For some reason, it was just easier making friends when we were younger, wasn't it? We were less presumptive and more carefree. We judged people less by their status, accomplishments, and influence. We more readily laughed and were mesmerized by simple activities. Everything was a new adventure, and it was always better with a friend.
Great friendships make children better, but they make men better too. When we are young, we discover this, but as we get older for some reason, we forget.
In the Old Testament, we are very aware that David had at least one very good friend — Jonathan. The decade of David's friendship was perhaps the most challenging, and he needed this friend to help him through. But after Jonathan was killed at war, there was another friend who stepped in — Nathan. Nathan was not so much the confidant with who he had chemistry, like Jonathan. He was more the counselor who held him accountable. But still, this friendship-counselor relationship shaped him during his years as King of Israel.
These two men had three meetings that shaped our understanding of their relationship. Each has a remarkable lesson that led to an astounding impact on the kingdom and these two men.
One | The First Move: Alliance
Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent. (2 Samuel 7:1-2)
Now when David lived in his house, David said to Nathan the prophet, "Behold, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent." And Nathan said to David, "Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you." (1 Chronicles 17:1-2)
This is one of those moments two men of God in two different roles came together for kingdom impact. At the end of it all, we know that David was prevented from building the house of the Lord as his hands were bloodied by war. But this did not stop David from doing everything short of building the temple. He gathered the resources, the plans, the men, and handed the baton to his son, Solomon.
In these verses, two great men, one a king and one a prophet, form an alliance. They are allies of spiritual proportions. David realizes that he has enough. He looks up at his success, security, stock, and says — enough. And David dreams with a Nathan about what should be done solely for the Lord.
This interaction is essential because it teaches us two things. First, the importance of spiritual alliances with other Christian brothers. Second, the power of two men discovering the futility of their fading glory and the importance of seeking God's glory.
Two | The Second Move: Confrontation
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. And the Lord sent Nathan to David. (2 Samuel 11:27-12:1)
Well, friendship is not always easy. There are hard things we face and need to address. This moment has to be one of the top five ultimate friendship confrontations of the Bible, trumped only by Jesus' strong words to Peter — "Get behind me Satan."
The context of this confrontation is the adulterous sin of David with Bethsheba and the consequential cover-up. This one sin led to many others and a massive cover-up that David thought he was beyond. However, he had not pulled one over on God. So God instructs Nathan to confront him about the sin and cover-up.
This is never an easy moment for friends. But this is what great friends do; they care enough to guide us toward Godliness and away from catastrophe. They want what God wants for us and have the courage to tell us "no" and sometimes "get right with God." Nathan does that here in 2 Samuel 12. It's worth reading.
And just when you think David could win any and every battle, this was one he was sure to lose. It's a disappointing moment for David, but one he handles well. His response to Nathan is this — "I have sinned against the LORD." (2 Samuel 12:13)
Friends have power. Never underestimate the importance of the care-frontation.
Three | The Third Move: Counsel
Then Nathan said to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, "Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king and David our lord does not know it? Now therefore come, let me give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. (1 Kings 1:11-12)
Toward the latter part of David's life, David's son Adonijah planned to forcibly take the kingdom from his father and set himself up as king. Nathan rushed to David with Bathsheba at his side to inform him of the betrayal and discuss options as his joint counsel.
There is no doubt this is not an easy moment for all three of them — a king and father is betrayed, a wife and mother is at odds, and a friend and a counselor feels concern for the future of the nation. But here is the best part, they are in it together. Seeking God, his wisdom, and the best path forward, they are not alone. The resolution is to appoint Solomon as king and set up him quickly before Adonijah takes his move too far. And the plan works, but the results are still disturbing and heartbreaking. Eventually, Solomon has Adonijah executed.
We all need a man like this in our life. A man with who we have a spiritual alliance, who can confront and counsel us. David was better for this. From this relationship came the Temple of the Lord, the repentance of a King, and the establishment of King Solomon for the next generation. Just consider the impact of not having a Nathan in your life. You might be missing out on something amazing. Don't delay — get spiritual counsel today. Amazing benefits await.
Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.
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