in the face of the battle, this one takes a look at what to do when the fellowship starts to break down. Then on Wednesday, October 14, at 7 pm, his lesson is entitled “Love Will Keep Us Together.” We’ll look at how we can love each other as Jesus loved us so we can fight the enemy and not each other. Hope you can make it.
And now for the post:
Nathan and David: Confronting a Friend
It must have been frightening. The historical account doesn’t detail how Nathan was directed—it simply says, “Then the Lord sent Nathan to David…” (2 Sam. 12:1). Nathan wasn’t to confront just any man about his sins—he was sent to confront the king of Israel. Who would dare rebuke a king? But how could Nathan dare say “No” to God? Nathan’s acceptance of God’s command resulted in one of the most familiar confrontations ever recorded in scripture.
The scriptures suggest that Nathan was more than just a prophet of God. Nathan was informed of David’s desire to build God a temple (2 Sam. 7). David’s second son was possibly named after the prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 5:14). Nathan named David’s second son by Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:25). Nathan remained loyal to David during the rebellion of Adonijah and anointed Solomon as king (1 Kings 1). The Lord didn’t just send a prophet to confront David, He sent a friend.
It was Nathan’s relationship with David that formed his approach. David had gone to great lengths to cover up his iniquity. Meanwhile, God had been preparing David’s heart for the confrontation ahead. David wrote, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3–4). God’s heavy hand no doubt softened the calloused heart of the king, but it was the well-crafted approach of a friend that pricked his heart. Notice the wisdom of Nathan’s approach:
Nathan used David’s experience as a shepherd (2 Sam. 12:3–4).
The choice of a lamb was purposeful. Who could deny that? Nathan appealed to the heart of the shepherd boy turned king. If anyone understood the love for a special lamb, it would be the former shepherd.
Nathan appealed to David’s wisdom and judgment (2 Sam. 12:1–6).
As king, David had judged numerous times for the people. He served as the equivalent of today’s Supreme Court hearing and judging the most difficult cases. While David’s personal life was plagued by guilt and misery resulting from sin, the king was still capable of executing righteous judgment. Nathan understood this and appealed to David’s judgment.
Nathan appealed to David’s knowledge of the Law.
The subject of Nathan’s story violated a number of Mosaic Laws. He violated the tenth commandment, which forbids one from coveting anything belonging to his neighbor (Ex. 20:17). David’s pronounced judgment of restoring the lamb fourfold was a direct application of Exodus 22:1, “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.” As David’s friend, Nathan understood the king’s knowledge of the Law.
It was Nathan’s knowledge of his friend that equipped him to confront David with great wisdom. David’s anger was quickly aroused as he pronounced his righteous judgment. He failed to see that he had sought to remove the speck from another’s eye while a beam extended from his own (Matt. 7:1–5). Nathan responded to David, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7). David had pronounced judgment on himself. His God-softened heart had finally been defeated by the loving rebuke of his friend. He responded with a penitent heart (2 Sam. 12:13).
Nathan was the best friend David ever had. Nathan could have defended his friend. He could have attempted to justify the sins of David. But rather than cower before the king, Nathan rose to the challenge and helped turn his friend back to God. James wrote, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19–20). Nathan saved David’s soul from death. That’s friendship! The wise man said, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). The darkest hours of life reveal the greatest friendships.
We need to learn from David. Rather than respond with bitterness towards Nathan, David saw the love of a friend. He responded with godly sorrow that produced repentance. He understood what courage it must have taken for his friend to confront him. We should seek to imitate David’s response to a rebuke.
We also need to learn from Nathan. True friendship is manifested in the willingness to save a friend’s soul despite the risks. Nathan knew his rebuke of the king could have cost him a friendship and possibly his life. He was willing to risk it all to save the king—to save his friend.
-by Terry Francis
In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus was told of Galileans whom Pilate had executed. Considering Jesus’ response, it seems the people expected Him to wax eloquent about how sinful the ones killed had been. That was why they suffered. At the same time, it seems the people also expected Him to say how innocent they must have been because nothing like that had happened to them.
However, Jesus said neither of those things. Rather, He turned this whole story around on the people. “Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The people who died were not worse offenders. They were all offenders. The death of some Galileans was not a reason for other Galileans to say, “Look at me, I must be better because that hasn’t happened to me.” Rather, Jesus claimed that was an occasion to say, “I better look at me, because if I don’t bring my life under God’s control, that will happen to me too.”
This story is on my mind because of Steve McNair’s murder on July 4. I know it has been several weeks, but the story has played on my mind, especially with the scandal surrounding it. One newspaper headlined the story with: “Steve McNair’s death brings other side of his life to light.” Apparently, this iconic football star with great connections in the community, a seemingly good marriage, and four children had some sin struggles. Ultimately, those sins killed him in a very literal and physical way.
Sadly, most people view this story the same way the Jews did the executed Galileans and the folks on whom the tower of Siloam fell. Some have expressed shock. No doubt, some have suggested all high profile people are “like that.” Some have expressed disappointment. But the attention has all been focused on this “other side” of his life.
If Jesus were here and we said, “Hey, did you hear Steve McNair was shot by a girl he was having an affair with?” I believe He would say to us, “Do you think McNair was a worse sinner than all other Tennesseans because he suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Here is the point. Sin kills. Your sins kill. Whether you think they are small or great, your sins will lead right to this same point. Perhaps not to be murdered by a girlfriend. But they will lead to your death, if not physically, at least spiritually. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 7:11 says, “For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”
That is what sin does. That is what sin does to everyone. We sometimes like to make ourselves feel better when we can point to someone who has done worse or suffered worse consequences. But these stories should not cause us to be arrogant; they should humble us before God. For, unless we repent, we shall all likewise perish.