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 King 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.
Nathan is present at three critical points in David’s forty-year reign as Israel’s king. Each time, the prophet courageously and compassionately delivered the Lord’s messages to David under extremely difficult circumstances.
First, when David wanted to build God a temple, Nathan told him God wouldn’t allow it (2 Samuel 7:1–17). 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). Third, when David was near death, Nathan insisted that the king publicly instate Solomon as his heir when another of David’s sons, Adonijah, plotted to declare himself king (1 Kings 1:5–53).
Nathan probably approached David with a heavy heart on each occasion. How unpleasant to disappoint the king about the temple. How grievous to expose his sin. How difficult to expose another son’s treachery. Yet David’s spiritual welfare was more important than his temporary happiness, the kingdom’s security more crucial than the king’s personal feelings. Therefore, Nathan obeyed God and spoke the truth.
David accepted Nathan’s counsel each time, recognizing that God was speaking to him through the prophet. If God’s refusal about the temple puzzled David, the king still accepted the decision graciously (2 Samuel 7:18–27). When Nathan confronted David with his sin, David repented (2 Samuel 12:13–14). And when Nathan counseled the king to act quickly on Solomon’s behalf, David did (1 Kings 1:29–30).
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.
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?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of our series Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.