It is written, “The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, ‘There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over because he did such a thing and had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’” (2 Samuel 12:1-10 NIV).
As a prophet of the Lord, Nathan was required to confront sin. Even if it was the king’s sin. This took courage and tact to do so. From the way that Nathan approach King David in this Scripture there are many things that we can learn as leaders, however, I want to focus on two of them.
First, King David was numb to the sin he committed when he had Uriah killed and married Bathsheba. As a spiritual leader, Nathan had to present God’s message of rebuke to King David in a manner that he not only would understand but also be able to relate to. This is why Nathan wisely told King David the story of the rich man taking away the poor man’s sheep. Nathan not only got King David’s attention but got him emotional throughout his parable. As a spiritual leader, we must know not only ourselves but those above and below us. If a believer is sinning and has grown numb to it, it is our obligation out of brotherly love to rebuke them. However, there is much to be learned from Nathan’s rebuke of King David. Maybe you will need to present them with a story and correlate that story to the sin in their life or share a biblical story that can do the same. Regardless of how you do it, it should be done in a loving manner in which they fully understand their sin and that they are convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent of it. At the end of the day, we want to help guide the lost sheep back to Christ and this is the foundation of rebuking someone properly. God must always be glorified and not us.
Secondly, we learn from Nathan that every generation desperately needs people of impeccable character and integrity to tell truth to power. We cannot be what this generation needs if we conform to the norms and customs of this world. This is why Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” If we live a truly “changed” life, we would be repelled by sin, regardless of who is committing it. God is calling us to stand firm in our faith in Jesus Christ and the truth of His gospel with the world. If we see our neighbor sleeping in their house and it is on fire while holding a hose and a speaker, we have wronged them more than that fire ever could. Like Nathan, we must be bold and tactful to get God’s truth to them. God needs us to scream “danger” while giving it our best to put out our neighbor’s fire. He wants us to rescue them and help guide them to a safe and loving place. Whether or not this can happen will be determined by your faith and trust in the Lord.
Now that I have shared these two lessons that I have learned from this Scripture, it is up to you to apply them into your life and be a Nathan. Be bold, be tactful, be faithful, and always stand firm in God’s truth. We owe God at least that much. No one said it will be easy, you may be yelled at or even lose a relationship over rebuking someone. However, at the end of the day, we all need to do our part to make our world a better place and it must start with us cleaning up our houses. So, leaders, look at the mirror and see if you are the one numb. It starts with our repentance and change. We have this choice in life. We cannot give what we do not have.