The Prophet Nathan
“The Lord sent Nathan to David.” 2 Samuel 12:1
David has sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba. God has allowed the crime to remain hidden for at least nine months – the son has been born who will die for the sin of David. The time has come. God sends his servant Nathan to start turning the wheels of justice.
Who is Nathan? David had two main spiritual advisors in his court, Nathan the Prophet and Gad the “king's Seer.” These were accomplished men. Both were involved with David in planning the temple music and liturgy (2 Chr. 29:25). Both wrote accounts of the reign of David (1 Chr. 29:29). Nathan lived to a great age and wrote an account of Solomon's reign as well (2 Chr. 9:29). Along with the writings of Samuel, these two histories are most likely our two books of Samuel and the beginning of 1 Kings. As prophet, it was Nathan's grace and joyful task, after receiving the word of the Lord at night, to announce to David the eternal covenant God was making with him and his house (2 Samuel 7).
It should come as no surprise that this skilled historian, worshipper, and pastor should be sent with a most difficult message to David. His job was to bring David to repentance and to a knowledge of the just verdict of God. He does this with great economy of words. And to the eternal credit of David, he listened and took the words to heart and opened himself in repentance to God in the presence of Nathan. He had ears to hear. And when David comforted Bathsheba in her sorrow and the Lord gave them the boy Solomon, it was Nathan who brought the news that this one would be king. This is how God works.
Nathan's words were honored by the king, even when they hurt most. Should we doubt that Bathsheba's boy Nathan was named after him? Yet most prophets were not heard.
O, that David was typical of God's people. Many were denigrated and persecuted and killed by God's people. The word of the Lord sent through them was despised and rejected. Christian, open your ears to the word of the Lord as it comes through his servants today.
His work was not finished. In his old age, as David laid close to death, his son Adonijah tried to seize power and become king. It was Nathan who approached Bathsheba with the news, and advised her how to save her life and that of Solomon. His council was wise and just – she went first to David and he arrived later to confirm her words. David reacted as he should, and in righteousness Nathan the Prophet joined Zadok the Priest in anointing Solomon as king. God mercy is announced, confirmed, and secured by his servants the prophets.