The Danger of Generic Preaching

Nathan employs a terrific preaching tactic, he moves from the general to the specific.

Nathan and David could have comfortably chatted about hypothetical scenarios all day long. In fact the king likely found it to be a bit of a riveting conversation about the evil guy who steals a poor guys prized sheep. Nobody gets too upset when we make general comments. It’s when you say, “you are that man!” that you get in trouble. But without the specific statement then Nathan and David are just talking about an imaginary farmer losing his sheep. And that doesn’t change anyone.

 

“You are that man!”

I’ll confess that I’m naturally a bit of a chicken. I’m not one who loves confrontation, or who rocks the boat just to see the waves splash. And so I always get a bit unsettled when I read this interaction between Nathan the prophet and King David. Stress that “king” when you read that sentence. David has just committed adultery, has gotten her pregnant, and has had her husband murdered. Kings don’t really like it when you call them on stuff like this. But Nathan employs a terrific preaching tactic, he moves from the general to the specific.

Nathan and David could have comfortably chatted about hypothetical scenarios all day long. In fact the king likely found it to be a bit of a riveting conversation about the evil guy who steals a poor guys prized sheep. Nobody gets too upset when we make general comments. It’s when you say, “you are that man!” that you get in trouble. But without the specific statement then Nathan and David are just talking about an imaginary farmer losing his sheep. And that doesn’t change anyone.

The prophet Micah did the same thing in his day. Consider this:

Hear, you peoples, all of you;
pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it,
and let the Lord God be a witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple.
For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place,
and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.
And the mountains will melt under him,
and the valleys will split open,
like wax before the fire,
like waters poured down a steep place.

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