Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” —2 Samuel 12:5–7 (ESV)
King David is known for his devotion to the Lord, especially as expressed in the psalms. David does not appear to have lived a particularly sinful lifestyle, but when he fell, he fell big! This part of his story is a classic (and tragic) example of how one sin leads to another.
Today’s text comes after David’s series of sins. First, he sends for a woman, Bathsheba, whom he had seen bathe and commits adultery with her. When David learns that they have conceived a child, he tries to bring her husband, a loyal soldier for David, back from the battlefield and reunite the married couple so that Uriah will think the baby is his. When Uriah’s loyalty thwarts David’s plan, David sends Uriah to the front of the battle to have him killed. Adultery, deception, murder. But then comes chapter 12 verse 1: “Then the Lord sent Nathan to David.” The prophet, Nathan, tells a parable to David to illustrate the evil that David had done. In today’s passage, David reacts to Nathan’s story, claiming the man in the story deserves death. In dramatic fashion, Nathan forces David to look in the mirror: “You are the man!” At this confrontation, David confesses his sin and repents.
God sometimes sends ‘Nathans’ to us to speak truth into our lives, to call us out when we’re wrong, and helps recognize right from wrong. Don’t ignore such a person when God sends them your way. But also consider that God may ask you to be a ‘Nathan’ in someone else’s life—to speak truth in love and say some hard things. Confrontation is not pleasant but it is part of how God shapes us as Christian brothers and sisters. To whom can you be that trusted friend?