This is usually a positive statement, but it didn’t turn out that way for David. I’m sure you are familiar with the clever confrontation Nathan the prophet had with Kind David in 2 Samuel 12:1-15. I’ve been reflecting on it this week. First of all, there’s a little history. We see Nathan introduced earlier in chapter 7, where David approaches him, and Nathan is able to give David a very positive word from God. So we see a good relationship already established before Nathan has to later confront David about his adultery and murderous sins.
Second, I see wisdom. Nathan approaches David with a story about two men, one rich and one poor. As he weaves his tale about how the rich man with an abundance of flocks and herds takes the one, precious lamb that the poor man owned as a family pet to feed his guest, Nathan adds some foreshadowing. When he says that this precious lamb is like a daughter to the poor man, the Hebrew for “daughter,” which actually ends the sentence, is also the first syllable for the name “Bathsheba.” Of course, David doesn’t notice because he is still blinded by his sin.
It’s interesting how God doesn’t put any velvet in the mouths of his prophets. We are so careful about sandwiching our critiques between buttery compliments, but Nathan’s word from God has thorns all over it. When David emphatically says that this evil rich man deserves to die, he is unknowingly condemning himself. Nathan then shows his cards with the pronouncement, “You are the man!” And then he just lets it roll with condemnation and the consequential penalties. Even still, after the thorns, grace is shown to David as Nathan tells him that the Lord has “put away” his sin, and he will not die.
David’s response reveals the effectiveness of God’s Word to him. He immediately repents recognizing that first and foremost, he has sinned against the Lord. We read of this encounter and we wonder, would we respond the same? David was a powerful king with many riches, and was certainly overcome with lust. But God’s Word prevailed over him. At this moment, the proper value of life, power, family, and possessions were put back into place. When Nathan tells David, “You are the man!” do we hear the condemning echo? “You are the man, and you are the man, and you are the man!”
Also, we may wonder if we are faithful to God’s Word enough to take the velvet out of our own mouths when a friend is caught in sin. Or do we let fear rule our hearts? Complacency? Do we even have established relationships that give us the trust to talk to someone’s conscience? Do we pray for wisdom on how to address the issue, or do we just throw Scripture in their face? We might not be prophets in the same sense as Nathan, but we do have a loving responsibility to encourage and exhort one another in the Word. And we have the written revelation of God’s Word to us by the final Prophet (Heb. 1:1-3).
But, we don’t. Not as we should. We all condemn ourselves, just like David.
As I was sitting under the preached Word this Sunday, my reflections on David and Nathan came spearing back to me as I heard my pastor preach on the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. What is amazing is that the innocent, holy, Jesus Christ condemned himself to the death David and the rest of us deserved by doing what David or we couldn’t do–identifying himself. Instead of a Nathan, Jesus had some sleepy disciples and a Judas. As his betrayer leads a whole band of soldiers, chief priests, and Pharisees with weapons toward Jesus, they don’t find a dangerous, defensive opponent. The unarmed Christ approaches them, asking who they seek. They are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the man. And then he said the very words that we could not say, “I am.” This revelation of himself caused the angry crowd to fall back to the ground. And although his words, as the Ego eimi, condemned them all to death (John 8:24), the holy Son of God then took on himself my sin, your sin, and all of the sin of everyone his Father entrusted to him, straight to the cross. Because of this, David, and me, and you, can actually have eyes to see that we are the man, and he is the great I am.