“Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!…Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?’” (2 Samuel 12:7a,9)
“Don’t kill the messenger!”
This expression has become a common saying because all too often those in authority do kill the messenger, either literally or figuratively. These words have no doubt gone through the head of anyone and everyone who has had to approach a powerful person with bad news or in any sort of confrontational situation. Carrying out this task takes a great deal of courage – perhaps even more so than squaring off against giants or attacking enormous armies.
Nathan was sent by God to deliver a terrible message. King David, the most powerful man in the land (and perhaps on Earth at the time), needed to be told that he had sinned against the Lord. Nathan told him so, and none too gently. He faithfully and boldly carried out the Lord’s instructions to confront and rebuke evil, despite the fact that his head might well become part of the palace’s exterior décor as a result.
Standing up for God’s truth in opposition to powerful men and women can be extremely challenging. Christians often struggle with fear and doubt over the consequences of doing so: “Will I lose my job? Will I lose my freedom? Will I lose my life?” Many times, it seems easier to just “go along and get along” rather than sticking your neck out and losing your head by humbly pointing out that your boss has given immoral, unethical instructions – or that a government or political leader has despised God’s Word by doing evil. These people have authority over us; authority given by God. But the ultimate authority in our lives, and theirs, must always be the Word of God.
Not only was King David a very powerful man, he was also well loved by the people and – all in all – typically obedient to God’s Word. While this makes confrontation easier in some ways (he responds in repentance and contrition rather than anger and retribution), it can be very difficult to accuse otherwise “good people” of doing evil in God’s sight. Because we respect them for their past and want to protect their reputations, it can be easy to look the other way while they hurt others, harm themselves, and dishonor God.
Like Nathan, we must sometimes confront those in authority with God’s Law. We need to remind the world of the awful consequences of sin. We need to call people to repentance and invite them to live once again in God’s precepts. Then we, like Nathan, must also proclaim to them God’s love and forgiveness. Though there may be earthly consequences for the sins they have committed, Jesus’ death atones for their guilt and brings life and renewal.
Nearly every one of us is in a position of authority in one aspect or another. Ask God for the humility to meekly accept the censure of God-fearing people who confront you with your own sins. Like David, we can humbly confess, “I have sinned against the Lord,” and hear God’s reply; “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die” (2 Samuel 12:13). Although our sin warrants eternal physical and spiritual death, the High King of Heaven has pardoned our guilt. Therefore let us ever walk with Him, striving daily to more closely follow His commands.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the courage to stand up for Your Word, even when it may be difficult or dangerous to do so. Give me the joy of proclaiming Your forgiveness and salvation to all those who come before You in faith. Give me the grace to humbly acknowledge my sin before others and to look to You alone for redemption, through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.