2 Samuel 12:1
And the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him, There were two men in one city; the one rich…
And Jehovah sent Nathan to David. The sin Of David could not be hid. It was known to his servants (2 Samuel 11:4) and to Joab; it must have been surmised by many from his hasty marriage; and now it was fully manifest (2 Samuel 11:27). About a year had elapsed. "What a year for David to have spent! What a joyless, sunless, godless year! Were God's words still sweet to his taste? Were they still the rejoicing of his heart? or had he come to hate the threatening of the Law?" (J. Wright). At length Nathan (2 Samuel 7:3) came - an example of a faithful reprover (Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 27:6; 1 Samuel 1:13; 1 Samuel 2:22). Consider -
I. HIS DIVINE COMMISSION. He came, not because he was sent for by David, nor because he was prompted by natural reason or impulse (2 Samuel 7:3), but in obedience to the word of the Lord (ver. 7), and in fulfilment of his prophetic calling. "It was the true mission of the prophets, as champions of the oppressed in the courts of kings; it was the true prophetic spirit that spoke through Nathan's mouth" (Stanley).
1. Reproof should be administered only according to the will of God. It is not forevery one to assume the office of reprover (Psalm 50:16); nor to administer reproof to every one who may deserve it, especially when holding a position of authority. In this matter men are apt to run before they are sent. The duty is a relative one, and demands careful consideration before it is undertaken.
2. The will of God concerning the administration of reproof is indicated in various ways; such as the authority given to parents, magistrates, pastors, and teachers - "reprove, rebuke," etc. (2 Timothy 4:2; 5:1); the teachings of the Divine Word; the guidance of the Divine Spirit.
3. When the will of God is clearly made known, it should be humbly, readily, and diligently obeyed; both when it requires his servants to testify his favour (2 Samuel 7:4, 25) and his displeasure (2 Samuel 11:27).
II. HIS CONSUMMATE WISDOM. In nothing are wisdom and prudence more needed than in reproof. If given unwisely it is likely to excite opposition, produce equivocation, repel and harden. "A word fitly spoken," etc. (Proverbs 25:11, 12). It should be given:
1. At a proper time - when the proof of wrong doing admits of no denial, and the mind of the wrong doer is duly prepared. It is not probable that Nathan came immediately after he first heard of David's transgression. "His task was not to gain a confession, but only to facilitate it. He was appointed by God to await the time of the internal crisis of David" (Hengstenberg).
2. When the offender is alone (Matthew 18:15), and is likely to pay greater heed to it and to be less influenced by what others think. Sometimes, however, sinners must be "rebuked before all, that others also may fear" (1 Timothy 5:20).
3. In a maimer adapted to produce the most salutary effect; with harmless wisdom (Matthew 10:16) and holy and beneficent "guile" (2 Corinthians 12:16) displayed in;
(1) A respectful, courteous, and conciliatory bearing. To begin with rude reproaches is to ensure failure.
(2) An ingenious invention of a "form of speech" (2 Samuel 14:20) and illustration suitable to the case.
(3) A generous recognition of the better qualities in men. "David's goodness is not denied because of his sin, nor is David's sin denied because of his goodness."
(4) A clear statement of the truth, avoiding exaggeration and everything that may hinder its illuminating force.
(5) A strong appeal to the conscience, so as to quicken its action as a witness and judge.
(6) A dexterous application of admitted principles and expressed judgments and emotions.
(7) An effectual removal of the mists of self-deception, so as to enable the evil doer to see his actual character and conduct, and constrain him to reprove and condemn himself. The wisdom of the prophet in fulfilling his mission to the king was "inimitably admirable." "Observing that this direct road (the recommendation of self-knowledge) which led to it (the reformation of mankind) was guarded on all sides by self-love, and consequently very difficult to open access, public instructors soon found out that a different and more artful course was requisite. As they had not strength to remove this flattering passion which stood in their way and blocked up the passages to the heart, they endeavoured by stratagem to get beyond it, and, by a skilful address, if possible to deceive it. This gave rise to the only manner of conveying their instructions in parables, fables, and such sort of indirect applications; which, though they could not conquer this principle of self-love, yet often laid it asleep, or at least overreached it for a few moments, till a just judgment could be procured. The Prophet Nathan seems to have been a great master in this art of address" (Laurence Sterne).
III. HIS HOLY COURAGE. His mission was as perilous as it was painful; and might, if it failed, have cost him his life. But he feared not "the wrath of the king" (Proverbs 16:14; Proverbs 19:12; Hebrews 11:27). Such moral courage as he exhibited:
1. Is inspired by faith in God, whose face it beholds, and on whose might it relies.
2. Consists in the fearless fulfilment of duty, whatever consequences it may involve - the loss of friendship or other earthly good; the endurance of bonds, suffering, and death. "None of these things move me," etc. (Acts 20:24).
3. Appears in simple, bold, direct, and unreserved utterance of God's Word (Ezekiel 33:7). At the proper moment the prophet changed his style of address; gave it a particular application, "the very life of doctrine;" and, in the name of the supreme King and Judge, arraigned the offender, declared his guilt, and pronounced his sentence. "His example is especially to be noted by all whose office is to 'rebuke with all authority'" ('Speaker's Commentary').
IV. HIS BENEVOLEST AIM. He came not only to testify against sin, to maintain the authority of the Law, etc.; but also (in connection therewith) to benefit the sinner, by:
1. Leading him to repentance.
2. Assuring him of forgiveness.
3. Restoring him to righteousness, peace, and joy (ver. 13; Psalm 51:12). Reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Proverbs 6:23; Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 17:10). Sympathy with the holy love of God toward sinners is an essential qualification of a faithful reprover of sin; and as it is God's mercy that employs agents and means for their restoration, so it is his grace alone that makes them effectual (John 16:8).
"And so wide arms
Hath goodness infinite, that it receives
All who turn to it."
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.