2 Samuel 12:7-10
And Nathan said to David, You are the man. Thus said the LORD God of Israel, I anointed you king over Israel…
The proper purpose of reproof is conviction of sin. This purpose was accomplished by the words of the prophet. They were like a "two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12), the point of which was, "Thou art the man!" "If ever a word from human lips fell with crushing weight and with the illuminating power of a gleam of lightning, it was this" (Krummacher). "His indignation against the rich man of the parable showed that the moral sense was not wholly extinguished. The instant recollection of guilt breaks up the illusion of months" (Stanley). Observe that:
1. One of the most effectual means of convincing a man of sin is by setting it before him as existing in another person. "Thou art the man!" the story of whose crime has stirred thine indignation and called forth the sentence of death from thy lips. Self-interest, passion, and prejudice, that darken a man's view of his own sin, have comparatively little influence upon him when looking at the sin of another. Here the veil is removed; he sees clearly and judges impartially. For this reason (among others) our Lord "spake many things unto them in parables."
2. The force of truth depends upon the particular application which is made of it. "Thou art the man who hast done this!" (LXX.); against thyself thine indignation should be directed; upon thyself the sentence has been pronounced. It is as if hitherto only the back of the offender was seen, when, suddenly turning round, his face appeared, and David beheld himself! "Men often correctly understand a message of God without observing its personal application to them." Hence the preacher, like the prophet of old (1 Kings 14:7; 1 Kings 18:18; 1 Kings 21:19; 2 Kings 5:26; Daniel 5:22; Matthew 14:4), must directly, wisely, and faithfully apply the truth to his hearers. "'Thou art the man!' is or ought to be the conclusion, expressed or unexpressed, of every practical sermon." What is a sword without a point? "Here also is a lesson to hearers. David listened to a sermon from Nathan, which exactly suited his own case, and yet he did not apply it to himself. He turned the edge of it from himself to another. The benefit of sermons depends more upon the hearer than the preacher. The best sermon is that who hear most, but who apply most what they hear to their own hearts."
3. Every man is responsible to God for the sin which he has committed. "Thou art inexcusable, O man" (Romans 2:1), however thou mayest have persuaded thyself to the contrary. Is the man whom thou judgest accountable for his conduct; and art not thou for thine? Is he accountable to thee? How much more art thou to God? No position, however exalted, can release from responsibility to him or exempt from obedience to his commandment; no constitutional tendency, no temptation, expediency, or necessity be an adequate reason for despising it (Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 3:6).
"And self to take or leave is free,
Feeling its own sufficiency:
In spite of science, spite of fate,
The judge within thee, soon or late,
Will blame but thee, O man!
"Say not. 'I would, but could not. He
Should bear the blame who fashioned me.
Call a mere change of motive choice?'
Scorning such pleas, the inner voice
Cries, 'Thine the deed, O man!'"
4. A messenger of Heaven is always in readiness to single out the sinner, bring his sin to remembrance, and call him to account. "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel," etc. (ver. 7), "Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?" etc. (ver. 9). Every wrong done to man, yea, every sin, is a factual contempt of his commandment (Psalm 51:4). Whilst the supreme King and Judge observes it, and is long suffering towards the doer of it, he provides many witnesses, holds them in reserve, and sends them with his word at the proper moment to declare all its enormity - its ingratitude (ver. 8), presumption (ver. 9), disloyalty before him, its "intense and brutal selfishness," sensuality, cruelty, and craft. Conscience also awakes to confirm their testimony, with "a thousand several tongues, and every tongue" crying, "Thou art the man!"
5. The less expected the charge preferred against the sinner, the more overwhelming his conviction of guilt. "The further David was from thinking of a reference to himself, the greater the force with which the word must have struck him" (Erdmann). There could be no defence, no extenuation, no answer (Acts 24:25; Matthew 22:12).
6. The condemnation which one man pronounces on another sometimes recoils upon himself with increased severity. "Out of thine own mouth," etc. (Luke 19:22). "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house," etc. "For a single moment the features of the king are charged with the expression of astonishment. He gazes eagerly at the prophet like one at a loss to divine his meaning. But, almost instantly, as if an inward light had burst upon his soul, the expression changes to one of agony and horror. The deeds of the last twelve months glare in all their infamous baseness upon him, and outraged justice, with a hundred guttering swords, seems all impatient to devour him" (Blaikie). "O wicked man, thou shalt surely die!" (Ezekiel 33:8).
7. The conviction of sin is the first step in the way of restoration to righteousness. The sense of sin is the beginning of salvation. "He that humbleth himself," etc. (Luke 14:11; 1 John 1:9). "If we would judge ourselves," etc. (1 Corinthians 11:31, 32). Every man must be revealed to himself in the light of God's righteous judgment here or hereafter (Ecclesiastes 11:9; Ecclesiastes 12:14). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;