When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. (2 Samuel 11:26-12:1)
The Courage Of Nathan
When the story of David and Bathsheba is told, the central characters are the focus of adultery, immorality, deceit, shame and murder. It is a dark time in the life of King David as he allows his carnal appetites to lead him into a grievous sin that would define the rest of his life. Bathsheba would mourn the death of her husband and later the death of her firstborn son. There were many consequences to the reckless moment of folly when David brought Uriah’s wife to his home. One of the main characters in the story is often overlooked for the role he had to play in carrying out the word of the Lord. David had successfully hidden his sins from the prying eyes of the people with the exception of Joab and possibly a few others. For the nation of Israel the death of Uriah was a cost of war. To the mind of God it was murder. When the mourning period was over for Bathsheba David took Uriah’s wife for his own. It would seem that everyone assumed the poor widow would bear the son of Uriah in sadness not knowing that David was the father of the child. The Lord knew who the father was. In God’s time someone had to confront the king with his sin. Nathan was the chosen vessel the Lord would use to confront the king of Israel with a sin that would define his dynasty and legacy.
Nathan was a prophet in the land and was a counselor of David. Earlier the king had desired to build a house for God and Nathan agreed it would be a great thing for David to do. During the night the word of the Lord came to Nathan telling him that David could not build the Temple because he was a man of war. The prophet informed the king of God’s word and David accepted the will of the Lord. Then came that fateful day when the Lord spoke to Nathan telling him of David and Bathsheba and that he, Nathan, must confront the king about his sin. This must have crushed the prophet who had to know what few people knew and then to convey to the guilty party the word of the Lord. It would have distressed Nathan greatly to hear about his king and the level of culpability in the affair of Uriah and Bathsheba and David’s actions. Making matters worse – it was tasked upon Nathan to stand before the king and reveal the sentence of the Lord upon the heart of this man of God. The prophet Nathan did not shirk his responsibility and went to the king and boldly proclaimed the word of the Lord and the sentence of guilt upon David and Bathsheba. He had to bear the terrible news the child that would be born would die and he knew the reasons why. No man had a greater burden to bear than to go before a good man like David and open up the wounds of sin declaring the grace of God to a fallen man. Nathan did what God commanded him to do.
There are great men and there are men like Nathan. His task was an impossible mission for many men who would faint at the hint of standing before King David and reveal the terrible sin that made this story so tragic. Adultery, deceit, drunkenness and finally murder all spells doom to those of faint heart. Nathan would have been greatly distressed over the affair and looked deep within himself at the moment he must stand before David and tell him what he knew. There must have been many hours of prayer as the prophet prepared himself to charge his king with the word of God. Nathan was a man of God because he knew that as painful his task the word of the Lord must be proclaimed. He carried out the will of the Lord. There is a need in the church of God today for men to have the courage of Nathan to boldly stand for truth and righteousness regardless of who is in need of the charge. It is easy to take the lower road of compromise and ignore the problem. Sin will have its way in the hearts of God’s people and when those who teach and proclaim the word of God fail to admonish, rebuke and chasten sin they fail as messengers of the Lord. Nathan was blessed with challenging a man who had a tender heart and recognized immediately his sin. The prophet would continue to be a treasured adviser for David and Bathsheba. Sometimes men like John the Baptist will lose their lives because they dared speak the truth about a powerful man. John told King Herod he was in an unlawful marriage. He had the boldness of Nathan but Herod was no David. Those who teach and preach the word today must stand on the shoulders of men like Nathan and John and preach the word – only the word. It must be preached before hostile audiences and disenchanted hearts but preach the word we must. Nathan had the courage to challenge the king of Israel. Are you up to the task? Preach the word.