There are many leading figures in the history of Israel who shaped the course of its life. Yahweh made distinctive interventions in the history of Israel through these leading figures. The greatness of these leading figures did not consist in their exclusive talents and abilities, rather the history of Israel recognises them as great because of the role played by them as Yahweh’s instrument. This essay will concentrate on two such leading figures. The first half of this essay will concentrate on prophet Nathan and the second half on King Jehu.
In Hebrew ‘natan’ mean, “[the God] gave” or “He gave”, this was a common name in Israel. Old Testament presents prophet Nathan as a spokesman of Yahweh celebrated for his courage and fearlessness. Nathan was the court prophet of King David, who had great concern for the Davidic dynasty. He was a “trusted adviser to king David”.
Nathan makes three prominent appearances at three crucial junctures of David’s life. “1. He delivered the dynastic promise to David.
2. He confronted David about his sin involving Bathsheba and Uriah. 2. He intervened on Solomon’s behalf in the struggle for succession to David’s throne.”
THE FIRST APPEARANCE
II Samuel 7:1-17, give us the account of the first appearance of prophet Nathan. (Its parallel in 1Chr 17:1-15). Nathan appears here without any prior warning, without any introduction. The absence of any data on the origin of Nathan and his sudden appearance in David’s life, that too, only after David had established himself in Jerusalem raised the question in the scholarly circle, “Whether Nathan was Jebusite of Jerusalem?” But there are no substantial proofs for this argument. Nathan encouraged King David, when he consulted him about the building of the temple for Yahweh. Nathan’s encouragement in II Samuel 7:3 was based on his own authority. But Yahweh over ruled his authority and expressed a different desire that it is not David but his son Solomon will build the temple for Him. McKenzie notes that this “oracle is built around a play on the word, ‘bayit’, ‘house’ which means both a temple and a family.”
The above appearance of Nathan was an important appearance because it is where Yahweh promises an eternal kingdom to David through Nathan. “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.” II Samuel 7:16. Its importance could be realised from the fact that it is the earliest statement of an eternal dynasty that served as the foundation of ‘Messianic expectation’.
It should be noted here that Nathan uses the classical prophetic formula, “Thus says Yahweh” (vv 15, 17) in his oracle.
THE SECOND APPEARANCE
The next appearance of Nathan was his famous confrontation with David in II Samuel 12:1-25. When King David strategically got rid of Uriah by assigning him position at the forefront of the battle, so that he could marry Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, Nathan confronted David of his unbecoming behaviour for adultery and murder. To convict David, Nathan used “a fictional legal case.” (II Samuel 12:1-6). David grew furious hearing the atrocity of injustice in the fictional case presented by Nathan and said, ‘the rich man should die, because he did this thing and because he had no pity’. “You are the man” replied Nathan(II Samuel 12:6-7). Nathan, “reminded David how much he had achieved with the Lord’s help; yet he had done evil in the sight of the Lord who now declared that, ‘Behold I will raise up evil against you out of your own house.’(II Samuel 12:11).” David repented and the threat of his death was removed but passed on to the child born of Bathsheba. This narrative highlights the prophetic duty performed by Nathan with great courage. Nathan defended the Yahweh’s traditional moral code. He exhibits a striking boldness and authority which were characteristic of the classical prophets of the eighth...