David said, “I won’t give something that costs me nothing.” This was after repentance of his sin. That statement was made after thousands of people died because of his sin.
King David made a mistake – and it was a big one. He sent Joab to count the people “from Beersheba to Dan.” There were other times God wanted His people to be counted, but not this time.
Because David did not seek the counsel of God, there was promised punishment. Only, God told David he could choose the punishment. And David decided to let God choose. He wanted to be in the hands of God rather than the hands of his enemies.
The cost of the mistake
When God sent a disease that killed 70,000 people, it was because of David’s sin. (How fair is that?!) God allowed David to see the angel with his sword stretched toward Jerusalem. That is when David and his men bowed to the ground and David confessed,
I am the one who sinned and did wrong. I gave the order for the people to be counted. The people only followed me like sheep. They did nothing wrong. Lord,my God, please punish me and my family, but stop the terrible disease that is killing your people.
In this account, God uses Gad, David’s seer, to communicate with David. Gad tells David to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite. The death of the Israelites did not cost David much because it did not affect his family. He could have felt, “My disobedience costs me nothing.” Yet, the affect on his people was profound. Not only that, David suffered from guilt (as well he should have.)
The price to pay
David visits Araunah and asks to buy his threshing floor. By this time, Araunah, along with all of Israel, is frightened and afraid. He wants nothing other than to have this disease stopped.
Araunah replies, “Just take it! You can have anything you want. I’ll even throw in the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing boards for the wood, and wheat for the grain offering. You’re the king. Just take it.”
This is when David’s true character shines through. “No, I will pay you full price for the land. I will not offer a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”
As king, David could have obtained anything he needed without cost. Here was an offer for a threshing floor – and it was free. He was not willing to build an altar to the Lord when it cost him nothing. This tells me so much about David’s true heart.
The purpose of the sacrifice was to make atonement for one’s sins. Therefore, David knew what he needed to do. He could not offer an offering that cost him nothing.
David paid Araunah for the place and built an altar to the Lord. He offered a whole burnt offering and fellowship offering. He prayed to God, and God answered by sending down fire from heaven on the altar. That is when the Lord commanded the angel to put his sword back into its sheath.
Does it cost me nothing?
Sometimes I think about that threshing floor when I’m asked to give any of the three Ts [talent (ability), time (we know what that is), treasure (money or possessions)]. It’s easy to give when I have an easy ability or an abundance of time and treasure. But when I feel depleted, incapable, and cash flow is tight, what then?
I keep coming back to this: it’s not true giving, if it costs me nothing. Giving is only genuine when it becomes a sacrifice. This is why the widow who gave so little was credited by Jesus. It cost her something because she gave out of her poverty, while others simply gave out of their abundance.
When an offering that costs me nothing is given, I haven’t really given. When it truly costs me something, that’s when what I give is true giving.
All photo credits in this blog post (including Pinterest Pin) go to DavidPadfield/FreeBibleImages.org