Nathan – A Prophet; Not a Yes Man (1 of 3)

Focus Text: 2 Samuel 7.1-3

“Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.’ Then Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.’” (2 Samuel 7.1-3).

It seemed that David had the best of intentions, to build the LORD a house, that is. After all, David had his own luxurious place while the worship center of the Israelite nation still was housed in a temporary structure. Nathan heard David’s petition and at first, bid him Godspeed in his efforts. However, Nathan was soon to change his tune and give David the opposite instructions. What would cause Nathan to reverse his counsel and advise the king to go contrary to his expressed wishes? Let the scripture answer this question.

“But it happened that night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, ‘Go and tell My servant David, Thus says the LORD: Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’” (2 Samuel 7.4-7). For sake of brevity, we have shortened all that the Lord said to Nathan that night, but the bottom line was this: “…since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house.” (2 Samuel 7.11).

The instruction from God was clear; David was not to make the Lord a house, but rather, the Lord was going to make David a house! From nodding in agreement at first to directly contradicting the King’s own wishes, Nathan really had no choice; his character was such but that he could not help but speak all that the Lord had said – no matter who was affected, king or no king! That is why the inspired historian comments on Nathan’s actions by writing, “According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.” (2 Samuel 7.17). So from these events we come away with the sure knowledge that Nathan was a prophet and he was not a mere "yes man" for the king.

True prophets and those who echo their words must speak things that are unpopular at times; they have no choice if they are to be true to themselves and true to their calling. All men who profess to speak for God share the same responsibility! Just as Nathan realized there was all the difference in the world between his own counsel and the revealed knowledge of God, so ought we to realize the tremendous difference between “a thus saith the Lord” and “a thus saith the preacher.” Just as Nathan did, when the word of God goes contrary to our advice, our advice must change! Those who speak contrary to God’s word are not his prophets or preachers!

Questions:

1. Why did David want to build God a house?

2. What was Nathan’s original counsel?

3. What changed Nathan’s mind? How forceful was he in telling David?

4. Given the choice between the counsel of men and the counsel of God, which ought we to follow? How can we know the difference?