The Prophet Gad
John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
For many believers there might be an enquiry as to who was the prophet Gad. Whilst we may be familiar with the name as one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the man who forms the basis of this simple study may well be unknown. In general terms, he is one of those people who appear on the pages of scripture and then disappear again. Yet, while he occupies little in the way of space, clearly he had a role to fulfil and a work of the Lord to do. In modern terms, we would never have heard of Gad, never have seen his name in a magazine, and never have appreciated the contribution he made in his day. However, the Spirit of God has left us the record of the man and his mission for the Lord, and there is much that we can learn from it.
It is remarkable that scripture tells us nothing about the man. It tells us what he was, King David’s seer, but nothing about his parents, his family, his tribe, or where he was from within the land of Israel. He remains a mystery. He appears, fulfils his role, and disappears as he had come.
As far as we know, he did not come from a famous line of seers, prophets, rulers, or leaders. There seems to be nothing about his family that would draw the comment of the writer of scripture to indicate that he came from ‘famous stock’.
I would suggest that there is something of practical significance in this lack of detail. We do not need the advantage of godly parents, or the influence of a godly home to be active in the Lord’s service. We do not need a wealth of godly heritage upon which to draw. What we need is a willingness, like Gad, to be used of God. He has a work to accomplish in our hearts and lives. We do not know much about who Gad was but we do know what he achieved for God.
When we write of Gad’s appearance we are not interested in his physical characteristics. It is the timing of his emergence that is of importance, from two different aspects. We should notice that this was:
A time of change
1 Samuel chapter 25 verse 1 records ‘And Samuel died’. The significance of that death was great. The spiritual guidance that Samuel had given to Israel and to its king would be lost – he was no longer available to give that guidance. As the day of his death would be near in chapter 22, it is reassuring to know that though Samuel is about to be taken, God still has his men in place. Whether Gad was one of the prophets under the tutelage of Samuel at Ramah is conjecture. However, what we do know is that as Samuel is taken so Gad emerges as the man prepared to do a work for God.
Is there a challenge for believers today? Men of God are being taken from us. Are we prepared to rise to the challenge of doing a work for God that now needs to be done? While we may not be able to ‘fill the shoes’ of those who are taken we can seek to exercise the gift that God has given us for His glory.
A time of hardship
‘Abide not in the hold; depart’, 1 Sam. 22. 5.
Gad did not arrive on the scene at the most propitious of moments in David’s experience. David was being pursued with vigour and venom by King Saul. Later in the chapter we discover that there were spies who were prepared to betray David to Saul, for status and position in Saul’s kingdom. In the following chapter the betrayers are numerous; fearing the king and his potential for retribution, many are prepared to deliver up David.
At such a time it was a serious risk to be found as a spiritual guide to David in a land that was in fear of Saul. Yet Gad was not to be intimidated by Saul, or any of his people. He was God’s messenger with God’s message to which he would be faithful.
It is not a popular thing to be seen as a Christian today. However, are we prepared to be God’s messenger with God’s message, desiring to be faithful to Him? In some countries that may entail a cost far higher than many of us will ever be asked to pay!
Again, his message seemed to be twofold.
A message of instruction
‘Abide not in the hold; depart’, 1 Sam. 22. 5.
From the first verse in 1 Samuel 22 we see Gad’s concern for the safety and welfare of David. Here was a man who had a heart for what was right and yet a tender heart that would be protective of those who were the chosen of God. In this, Gad demonstrates that balance of grace and truth that is so necessary amongst the people of God.
But then we read, ‘Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite’, 2 Sam. 24. 18.
In this chapter of great difficulty, when David was responsible for an act of folly in numbering the people, Gad has a word of instruction. It is one thing to point out what is wrong. In that sense, the task is easy. We are all deeply conscious of our short-comings and failures. The hard thing is to teach what is right. Again, we need to demonstrate the balance between the negative and the positive so that saints might learn and develop spiritually. This was the work in which Gad was faithful.
We might remember the words of the apostle Paul as he spoke to the Ephesian elders, ‘I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God’, Acts 20. 27. But, alongside that, he could also say, with feeling, ‘by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears’, v. 31. The two aspects of Paul’s ministry went together.
A message of rebuke
‘The word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad’, 2 Sam. 24. 11.
We should not underestimate the seriousness of the task. Gad had to deliver a message to the king detailing the choices that God was to give him – painful and costly choices of judgement as a result of David’s sin. Yet we read, ‘So Gad came to David, and told him’, 2 Sam. 24. 13. He did not shun his responsibilities. He did not seek to ‘water down’, or compromise, the message, but delivered it as God had instructed him.
There may be times when the message is not popular, and the consequences potentially difficult, but we have to stick to the word of God and carry out what His word would teach. Here is the mark of a faithful man.
‘And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets’, 2 Chr. 29. 25.
This reference in 2 Chronicles chapter 29 is to the reforms instituted by King Hezekiah. The far-reaching nature of those reforms is indicated by the reference to David, Gad, and Nathan. No previous king had brought about such a revival as this one.
But our focus is not upon Hezekiah but upon Gad. This reference tells us the nature of Gad’s work. It stood the test of time and judgement in respect of its faithfulness to the word of God. The benchmark of truth in the lives of the kings of Judah was that established by David, Gad, and Nathan. That’s quite a testimony and quite a challenge to all our hearts! What will we leave for future generations?
But then we should also notice Gad as a writer, ‘Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer’, 1 Chr. 29. 29.
Gad left more than a verbal legacy of his work for the Lord. He put the truth on record. Clearly, not everyone is a writer. Neither would we suggest that it is everyone’s gift. However, it is sad to think that as many brethren have left us for glory we have so little of their ministry in written form. While we revelled in their oral ministry when they were with us, there is nothing of that gift of exhortation or exposition from which a rising generation can benefit. Perhaps there is something here to exercise all our hearts.