The Prophet Series: Nathan

Posted: Sat. Sep, 17 2016

Prophet series: Nathan


Nathan was an eminent Hebrew prophet during the reigns of David and Solomon. He lived until the late stages of Solomon's life and so must have been much younger than David. Unlike Samuel, we are not given much detail on his birth and upbringing and he appears suddenly at the time when David, after having rest from his many wars, decides that he will build a solid temple for the Lord. The year is 1043 B.C. 2SA 7:1-5 Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains." And Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you." But it came about in the same night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, "Go and say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord, Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in?'"

After a vision from the Lord, Nathan humbly alters his first advice to the king and instructs him not to build it. The reason given, which is recorded in Chronicles, is that David had shed too much blood. God does not accuse David of violating His will by taking so many lives, for certainly David had to rid Israel of her enemies, but God did not want a man of war and bloodshed to build His Temple. The Temple was to be built by David's son Solomon who was a man who lived in peace, since after David there were no more enemies to fight. We would conclude that the reason for this is that the Temple was a place of prayer and worship and not war or strife. Much blood would be shed in the Temple, but not human blood. Only the blood of animals, which depicted the spiritual death of the coming Savior, was to be shed, and His blood made for peace and not war, and in fact resolved the war of all wars. The Savior would come in meekness and gentleness, not even breaking a bruised reed, and He would bring His peace to all men who would accept it and to the universe that would thirst for its. Blessed are the peacemakers.

1CH 22:6-10 Then he called for his son Solomon, and charged him to build a house for the Lord God of Israel. And David said to Solomon, "My son, I had intended to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'You have shed much blood, and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me. Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.'"

David is a man after God's own heart and he does not violate the command, even though deep in his heart he truly desires to build a solid house for the ark of God. Nathan therefore has a much different experience as a prophet than Samuel, who was beside King Saul, a violator of the commands of God in pursuit of his own desires.

Yet David is no angel. David's rest will make him complacent and his physically contented mind will begin to search out the desires of his flesh. When David's search falls upon a beautiful young woman bathing on a roof, which is suspect in its own right and might point to the fact that Bathsheba was not completely innocent in this history - but we are focusing on David, he had her taken and he beds her and a conception results. Upon hearing of the pregnancy, David calls for her husband Uriah who is away on the battlefield. When David cannot get him to sleep with his wife and so cover David's sin (but not in Bathsheba's memory), he then gets him drunk, hoping that he will bed his wife under the influence. When he does not and he returns to the battlefield, David has him murdered. David's cover up sufficiently snows the people but not the all seeing eye of God. Into this steps Nathan the prophet for his second appearance, 2SA 12:1-15.

The story that Nathan tells David is one of obvious injustice as the greed of a rich and powerful man seizes a lamb from a poor neighbor which was as dear to him as a daughter. David is furious at the actions of the rich man and sternly pronounces a harsh judgment upon him, but what David doesn't know is that he is the rich and powerful man, so blessed by God and who took the dear wife of a lowly, but good man, Uriah. After his judgment of the injustice David’s eyes are opened to his hypocrisy when Nathan pointedly states, “You are the man.” David confesses his sin and thus begins the reproach from God upon him.

We find that now, in the time of the monarchy, that the work of the prophet is not only to the people but to the king as well. As goes the king, generally, so goes the nation and this is exactly what Samuel warned the people would happen if they desired a king. Nathan has courage from God and doesn't cower at the king’s power or possible retribution, but then again, David is a great and humble man. The prophet shows the courage that comes from trust in God that all the prophets must have as God's messenger to a people who will so often choose their own desires above God's law.

After the death of the child that David had sired through Bathsheba, David, having recovered his fellowship with God, comforted his wife and soon she conceived another child whom they named Solomon and the Lord loved this child, which in a certain way means that God had big plans for him. God sent word through Nathan that the child would also be named Jedidiah, which means "beloved of the Lord." The Lord loves those who are His and He blesses them for His own sake. As we will see, Nathan is instrumental in ensuring that Solomon sits on the throne after David's death.

David's son Adonijah lusted to be king and attempted to take the throne. Nathan did not sit on the sidelines and watch, but entered the fray as it was Solomon who was destined to be king. Nathan advises Bathsheba to go to David and speak to him and remind him of his pledge to put Solomon on the throne. David is old and close to death and has no idea that Adonijah has made a grab for the throne. Nathan's council is sound and David arranges for Solomon to be anointed as king. Nathan, along with Zadok the priest, is given the privilege of anointing Solomon king before the people of Israel.  

We last see Nathan working with David and the prophet Gad in reorganizing the temple worship by bringing in music, which was the command of the Lord. The Lord wanted music in His temple worship and Nathan was instrumental in organizing it (that pun was definitely intended). What they did was to have Levites with cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets accompany the offerings with music. The Temple is a place of peace, worship, and rejoicing and music with meaningful words plays an important role. David was a great writer of music because he strove with God and faced the heartaches and the blessings that come with God’s plan.

Nathan chronicled the lives of both David and Solomon as did Gad and Samuel. The work of the prophet therefore was not just to teach and warn in real time but to record the works of men and God so that all generations could benefit by the witnesses who had gone before them. Nathan was a faithful prophet who was instrumental in David's recovery, in the planning of Solomon's temple, and in securing Solomon's position on the throne as the third monarch of Israel. He was blessed to have David as a king as well as to live in the peace that rested upon Israel during Solomon's reign. Thanks to his faithfulness we have the record of the lives of David and Solomon and God's dealing with them.

Love to all the royal family,

Pastor Joe Sugrue

Grace and Truth Ministries