2 Samuel 12:1-13
But God was not at all pleased with what David had done, and sent Nathan to David. Nathan said to him, “There were two men in the same city—one rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him. “One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.”
David exploded in anger. “As surely as God lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!” “You’re the man!” said Nathan. “And here’s what God, the God of Israel, has to say to you: I made you king over Israel. I freed you from the fist of Saul. I gave you your master’s daughter and other wives to have and to hold. I gave you both Israel and Judah. And if that hadn’t been enough, I’d have gladly thrown in much more. So why have you treated the word of God with brazen contempt, doing this great evil? You murdered Uriah the Hittite, then took his wife as your wife. Worse, you killed him with an Ammonite sword! And now, because you treated God with such contempt and took Uriah the Hittite’s wife as your wife, killing and murder will continually plague your family. This is God speaking, remember! I’ll make trouble for you out of your own family. I’ll take your wives from right out in front of you. I’ll give them to some neighbor, and he’ll go to bed with them openly. You did your deed in secret; I’m doing mine with the whole country watching!”
Then David confessed to Nathan, “I’ve sinned against God.” Nathan pronounced, “Yes, but that’s not the last word. God forgives your sin. You won’t die for it.
As we pick up the story, David, the apple of God’s eye, God’s chosen and anointed King, is in the process of screwing up big time. You just have to love David. Whatever he chose to do, he went at it full force. So when David decided to commit adultery he did it in grand style. He managed to get the wife of the commander of his troops pregnant while her husband was out of town on a business trip – a trip David has sent him on. Since the trip involved warfare, David decided to plot with the guy’s troops to expose him in battle and get him killed. And it worked. David was off the hook, scot free. Or so he though.
Somehow in the heat of things (pardon the pun) David lost sight of God. That should not surprise us since that is exactly what we do when we give ourselves over to sin. We turn away from God. Sometimes when we do that we compensate and rationalize by developing a god that approves of what we are doing or at least a god who understands why we need to do what we are doing and is willing to turn a blind eye to it. We decide that the god we follow is a loving god and that means our god wants us to be happy so he/she not only allows us to do whatever we wish, he/she approves of what we are doing. With that approach to theology so prevalent, morality and holiness have pretty much disappeared off of the church’s radar screen. Right or wrong is measured by what makes us happy.
Fortunately, when David found himself in this self induced na-na land of “I am living like hell but that is okay”, God did not abandon him there. Enter Nathan. Nathan was sent by God to jerk a knot in David because God really did love David and God loved him too much to leave him in that mess. Just like us, when David gave himself over to sin he broke his relationship with God. Just like us, David pretended that everything was just fine, but it wasn’t. God loved David too much to lose him. So he sent in the rescue team; a team of one named Nathan. I truly admire Nathan. He had more courage in one finger that most of us exhibit in an entire lifetime. He took on the task of telling the KING that he (the KING) was full of crap. Not a job I would want to sign up for.
Now, Nathan is a pretty sharp cookie. Instead of showing up with Bible in hand and boney finger pointed at King David, Nathan just told David a story. Everyone loves stories. The story Nathan told was a morality tale of an unjust, rich, powerful, stingy man who took advantage of a situation and some people and abused them. It was just about a pet sheep that he took to feed a guest but David was incensed. He went off and demanded that justice be served and the wrong be righted immediately. At that point Nathan turned to David and said, “You are the man.” I wasn’t there but I envision Nathan bathed in sweat, shaking like he was freezing; his voice cracking as he strained to deliver what could be a life ending message for him. There was an excellent chance David would kill him on the spot. Don’t forget that at this point in his life, David was behaving rather badly. What’s another dead guy if it helps cover his behind? As frightened as he must have been, Nathan looked the KING in the eye and called him a sinner.
Fortunately for Nathan and more fortunately for David, David repented. Repenting repaired David’s relationship with God but it did not get him off the hook of bearing responsibility for and results of his sinful behavior. Bad stuff happened anyway. But the most important thing was, not that David’s live was problem free and everything happening was making him “happy”, but that he was returned to a right relationship with God.
The most profound and powerful lesson in all of this is the obedience of Nathan. Because God had called him and empowered him, Nathan spoke the truth about sin to the most powerful man in the country. It could have literally cost Nathan his life. He had no guarantee that David would respond well and repent. Nathan’s obedience saved the King and probably saved the country.
I wonder what would happen if we, you and me, started telling the truth? What would happen if we started calling a sin a sin? We don’t because: it is not politically correct; it is none of our business; who are we to judge; where do we come off deciding what is right and what is wrong: it would make us uncomfortable; somebody might get angry. And the list of excuses goes on and on. Blah, blah. What it comes down to, we have all moved to the na-na land that David had moved to and when, or if, God sent us our Nathans, we failed to listen. We need to repent. My prayer is that God loves us enough to send us another Nathan or two and we have the good sense to repent.
Just a thought.