Nathan, David’s Judo Instructor
February 23, 2009, 11:50
Filed under: Bible study

_44141875_judo_throw270-1As part of our study in repentance,  started by our study in Mark of the words of the Savior,” The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”, we studied Psalm 51 and the events that lead up to it.  It was a great chance to talk about one of my favorite Old Testament stories,  the conviction of David by the words of Nathan. 

Let me tell you a bit about Judo.  Part of Judo is throwing techniques.   There is an art here .  It is not about using brute strength to pick someone up and bodily hurl them,  it is about manipulating the opponents balance, placing yourself in the proper position, and following through.  Balance ,position, and follow through, like Golf.  In Judo we say break the opponents balance, fit- in, throw.  Just like Nathan.

Nathan was charged by God to be David’s  pastor.  What a job!  As King of Israel,  David had incredible power, but unlike a pagan king, he did not have absolute power,  David still needed to answer to God.  Most of us know the story, Bathsheba, Uriah, adultery, lies, murder.  David seems to have been alright with his sinner self for over a year.  He needed someone to give him a wake-up call,  someone to show him just how far off the mark he had fallen.  I can’t imagine there would be many volunteers.  “Go tell the King that he is a murderer and a liar and an adulterer, I will wait here, tell me how that went, will you?”  It was God that sent Nathan.  Now the Judo part.

If Nathan had walked in to the Kings chambers thumping a scroll,  or telling David he was hell bound, or  saying, “You know, David, I personally am not a murderous adulterer”, David would have had a chance for self defense,  excuse making, or to summon the guards to shut Nathan up, for good.  Nathan used good Judo.  He told a story of cruelty to a poor man by a rich man.  He painted a picture of  an innocent loved pet, plucked from the loving arms of a poor man by a mean rich man.   David was furious!  The king would bring justice and punish the wretch who would do such a thing.  His balance was broken,  and then the fit- in, Nathan set the positions up perfectly, “That man is You”.   Davids heart provided the motion for the follow through,  and David went down,  or at least his vanity and pride did, causing the writing of Psalm 51, the Hymn of repentance.  

Isn’t this a model of Evangelism?  I know somebody will post,’I was saved by a Chick Tract” , but as we are charged to do the work of an evangelist can we not emulate Nathan. First-  engage people in a dialogue that does not cause rebellion but thought, secondly – show them how they, personally,  fit into God’s plan for redemption,  follow through by providing loving discipleship.  

Isn’t this a great model for exhorting a brother or sister who can’t see the mote in their eye?  Can this not be used to get the attention of a Pastor who is in error?  Nathan did not condemn, he let David’s own conscience make the throw.  

Holyer than thou, legalistic, bible banging rhetoric did not work with David,  why do we still employ it in the church?   

Have you ever had a moment when a friend, a preacher , the Holy Spirit himself  played Nathan to your David?  Was there ever a time in your christian walk where the Lord brought your sin before your eyes in a dramatic moment?  No one ever promised you that the ongoing work of sanctification would be painless. 

Have you had the opportunity to play Nathan’s role, used as a tool in convicting some one of their sin against God?  How did it work out?  Part of the community of Christ is that we can help each other by lovingly pointing out issues that must be addressed.  Does your church encourage you to participate in each others life in such a fashion?  I am sure God gives such encouragement.

God, help us to speak like Nathan, to hear like David,  help us to correct with Love, and be corrected without resentment, all for the Kingdom of Jesus the risen Christ. 


8 Comments so far
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Twice I’ve had a Nathan-type experience. The first time was my future sister-in-law witnessing to me. I remembered feeling afterward “But I’m a good person!” The whole conversation bothered me, but not to the point of repentance. It just made me feel really bad about myself.

The second time, maybe a year later or so, was at our family church. One Sunday, the message just cut to my heart and I found myself weeping and feeling walls crumbling. Sadly, I don’t remember what was preached that day, but that is the day I was saved.

I’ve played a Nathan at least twice. One was an email conversation with a former co-worker’s daughter. I tried going the intellectual route since she was a college student and an intellectual. It fell on deaf ears (at the time). Email is never really a suitable method of evangelism for the most part.

The next time was with a former coworker who was getting married. He was receptive and wanted to talk about how my marriage was going. I took the opportunity and shared my faith. While he was not against what I was saying, he was not ready to accept the message.

In my experiences, I’ve learned that you need to tailor the message according to your audience. I think short of street witnessing, you need to get to know the person in order to tailor the message. Jesus used different methods for the people He encountered and healed. But He was God and knew the person He was talking to. We don’t have that luxury.

I agree that the Bible-thumping attack we use is not always the best approach. It’s something I need to pay more attention to myself.

Great post.

Comment by Joe

i must have missed the memo on how to properly thump a bible. i always try to approach people in a mars hill sorta way.

Comment by graceshaker

I have a book on the shelf
‘Out of their Faces and into their Shoes’ by John Kramp. Sounds like both of you are good examples of the style. So far honestly, praying for the Holy Spirit to move on the unsaved heart has been the best method I have found of evangelism.

Comment by willohroots

I seem to run into people who are already crumbling and just need someone to care enough to show them the way. When someone is that vulnerable you have to be gentle or risk destroying them.

I don’t think anyone has ever been saved because someone beat them over the head with a Bible. I think our best tool (after prayer, of course) is our own Christian walk, not some nose in the air self righteousness, but being ourselves flawed, totally imperfect human beings, who are madly in love with Jesus Christ.

Comment by Shawn W

Your post makes me think of the Way of the Master shows. Their means of evangelizing complete strangers fits this picture for me. They have people confessing with their own mouth that they are liars, adulterers and so forth and then point out that God has set a day of judgment for that very thing. It is a lot like what you have described here.

Comment by jeofurry

Shawn, People always ask why there is evil in the world and why life has pain, but it is the ones who are crumbling that seek a Savior.

Jeofurry, Those guys are right, the Law shows sin. Somehow people need to admit they are sinners, else they have no need for Salvation.

Comment by willohroots

I like the judo analogy.

Subtlty. Angles. God doing the throws, not us.

I’m not a big fan on tracts or canned methodologies.

God’s law is out in the world and it crushes people…all the time. It breaks them down. it will eventually kill us.

I try and use that. I don’t need to point out to them that if they stole a paperclip then they are a theif.

After I empathize with them over their situation; family troubles, job troubles, health troubles, whatever…I then tell them of how Someone died for them that they might be whole. That Someone knows of their troubles and that he is right there for them, that He has shed His blood for them and forgives all their sin.

This is when I speak of Jesus, when they have been brought to their knees by the judo of God’s law, in the world and in their own lives.

Then I leave it alone. I don’t press them for a “decision”. The decision was alreay made for them on the cross and in their baptisms (if they have been).

The Lord will then do what He will do. But His Word will not return void. That is for sure.

Sorry this was so long. (I hate that)

Comment by theoldadam

Be as long as you like with a comment like that. You had a lot to say, and it jived with the post.
You know, I tell people, we aren’t going to make it out of here alive, not a chance.

Comment by willohroots

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