Nathan Was Wrong, Then He Was Right

April 30, 2018 at 3:32 PM

We tend to think of God’s prophets in the Old Testament as being correct all the time. When they truly spoke on God’s behalf, they were 100% correct. The Mosaic Law provided strict instructions that required the execution of those prophets who claimed to speak for God but in reality, spoke for themselves (Deuteronomy 18:22; Jeremiah 28:9). God had no patience for that type of thing because it directly impacted His character.

A person who claimed to be an authentic prophet but did so out of selfish ambition for material gain would often tell leaders what they wanted to hear. They did this to gain favor and honor even though their words were simply lies. A “prophet” like that was not allowed to live under the Mosaic Law.

However, there were also times when a true prophet would simply say something based on the way he felt about something, that seemed reasonable at the time. This was not the way they should have done things. In that case, the prophet could still be wrong but since he was not deliberately lying about something, God would simply show the prophet where he erred. This was not punishable by execution because the prophet did not intend to invalidate God’s actual word through lies. He offered something he felt was in line with what God wanted. Nevertheless, it was still very dangerous territory for the prophet because of the potential results of what he said and others who might obey what the prophet said.

A perfect example of this is found with Nathan in 1 Chronicles 17. One morning, King David was musing to himself and those nearby that he so wished he could build a house for God. David did not think it right that he – the king – had a beautiful palace and God still had a tent. The very idea bothered David quite a bit.

Nathan, the prophet, who was nearby heard what David was saying and responded with a simple, “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you” (1 Chronicles 17:2 ESV). It certainly seemed reasonable. After all, God had blessed David over the past number of years since before David had become king over Israel. It seemed reasonable for Nathan to conclude that God had put this very thing on David’s heart and if so, David should be encouraged to simply go for it, to bring it to pass. Surely it was God’s idea, right?

Wrong. This is a clear case of a true prophet of God being in the wrong and because of it, God had to give very clear corrective instruction to Nathan so that he could go back to King David and explain it to him. Verse 3 begins with, “But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan…” and God lays out His plan. In truth, while it was a good idea that David had regarding building God a permanent place to dwell, God had some clarifications and parameters. First, God pointed out that no “house” could contain Him and also noted that in the entire history to that point of Israel, from leaving Egypt to where the nation was that day, no one ever thought of building a permanent house for God. The idea never came up because God never put it in anyone’s head.

Second, because David was a man of war with blood on his hands, he would not be the one who would build such a house for God. That responsibility would fall to his immediate son, Solomon, who would reign after him. Solomon would not be a warrior king like David his father. His hands would not have blood of war on them. His reign would be a reign of peace and expansion. Solomon would build God’s “house” here on earth.

Probably the most important point here is that God is sovereign, not David. The idea may have been a good one and it likely came from God Himself to David’s heart and mind. However, the plan was still God’s and He would bring it to fruition in His way and in His time. David was privileged to be part of it by gathering materials and God allowing David’s son Solomon to actually build the Temple.

Note verses 14-15 of 1 Chronicles 17.

I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.

There are shades of Jesus in these verses above. While Solomon would be treated as a son by God, Jesus would be God the Son, directly connected to God the Father. It would ultimately be through Jesus that a final “house” (ultimately during the Millennial Kingdom physically), would be built and once established, would remain forever (to the end of time). Because David was a humble man, though a king of a great nation, he willingly acquiesced to God through the prophet Nathan. He understood what God wanted and submitted to God’s will. Jesus would also build His spiritual house called the Church.

While Nathan was wrong in what he first told David (“Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you“), God took the time to correct him because Nathan had not spoken a deliberate lie, something he knew to be wrong. He simply spoke from the way he felt about the situation, encouraging the king to do what was in his heart. The problem was that Nathan had not consulted God first and because of that, made an error in judgment, one that was quickly corrected by God and relayed to King David. No real harm done.

This stands in direct contrast with the way too many people today so cavalierly say that God “said” without ever really giving any thought to honest ramifications of their words. It is way too easy today for people to say “God told me” or “God said” when in point of fact, God probably said no such thing. Certainly God leads His people; those who are committed to submitting to Him and His leadership over our lives. He most often does this via open or closed doors and will sometimes even provide an inner urging that we move in one direction or another. We need to exercise great care here though because it is too easy to mistake feelings for God’s directives. I’m of the considered opinion that much of the time, God’s will is evidenced in our lives as little steps that lead to a particular direction.

In this day and age, people speak all too often of God telling them things. I have serious doubts about that. They may be very well-meaning, like Nathan, but just like Nathan can be just as wrong. Had Nathan insisted that David go out right then and start building a “house” for God, it would have been completely outside God’s will. Yet on the face of it, would not have appeared to be wrong. I mean, after all, David was only trying to honor God, wasn’t he? His heart was in the right place, correct? He loved God and wanted Him to have a dedicated, special, permanent place of worship. To him, it “seemed right” that he should undertake this endeavor. The idea was good but he was not the man to make it physically happen.

Had David pushed ahead, he would have clearly been outside of God’s will. It would not have been blessed by God at all. Quite the contrary. Nathan, if guilty of anything, was guilty of going by the way he felt as opposed to the concreteness of God’s as yet unrevealed will, ultimately revealed through His Word. Both leaders failed to fully comprehend God’s will at that moment at first. Yet, they were also both humble enough to be corrected by God’s loving hand.

Nathan did not deliberately lie to David about building God’s house. He honestly thought that it was a great idea and said so. It was along the lines of someone encouraging someone else to do something that sounded like a great idea at the time. Should Nathan have known better? Yes, but if we read the text carefully, he was simply telling David that God would bless him (David) if that was God’s will. After God actually spoke to Nathan, revealing His will, Nathan went back to David and clarified things perfectly.

Folks, it is extremely important that we refrain from telling other people that “God said.” When we do that, we are placing ourselves in front of another person as though we actually represent the mind of God. That is a very dangerous place, especially if we are wrong. There is nothing wrong with encouraging people to seek God, to pray that God reveals His will for them (and He wants to do that!) and of course to study His Word that truth might be revealed. It is another thing to stand in the gap as a prophet of old and pretend to know God’s mind on a matter.

I’m reminded of this weekly. It is easy for me to be an armchair quarterback where other people are concerned regarding God’s will for their lives, but in reality, I’m not in their shoes. I’m also not talking about moral wrongs or rights. Those things are obvious (or should be), for all Christians. I’m talking about the process that people go through to determine God’s will for employment, education, finding a church, a mate, etc. These things are sometimes not easily answered because God will often show His will in stages so that we do not run ahead. It is for our benefit and if I am not directly involved in that person’s life, how can I accurately tell them what to do? Why would God reveal to me something that He has in store for someone else?

We should all read His Word daily to learn how He underscores His will. We should not hesitate to seek the wisdom and counsel from other solid, mature Christians as well. However, we should not expect them to give us the answer we seek as though they are using the Urim and Thummim of Old Testament Levitical priesthood. God doesn’t work like that anymore because we now have the entirety of His written Word. He most certainly will guide those who earnestly seek His face. It’s what He longs to do.

Be careful with those who are ready to tell you what God’s will is for your life. Again, every Christian is fully obligated to fulfill God’s moral code and with the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the means to do that available to us. There should be no question. But there are many areas that are not cut and dry, like employment, which church to attend, who to marry, and more. These things will often be gradually known and understood to those who faithfully seek His face through His Word.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, israel, Judaism, Life in America, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: , , , , , , .

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