Everyone needs a Nathan in their life to speak the truth in love. A truth teller will protect you in several ways, one of which is to challenge you to find clarity. Consider this story from 2 Samuel chapter 7:
When King David was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace,a but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!” Nathan replied to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you.” But that same night the LORD said to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. I have always moved from one place to another with a tent and a Tabernacle as my dwelling. Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s tribal leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, “Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?”’ “Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes. Now I will make your name as famous as anyone who has ever lived on the earth! And I will provide a homeland for my people Israel, planting them in a secure place where they will never be disturbed. Evil nations won’t oppress them as they’ve done in the past, starting from the time I appointed judges to rule my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. “‘Furthermore, the LORD declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. 16Your house and your kingdom will continue before meb for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’” So Nathan went back to David and told him everything the LORD had said in this vision. Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and prayed (2 Samuel 7:1-18a, NLT).
The first interaction between Nathan and David was with regards to the construction of the first permanent temple in Jerusalem. David had an aspiration to build a mighty edifice to house the ark of the covenant. It would be a magnificent structure that would be a dwelling place for God and a gathering place for the people of God. On the surface, it seemed like a noble and worthwhile ambition. Yet God had something else in mind. From God’s point of view, He was the one who would build the house of David, creating a succession going forward through which the Messiah would come. David would not build a house for God, God would build a “house” for David. Nathan was sent to David to deliver that very message. When David heard the word of the Lord through Nathan, the Bible states that David went and “sat before the Lord.”
Who challenges you to sit before the Lord and find clarity?
Truth tellers like Nathan help us see God’s perspective on our aspirations and ambitions. They help us keep our egos in check and make sure our motives are pure and ensure that our priorities in balance. They probe beneath the surface of our words and deeds to help us see the inner truth about who and what we are. Tomorrow I’ll point to the second interaction between David and his truth teller, Nathan.