2. Nathan the Prophet, and King David (2 Samuel 12, Psalm 51)
The following example is often-neglected, yet proves to be one of the clearest examples of godly leadership found in Scripture. Nathan the Prophet was a contemporary of King David, the greatest king in the history of Israel. At this time, David was seemingly untouchable, the greatest leader in Israel’s history, and I imagine there was almost no one in the entire nation who would have the audacity to call out David for a mistake, no matter how horrible.
However, Nathan was among this bold minority. After David’s affair with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, Nathan was the one who boldly rebuked David for his sin. Nathan approached King David and shared a parable with him, a story of two men, one rich and one poor. The rich man had many flocks and herds, but the poor man had but one lamb. When a traveler came, the rich man did not give him one of his own animals, but he took the poor man’s only lamb and prepared it for the traveler.
This story enraged David, saying that the rich man deserves to die for doing this horrible act without pity. Nathan did not pull any punches, saying, “You are the man!" (2 Samuel 12:7), followed by: "Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.” (2 Sam. 12:9).
Nathan did what almost no one would be willing to do, rebuke the greatest king in Israel’s history for his sin, holding David accountable for his actions without fear of the consequences of calling out such a powerful man.
Nathan exhibits godly leadership by holding David accountable despite his high status. Nathan did not fear David, but rather feared the Lord, knowing that he would be held accountable if he avoided confronting David. A godly leader knows that he is his brother’s keeper, and he does not shy away from holding his fellow leaders to a high standard of godly character.
David’s repentance further exhibits godly leadership. Although David abandoned his responsibilities as king by having an affair and killing the husband of his mistress, David’s repentance demonstrated in Psalm 51 shows another essential component of godly leadership: humility. Despite his failure, David recognizes his sin, confesses his sin, and asks for forgiveness.
This is an example that all leaders must follow. We will all fail. The question is, how will we respond to our failure? I encourage you to follow the example of David, who failed in a manner more extraordinary that you will likely ever experience. Humble yourself, repent of your failure, ask for forgiveness, and move forward with your life striving for godly character in every way.
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