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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

The LORD Sent Nathan (2 Sam. 12.1)
Date Posted: October 29, 2020

David was far more than an “ordinary Joe” in biblical history. In fact, as a king, he was the “gold standard” against which all other kings were to be measured for centuries. It is not uncommon to read the history of a particular king of Israel only to have it conclude with a statement about whether the ruler walked according to David’s example or not. For this reason, we could surmise that David was “a hard act to follow” when it came to pleasing God.

Yet, in spite of this well deserved reputation, we find this statement concerning Israel’s second ruling monarch: “Then the LORD sent Nathan to David…” (2 Samuel 12.1). Soon thereafter, we also find David saying, “I have sinned against the LORD.” (2 Samuel 12.13a). As the previous chapter of the inspired record came to a close, the scribe penned these words, “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (2 Samuel 11.27). “The thing” that David had done was not just one thing; it was a series of events that are summarized in the Divine record. These events included lusting, adultery, lying, conspiracy to murder, murder, hypocrisy, and a few other “minor” sins that were needed to cover up David's deeds. Here is the question of the day: Why did the LORD send Nathan to David?

Nathan was one of God's prophets. His record before David was an honorable record, both before and after the events of 2 Samuel 11. It is absolutely obvious that Nathan’s mission in 2 Samuel 12 was to seek David’s repentance. He executed that mission with great candor and courage. The record speaks for itself. But, why would God spend Nathan’s time on one man, namely David, to attempt to bring him to repentance? Weren’t there other jobs that needed to be done? Weren’t there higher priorities on the LORD’s “to do” list than confronting David?

I wish I could say I have the answers to each of these questions, but I don’t. However, I do know something about the LORD as revealed in the Bible and about His character. I think that this insight into God’s character speaks volumes about why He sent Nathan to speak with David. The Law of Moses cannot be misunderstood when it comes to the punishment that is due an adulterer or a murderer; he was to die! Yet, when Nathan came to David he did not bring him a message of condemnation; rather, Nathan brought David a message of mercy. As soon as David confessed his sin, Nathan said, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” (2 Samuel 12.13b).

Nathan came with a “bad news – good news” story. The bad news was that David’s sin was not hidden. The good news was that God did not intend to exact the lawful penalty that such a sin warranted under the covenant of Moses. Even before the rumor mills could get cranked up, David knew that he would survive as well as the fate of his kingship in Israel. Although there were other extenuating circumstances, it seems to me that God wanted to reassure the man who had done so much for the cause of righteousness that his efforts had not been for naught. God was not going to cast David away in spite of the heinous nature of his crimes and sins. The LORD was not a rigid and passionless judge who could not be swayed by circumstances; His mercy endures forever! The fact of God's enduring mercy is found time and time again in the Psalms, a book in which David is a primary author.

Whether or not this was God's motive, I do not know. I do know “...the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (2 Chronicles 16.9). His eyes ran to David and “Then the LORD sent Nathan to David.”


1. What punishment was due David under the Law of Moses?

2. How did David respond when Nathan confronted him with his sins?

3. What does that reaction say about David's character?

4. What is the magnitude of God's mercy? What did mercy have to do with Nathan's visit with David?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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