Was Nathan A False Prophet?

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It is written:

2 Samuel 7:1-13-Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around, 2  that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” 3  Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” 4  But it happened that night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, 5  “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? 6  For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. 7  Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’ ” ‘ 8  Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. 9  And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. 10  Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, 11  since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house. 12  “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13  He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Was Nathan the Prophet wrong to encourage king David to build the Temple?

We are told in 2 Samuel 7:3 that Nathan encouraged the king to pursue building the Temple for God, yet God informed Nathan later that this was to be built by one of David’s descendants.

What shall we make of this?

First, it is important to realize that God had demonstrated in numerous ways that He was with king David.

1 Samuel 10:7-And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.

1 Samuel 16:13-Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

1 Samuel 18:12-Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul.

1 Samuel 18:28-Thus Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him;

It could be that because Nathan knew that God was with David, he believed that David’s plans to build the Temple were inspired of God (until God told him otherwise).

Second, not everything that a Prophet said or did was necessarily inspired of God. Prophets of God often did and said things which were not truly of God. Sometimes there was a difference between the words of a Prophet, and the Word of God through the Prophet!

For example, when Samuel the Prophet was searching for the next king of Israel who would be anointed after Saul, he saw the son of Jesse named Eliab.

1 Samuel 16:6-So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him!”

However, what happened next?

1 Samuel 16:7-But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Thus we see that not everything a Prophet said was necessarily said by inspiration. Indeed, when the Word of God is given by inspiration there are signs of such in the text. The words of John Gill are informative here:

“He perceived it was in his heart to build an house for God; he knew an house was to be built at one time or another, by some person or another; he knew it was a good work, and fit for a king to do, and might think this was a proper time any, he being at leisure, and therefore encouraged him to it: but inasmuch as the time when and the person by whom this was to be built were not pointed out particularly in the word of God, David and he should have consulted the Lord about it; in this they erred, and for which they were tacitly reproved; for, as the event shows, this was not the time when, nor David the person by whom, it was to be built. Nathan said this as a pious and good man, in a private capacity, not as a prophet, or under a spirit of prophecy; for prophets did not always speak under such an influence, but, as private men, said some things ignorantly and through mistake; see 1Sa 16:6.” (John Gill, Commentary On 2 Samuel 23:2 (E-Sword Edition)

Third, God clearly and unmistakably intervenes in declaring to David through Nathan that Solomon is to be the one to build the Temple:

1 Chronicles 28:3, 9-10-But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.’…As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. 10  Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.”

We must be careful to read the Scriptures as they are presented to us, and do our best to remove our preconceptions that can keep us from understanding the text.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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