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The Wounds Of A Friend

I was listening to the Gospel of Luke the other day. In chapter 3, the narrator began to run off the 42 generations leading up to Jesus. I usually skip this part because it just lists names over and over and I usually zone out halfway through. However, I decided to let it ride this time. When I did, I discovered something I had never noticed before:

Luke 3:31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which

was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son

of David,

Apparently, King David had a son named Nathan. Why is this significant? Well, the Nathan who usually comes to mind with David is Nathan the prophet. David was rebuked by Nathan the prophet after he impregnated Bathsheba who was a married woman. David then set up her husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle to cover it up. So, when I saw that David had a son named Nathan, I got curious. Did David have this child before or after his encounter with Nathan the prophet? Could it be that David named his son after the very person who rebuked him?

It turns out that David had his son Nathan with Bathsheba, meaning that he chose that name after his encounter with the prophet Nathan. We know this because the prophet Nathan confronted David while Bathsheba was pregnant with their first child (who died as an infant as a consequence of David's actions). I don't believe it is a coincidence that David named one of his sons Nathan. David most likely respected Nathan so much that he named a son after him, which says a lot about David and a lot about Nathan.

A Man After God's Own Heart

One of the most well known things about David is that he was a man after God's own heart. David's choice to name his son after Nathan is a great example of this. Nathan rebuked David to his face and called him out on his actions. David could have easily lashed out at Nathan. He could have deflected or made excuses. He could have abused his kingship to harm Nathan. Instead, David chose to to take accountability for his actions. David was humble enough to receive correction. He appreciated Nathan's boldness to tell him the truth so much that he named a son after him. How many of us can say that we would treat someone that rebuked us like that?

If we're being honest, many of us get offended when we are called out on our mess. Paul understood this when he asked the Galatians, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (Galatians 4:16). Sometimes, we can perceive someone's correction as a personal attack. We view that person as an enemy instead of appreciating them like David did Nathan. We channel all of our anger to the messenger instead of addressing the real issue. David's humility is what truly makes him a man after God's own heart. He wasn't a flawless man and he had a lot of blood on his hands. However, it was David's sincerity and contrition that gave him favor. It also helped that Nathan rebuked him in a Godly way as well.

Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves

If you ever wanted to see a textbook approach on how to rebuke someone, look no further than Nathan's rebuke of David. Nathan started with a story. He told David about a poor man who had one lamb that he loved and how a rich man with many sheep took the poor man's sheep for himself. When David heard this story, he was livid:

2 Samuel 12:5-6 And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man;

and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing

shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this

thing, and because he had no pity.

In this moment, Nathan allowed David to see things from a different perspective. Nathan didn't point his finger in his face and blast him with accusation. He talked to him. He made him think. He made David empathize with Uriah without him even realizing it. Previously, David was able to disassociate his actions from Uriah the person because Uriah was a Hittite (a different people group from the Israelites). He was living in denial. However, after hearing the parable that Nathan told him, David judged himself with his own words. Once Nathan got David to see the proper perspective, he boldly told him, "Thou art the man." Nathan went on to give the word of the Lord which said that the sword would never depart from David's house.

The Message vs. The Messenger

David still respected Nathan even after he delivered that tough judgment. It shows that he was able to separate the message from the messenger. He didn't misdirect his anger towards Nathan. Even more importantly, he didn't misdirect his anger towards God. David understood that his chastisement was a result of his own actions. He didn't let it derail his faith, but instead, it brought Him closer to God.

We can learn a lot from David. His story teaches us how to grow in the Lord and move beyond our mistakes. It also teaches us how to interact with one another as a body. Nathan appears to have been a fixture in David's family. We know this because Nathan was still around when David was on his deathbed and Solomon was preparing to become king. This shows that true friends are the ones that will tell us the truth and true followers are ones who are humble enough to receive it.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy

are deceitful.

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