David, Nathan and Bathsheba

The Three-Fold Cord

Everett R. Turnbull & Ray V. Denslow

In the Order of the Silver Trowel the names of David, Natham and Bathsheba play a most important part. Those who have received the degree of Past Master will find in the article which follows information which may clear up some of the motions they may have as to forms and ceremonies appearing in that degree. The article is taken largely from the Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol IX, p. 176

The religious element was the dominating influence in the life of the early Hebrews. While the power of the King was everywhere apparent, after the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel had been formed, nevertheless, the priesthood were ever conniving, or working, to strengthen themselves in the affairs of the government.

This was especially true during the lifetime of David, and here we find the prophet, Nathan, the outstanding figure in the religious life of the Kingdom. Be it said to the credit of Nathan, that his selection of Solomon, to be David's son and successor, was a most wise one.

The Jewish Encyclopedia, a monumental work, and quite accurate, is authority for the following account of Nathan:

NATHAN (the given one): Prophet; lived in the reign of David. On three occasions he appears as the king's successful adviser. In connection with the building of the Temple, Nathan at first approved David's intention (II Sam. 7:4). The same night, however, the word of Yhwh comes to the prophet saying that not David but his son shall build the Temple, but giving to David a promise of the permanency of his dynasty (ib. 7:12–16), This vision and promise Nathan communicates to David, who accepts it without remonstrance. Again it is Nathan who rebukes David because of the latter's sin with Bathsheba. The rebuke takes the form of the parable of a rich man with numerous flocks who seizes a poor man's only lamb to prepare a feast for his quest. Nathan asks for judgment on his hypothetical case, and when David has condemned himself, Nathan hurls at him the stern "Thou art the man" (II Sam. 7:1–7).

The final appearance of Nathan is in connection with the recognition and anointing of Solomon as David's successor. Adonijah, the son of Haggith, sought to secure the throne by winning over the populace by means of gifts and gracious conduct and many promises. David had promised the succession to Solomon, his son by Bathsheba. Nathan advises Bathsheba to remonstrare with the king against the pretensions of Adonijah, promising to give timely confirmation to the words. The plan succeeds, and, by order of David, Nathan and Zadok the priests proclaim and anoint Solomon the successor to the throne (I Kings 1:5–39).

In addition to these passages, Nathan is mentioned in (1) II Sam. 12–25, as giving to Solomon the name of Jedidiah (Friend of God); (2) Ps. 51 (in the title); (3) I Chron. 17:2–15, which is a repetition of II Sam. 7; (4) I Chron. 29:29; and (5) II Chron. 9:29. In the last two passages Nathan is named as the historian of the reigns of David and Solomon. He is not mentioned in Chronicles in connection with the Bathsheba episode or with the anointment of Solomon. A grave at Halhul, near Hebron, is pointed out as that of Nathan, but this is doubtful, Two sons of Nathan, Azsriah and Zabud, are mentioned as princes and officers under Solomon (I Kings 4:5).

About Nathan the Rabbis are all silent, saving in but one passage, in which R. Judah remarks that the "threefold cord that is not easily broken" was the joint effort of Bathsheba, David, and Nathan to save the throne for Solomon against Adonijah (Eccl. R. 4:12). An echo of Nathan's parable of the rich man with many flocks and a poor man with but one lamb is found in Mohammedan tradition (Koran, sura 38:20–25).

History of Royal Arch Masonry Vol. 1