Nathan’s prophecy against David exemplifies a kind of wise confrontation that I believe is similar in many ways to Jesus’ parables. Consider the artfulness of Nathan’s rebuke of David’s behavior. Nathan tells a story that outrages David. In David’s incensed state he learns from Nathan that the story is actually about his own behavior against Uriah. David has lost all wiggle room to be defensive and justify his actions. David exclaims that this made-up wealthy man, who has stolen a poor man’s only lamb to show hospitality, is worthy of death. Yet David’s actions were far worse. Nathan has placed David in a state of ironically pronouncing his own death sentence. Though God wills to spare David, David will face a lifetime of domestic opposition, and the child born out of his adulterous encounter will face David’s curse through death. Could Nathan have simply told David about God’s judgement? Certainly, but David likely would not have seen God’s justice quite so plainly.
Nathan brings David through story into clear understanding of his wickedness against Uriah, Israel, and God. As God’s people today, may we remember that we are called to admonish sin when we see it in our brothers and sisters in the faith. Better still, when we admonish, may we do so wisely and artfully to win people over to understanding of their wrongs like Nathan does with David.