“And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 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! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.” (2 Samuel 12:1–9 ESV)
The Lord sends Nathan to David in order to confront him on his sin. The strength it took for Nathan to confront the king is incredible. His hope was not in David’s response or even in the hope that He was a man after God’s own heart. He could have been killed for confronting David. Nathan feared God more than He feared man.
Nathan started by telling David a story of a poor man who had a prized lamb and a rich man who took it, killed it and served it for dinner for a guest. It’s a tearjerker. We, like David, can have so much empathy for others and be so blind to the ones close to us that we have offended; sin always blinds us. David’s empathy and zeal for justice is real, but he is blinded to the parallel in his own life. Sin always blinds us. David starts rolling out how to make restitution. David took Bathsheba just like the rich man who took the poor man’s lamb.
Nathan is not afraid to call sin what it is – SIN! He boldly confronts David, proclaiming that David is the man who did this thing! We don’t like to call sin, sin. We have more sophisticated words for it today – like dysfunction – words that are less offensive and harsh so that we won’t feel bad about ourselves. By doing this, we dumb down the justice of God and make His grace less than amazing. In order for grace to be amazing, we must feel the crushing weight of our sin under the perfect standard of God’s law.
In verses 7 & 8, God reviews His grace to David. God anointed David king, delivered him from Saul, gave him Saul’s house, wives & kingdom. And God adds a comment on the end: “And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.” God had been good to David. Remembering God’s grace and goodness is important in walking uprightly. We have nothing that we have not been given (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Nathan calls out David’s sin for what it was – murder and adultery. How did Nathan know this? Was there a group of people who gathered together to strategize how to confront David? No, there is profound rest in believing that Yahweh sees all, knows all and rules over all so we don’t have to. The specifics of David’s sin is no match for the Sovereign eye of the Almighty.
When we are called to approach a brother or sister in sin, we normally experience uncertainty, doubt or fear. In these moments, we must learn to rest in God’s goodness and His sovereignty; we must fear Him more than we fear man – this is easier said than done! As we approach another, we must do it boldly, but with grace – never self righteously because except for God’s grace towards us, we would walk the same path. We don’t love others well if we are not willing to help them see their blind spots and we are not loved well if we don’t have people in our lives who are willing to point out our blind spots.
Lord, help us to see you as the greatest treasure in the world so that other things pale in comparison to knowing and following you.