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Nathan served as a prophet of God during the reign of King David and King Solomon. When King David wanted to build a house for God, he told Nathan about his plans. Nathan at first encouraged David to move forward with whatever plans he had. Yet that night the Lord spoke to Nathan and gave him this message for David: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12–13). Nathan shared this with David and the king put his plans for the temple on hold and responded to God’s guidance with a prayer of gratitude.
The second recorded meeting between David and Nathan is recorded in 2 Samuel 12. Nathan confronts David regarding his relationship with Bathsheba and concealing of their affair. The Lord had commanded Nathan to tell a story of a rich man who took and killed a poor man’s only lamb. David was angry at the injustice (verses 5–6). Nathan then answered, “You are the man!” (verse 7). David had blood on his hands. He was guilty of killing Bathsheba’s husband as well as committing adultery. God brought judgment upon David for his sin, including the death of the child born as a result of this adultery. However, David deeply and sincerely repented, and was was forgiven.
The third meeting of the king and prophet occurs in 1 Kings 1, near the end of David’s life. David’s son Adonijah sought to take over the kingdom. Nathan, who was not part of the plot, came with Bathsheba to King David to discuss the situation. Upon hearing of Adonijah’s treachery, David appointed his son Solomon as king. Nathan and Zadok the priest then anointed Solomon as king and Adonijah’s supporters disbanded (1 Kings 1:45, 49).
In addition to serving King David, Nathan also wrote what are called the records of Nathan the prophet (1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29) that detailed the events of David’s and Solomon’s reigns. This lost writing was likely used as a resource in the writing of 1 and 2 Chronicles.
Nathan the prophet was a blessing to King David. He was a close, trusted friend who spoke truth to David, even when that truth was difficult to hear. He was loyal in his service to the king and faithful to God and His Word. These are all important traits to possess in any friendship. It is interesting that David and Bathsheba later named one of their sons “Nathan” (1 Chronicles 3:5).
In His service,
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