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. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 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. 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.” 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, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
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. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.” 2 Samuel 12:1-9.
This is the gift of the prophet on full display. He is God’s voice of Dissent in his own system. He is the counter ballance to the king, lest he become an autocratic tyrant. It is not always pleasant work. But it is the pattern throughout the old testament that God sends a prophet, sometimes an outsider, to bring correction. Some people believe this gift has “passed away,” but they are usually pastors who want to be in control. If you have no prophet, you get no correction. It explains a lot.
There are those, usually in charismatic circles, who believe the gift is for today, but limit it’s effectiveness. They use 1 Corinthians 14:3 to say that prophesying is only for “edification, exhortation, and comfort.” This ignores the clear pattern established by God for thousands of years. I have even heard, with my own ears, pastors refuse warning by saying, “touch not God’s anointed!” They say this as if they alone are the anointed one, the lynchpin of ministry, and that any dissenter is a messenger of Satan.
Dissent is important, and it has it’s place. First, you do it privately. Then, you get witnesses to join you. Then, if they still won’t listen, you call them out before the church. I never see this done any more. If David, a man after God’s own heart can be corrected, so can we.