Friday, May 24, 2013

Are You a Nathan?

Today is the final day of our twentieth week, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20; Acts 27; Psalms 51, 32.

In our OT scriptures today, we read about David and Bathsheba.  Often, when you read a story, you "read yourself into" one of the characters.  This means that you pick a character with whom you most identify, and you sympathize with that person.  For example, you might see yourself as kind of a flawed good guy, and you might identify with David.  You are susceptible to temptation, and, though you could never imagine yourself in a situation like that one, you might have been in a position of trying to hide your sin at one time or another.  Or, you might see yourself as a victim to life's manipulations, and so you identify with Bathsheba.  She had no recourse, no choice in any of this.  Reading yourself into characters is a good way to get into a Bible story.  But it's a good idea to read yourself into a variety of characters, so you can get a full perspective.  If you more readily identify with Bathsheba, then put yourself in David's shoes and try to figure out what made him tick.  Or, if you feel a commonality with David, try to figure out how Bathsheba must have felt.

The main character I want to get you to identify with today, though, is neither David nor Bathsheba.  It's Nathan.  Nathan, who heard from God and needed to have the guts to say something that was hard.  God had a rebuke for him to give the king--and Nathan certainly didn't take that task lightly.  He'd seen David kill the messenger before.  So he decided to tell David God's truth in a way that the king might understand, and in a way that just might soften the blow.

In 2 Samuel 12:1-7a (ESV), we read:  
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!

What a good servant of God, Nathan was!  What a good friend to the wayward king, to step out of his place of comfort, put his own neck on the line, and say what David needed to hear, even if David didn't want to hear it.  

Has God called you to be a Nathan to anybody?  Maybe the Lord has placed you in a relationship with someone, and given you insight into something that they can't see for themselves.  It could be that God wants to use you to get them back on the right track.  It's important to know the right way to approach that person.  Everybody's different.  David's ego wouldn't have withstood a direct rebuke--he most likely would have gotten angry and taken it out on Nathan.  But Nathan found a way to speak the truth in love, in a way that would be received.

Are you a Nathan in somebody else's life?  I pray that God will not only tell you what to say to them, to give them the rebuke that they need--but that God will also give you the gentle words that mix correction with encouragement.

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