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Giving Transforms: David’s Senseless Census

“I will not give burnt offerings to the LORD that cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24

King David had a problem. He decided to trust in his own royal power and took a census of his eligible fighting men. God challenged David and forced him to recognize that his military head count was an act of distrust in the Lord’s power and protection. To his credit, David was convicted and confessed the error of his ways. But what was done could not be undone. God declared punishment on the people of Israel for David’s transgression in the form of a plague, killing 70,000. David’s repentance came with a charge: to purchase a plot of land on which he could offer the LORD a sacrifice and placate his wrath and end the plague.

David found the piece of land, a threshing floor in the city of Jebus (later Jerusalem). When he told the landowner, Araunah, what he needed the land for, Araunah offered to give David the threshing floor for free. David refused the offer. For David, his offering to the Lord had to come through sacrifice. David had to pay a price, a full price, in order to make atonement for his sin and honor God. Therefore, David paid a full price to Araunah for the threshing floor, built an altar, offered the sacrifice and the plague came to a halt.

Four Key Lessons for Today

  • Sin never is confined to an individual; there is always collateral damage. David’s sin cost the lives of thousands of subjects under his watch.
  • Our confession of our sin against God and our inner repentance can be expressed in external actions. David lived out his repentance through sacrificial giving and worship.
  • When we seek the Lord’s favor or give thanks for his blessings, our offering must come at a personal cost.
  • The value of our offering to the Lord cannot be measured by its objective worldly value, but in its personal spiritual cost.

For Further Consideration

  • How do our personal sins impact the lives of those around us?
  • In what ways do we fully acknowledge our sins against God?
  • How much do we value our membership in the One Body of Christ and commensurately contribute to the life of the Church?
  • To what extent is our giving sacrificial?
  • What is the inner cost of the gifts we offer to the Lord?