1 Chron. 21
Today’s reading (and the parallel account in 2 Samuel) recounts an interesting story about David, mostly presenting him in a positive light. He started off badly, giving in to Satan’s influence and, despite the objections of his advisor Joab, initiating a census to count all the nation’s men of fighting age. The problem was not in the census itself: God himself had Moses do two of them, and this is the reason why the fourth book of the Bible is called “Numbers.” The problem was that this showed that David wanted to trust in his military resources instead of relying on the Lord’s protection.
The Lord was going to punish Israel and David, and gave him a choice as to how to go about it. He refused to make the choice, but asked that he fall into the hands of the Lord, not men. He knew from personal experience that you can rely on the Lord to be merciful even in the midst of judgment, but not so much with human beings. And so the plague began.
From this point forward, David’s better aspects of his character shone through. After watching the suffering of his people, he pled with God to have the punishment fall upon himself instead of the nation. The Lord, moved by his own compassion, decided to stay the death angel’s hand, and the plague ended at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
As he was instructed by the Lord, David approached the threshing floor and offered to buy it in order to build an altar. Araunah offered not only to give the king his property, but also to provide oxen, wood, and grain for the offerings. David’s response is good model for all of us: “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
Let me be completely frank here. David’s attitude and actions in this story shame me. My idea of sacrifice usually means getting up early on Sunday morning, when I’d rather sleep in. Paying my tithe on time. Reading my Bible, and praying.
According to this passage, it’s only sacrifice if it actually costs me something. Something dear to me. Of course, everything I am and have belongs to him. I’m not my own, I’ve been bought at a price. I just wish that I lived like it.
Lord Jesus, whatever you ask for, it’s yours. Everything I am, it’s yours. Whatever I own, it’s yours. It belongs to you, twice over.
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