Soul Food #12

March 14, 2021 | Don Horban
References: 2 Samuel 12:1-7Proverbs 1:23James 1:21Revelation 3:19-202 Timothy 3:16-17
Topics: FellowshipSinGod's WordReproof

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Soul Food #12


Last week we launched into a study on Biblical reproof. It’s the hurt that heals. And the reason we’re taking two weeks on this topic is we don’t like reproof. And our religious culture has infected all of us with the idea that, because God is love, it just follows logically that His dealings with us should always feel positive. And reproof doesn’t feel positive. Therefore, it can’t be good for us.

But, if God’s Word is true at all, reproof is good for us. Overwhelmingly good. The Biblical evidence here is so lavish I didn’t want to just rush over it last Sunday. I was amazed at the accumulated list of life-giving benefits that come from receiving the Lord’s reproof:


2 Samuel 12:1-7“And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. [2] The rich man had very many flocks and herds, [3] but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. [4] Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.’ [5] Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, [6] and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’ [7] Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul.’”

This is a fascinating story. Nathan has to expose King David’s sin in Bathsheba. But in order for David - the man after God’s own heart - to see his own sin, Nathan has to put David’s sin, at least temporarily, into another person’s life. And when David sees his own sin in the life of someone else (the rogue in Nathan’s imaginary tale) he’s enraged by it - proving we’re all somewhat blind to the same sins we hate in others when they pop up in ourselves.

The whole point of Nathan’s story is even King David has to be made ready to heed reproof. God sets up Nathan’s assignment because God wants David to respond with the same sensitivity to his own sin as he does to the sins of others. And God wants to use Nathan’s parable to do this for David because God knows nothing good is going to unfold in David’s life until he learns to embrace reproof for his sin.

We’ve all heard the saying, AThere’s no use crying over spilled milk.” And we all know the truth of that little saying. Once something is done, it’s done. There’s no point wringing your hands over something no one can do anything about. Just get over it and get on with it.

So why does God go to all the trouble of getting Nathan to confront David with his sin? It’s already done. Why bother rooting up the past? Is God just out to rub David’s nose in his sin? Is God just trying to take all the joy out of David’s life?

No. He’s trying to put the joy back into David’s life. God has nothing but a positive goal in bringing such a strong reproof into David’s life. And the text actually points that fact out: 2 Samuel 12:7“Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul.’”

Don’t miss the point in these words. This is not just God’s way of reminding David who’s boss. That point certainly is good for all of us to hear freshly from time to time. But there’s more here than just that. God is pointing out a purpose that He has for David – “Remember, you’re not just king by accident. I put you here for a purpose. But that purpose is never going to be filled on the rebellious path you’re taking now. You are heading for disaster if you continue in rebellion. I have so much more in mind for you than this!”

That’s the goal of realized reproof in my heart and yours.


Proverbs 1:23“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”

Here is one of the great, life giving promises in the whole Bible. I know of no other verse that so plainly spotlights the sheer blessing of hearing God’s word of reproof. In fact, this verse states that ignoring reproof on any one point shuts the door to the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit on other points. Heeding reproof in one small area prepares the whole heart for further cleansing and restoration.

While He doesn’t take the time to mention reproof specifically, Jesus shows the need for it in the parable of the four soils. Some seed, says Jesus, lands on wayside soil, or the pathway. And because of this it never germinates. And what is needed for that soil to be productive, of course, is simply that it be tilled - broken up. And heeding reproof is what breaks up our hard hearts. If you want roses you have to plant them. If you want weeds you don’t have to plant anything. If you want weeds all you have to do is never till the soil.

God plants His Spirit in sensitive hearts. Stubbornness quenches the Spirit. Don’t mistake the pain of God’s reproof for the absence of the Holy Spirit. Heeding reproof makes more room for the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the ongoing transformation of your being.


James 1:21“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

As I read God’s Word, it will expose the things that need cleansing and replacing in my life. James says the only proper way of digesting Scriptural truth is with meekness and humility. The hindrance to receiving spiritual transformation from God’s Word isn’t usually ignorance. It’s wickedness.

But even that isn’t quite it. More precisely, it’s wickedness that is defended, against the light of


Revelation 3:19-20“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. [20] Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

The irony of this process, of course, is that while reproof feels like anything but a restoration of fellowship with our Lord, in fact, it is the only way true fellowship can be renewed. By dodging the pain or discomfort of reproof we might think we are avoiding any spiritual upset, but, in fact, the opposite is the case. The inner peace we experience by avoiding reproof is a deadly peace.

In these words from Jesus to the church, the heeding of His reproof is likened to the opening of a door. That’s powerful. This really isn’t a salvation verse. It’s a hearing reproof verse. These words are given to believers in the church, and they have to do with the restoration of spiritual health and intimacy of fellowship.

So remember God at the door of your life. Where do you want God to come into your life right now? Where is His healing presence needed? And when you’ve answered those questions, remember, reproof is how He knocks on your heart.


2 Timothy 3:16-17“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

We will look into the building block of correction in detail in our next study. Correction is the flip side of reproof. Reproof deals with exposing the negative. Correction deals with replacing it with the positive. But correction won’t set into our souls properly or permanently until reproof has had its proper time and place.

This whole process of heeding reproof with a humble, tender, patient heart is really at the core of the blessing Jesus attached to mourning“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Comfort follows proper mourning. That’s why in the Old Testament God actually called for the people to act out visibly the kind of heart they were to carry inwardly when reproved by the Lord. The people were actually told to put on Asackcloth and ashes.” There was to be nothing light or giddy when the Lord reproved His people.

Now, was God just trying to make them all miserable? Was He just some divine Kill-Joy, working hard to take all the fun out of life?

That’s not it at all. But God did understand, and wanted them to understand, that we all tend to make too little of reproof and consequent repentance. Don’t rush over this part of the process. Sin should make you feel bad. You aren’t likely to forsake many sins just out of duty. You will experience far more victory over self and the flesh as you linger over the damage sin does to wholeness of life, and, even more important, to the glory of the One who redeemed you by His own blood.

Like all good medicine, reproof tastes bad going down, but it brings life to your soul!