A Friend Indeed
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6
American author Elbert Hubbard first defined a friend as “someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” God blessed David with two such friends. During David’s youth, King Saul’s son Jonathan befriended him and faithfully supported David throughout his exile.
Years later, when David was king, God gave him an equally valuable friend in the prophet Nathan. He courageously and compassionately delivered the Lord’s messages of refusal and rebuke to David under extremely difficult circumstances.
When David wanted to build God a temple, Nathan told him that God wouldn’t allow it (2 Samuel 7:1-17). The refusal may have puzzled David, but he graciously accepted Nathan’s words. Some time later, Nathan presented King David with something much more painful than a refusal; he exposed David’s sins–his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 12:1-12).
Nathan probably approached David with a heavy heart on both those occasions. How unpleasant to disappoint the king about the temple! How grievous to expose his sin! Yet King David’s eternal welfare was more important than his temporary happiness. Therefore, Nathan did what God commanded him to do and spoke the truth.
Amazingly, King David accepted Nathan’s rebuke as humbly as he accepted the message about the temple. Often the tone of a message rather its content makes the most impact. Nathan declared that David had “despised the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes”(2 Samuel 12:9). But I believe his words were laced with grief and compassion rather than disdain and judgment. David’s repentant response demonstrated that Nathan spoke the truth in a loving manner (12:13).
We all need a Nathan—a friend who can speak even the harshest truths in words that convey God’s love and compassion. A friend whose primary loyalty is to God and His word is the friend whose loyalty can be trusted.
Do you have a Nathan in your life? Are you a Nathan? May God give each of us such a friend. May He also enable each of us to be that kind of friend.
To learn more about David’s friendship with Jonathan, read 1 Samuel 18:1-4, 20:1-4, and 23:13-18. What do these two men teach us about godly friendships?
Nathan remained a trusted advisor throughout David’s life. What was his role in the events of 1 Kings 1:11-40? Why do you think he intervened on Solomon’s behalf? (See also 1 Chronicles 22:6-10).
David and Bathsheba named one of their sons Nathan (1 Chronicles 3:5; 14:4). The Bible doesn’t say anything else about that son until he is mentioned in Luke 3:31. Why does Luke mention him? Why is that significant?
What are the characteristics of a godly friend? Consider what David’s son Solomon wrote about friendship in Proverbs 17:17, 22:11, 27:9-10, 17. What kind of friend are you?
Denise K. Loock