The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:1–7, NIV 1984).
My Musings – “[Expletive deleted] Steve [Jobs] always gets it right,” barked Andy Grove, Intel’s Legendary CEO. “Nobody is always right,” I [Kim Scott] said. “I didn’t say Steve is always right, I said he always gets it right. Like anyone, he is wrong sometimes, but he insists, and not gently either, that people tell him when he’s wrong, so he always gets it right in the end.” (Kim Scott, “Radical Candor”).
I suppose that nobody likes to be told they are wrong. But when they are, they would probably rather be told they are wrong in order to make it right in the end. It takes courage to confront, and humility to accept it. And that is the right recipe for accountability.
I imagine that it took some degree of courage for Nathan to confront David about his affair with Bathsheba and Uriah’s ordered murder. He was the king, after all. Even if he had a close relationship with David and even though it was God that sent him. And it took humility on David’s part to accept the rebuke and repent. He was the king, after all. Not a lot of humility in seats or power. I suppose that is why God called David a man after His own heart. “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29, NIV 1984).
David would never have found “rest for [his] soul” if he had not accepted the rebuke and repented. But he had an accountability partner in Nathan that “[told] him he’s wrong.” As a result, David was able to “get it right in the end.” There were consequences, of course. The child conceived in sin died. There usually are consequences when one does not get it right in the first place. Perhaps not as severe as the death of child. But we’ve all been there in some fashion, because “nobody is always right.” While “to obey is better than sacrifice [repentance]” (1 Samuel 15:22, NIV 1984), not repenting is worse by far.
My Advice – We all need accountability, because we frequently get it wrong. That’s why we need to regularly and faithfully attend church. Not just to blend in, but to have relationships. Partners in accountability. Be accountable to someone, before you are called to accountability by God. Find your Nathan[s].
Postscript – Steve Jobs has been described as a self-proclaimed Buddhist, atheist and as someone who believed in a higher power which he described as Consciousness. But in a recent biography, the author wrote, “I remember sitting in his backyard in his garden one day and he started talking about God. He said, ‘Sometimes I believe in God, sometimes I don’t. I think it’s 50-50 maybe. But ever since I’ve had cancer, I’ve been thinking about it more. And I find myself believing a bit more. I kind of – maybe it’s ’cause I want to believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear. The wisdom you’ve accumulated. Somehow it lives on.’ Then he paused for a second and he said, ‘Yeah, but sometimes I think it’s just like an on-off switch. Click and you’re gone.’ He paused again, and he said, ‘And that’s why I don’t like putting on-off switches on Apple devices.'” (Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson).
My hope is that someone he trusted told him where he was right and where he was wrong. And that as always, he got “it right [before] the end.”