Summary: Our giving should not be cheap or second hand. David exemplifies the principle of giving of our selves as a part of the gift.
Giving till it costs
David’s personal sacrifice strongly underscored his humility. It was David’s humility as well as his actions that brought about the restoration he sought.
The situation was grim. But it is hard for us to imagine why it was grim. David had counted the fighting men.
For some reason, taking a census in the days of the Israelites was a spiritually charged endeavor. We don’t know why this is. God commanded Moses to take the first census and census taking after that was risky business.
Why did David take this count?
• Some think that it was an issue of pride. David was arrogant because of the size of his army
• Some think David was contemplating an Imperial conquest that was not commanded by God, that David was getting delusions of grandeur
• Some think it is an affront to the God who promised that the offspring of Abram would be unnumerable, like the grains of sand on the shore. To number them, then, was to say that God had not kept his promise
Whatever the case, in spite of the protests of his generals, David went forward with a count that took the better part of a year and informed him that he had well over 1,000,000 fighting men available to him.
But David was instantly full of remorse for what he knew was sin. God sent a plague to discipline David.
For his repentance God, through Gad the prophet, sends David to do a sacrifice. Very specifically it was not a sacrifice at the Tabernacle, but designed to mark the spot where the plague stopped.
Araunah’s threshing floor. This was a platform near a hilltop where the wheat was separated from the chaff. The place where what was true and good was removed from the useless hulls.
There are a couple of options opened to David:
He could have just told the owner of the field that he had a sacrifice to perform there and obeyed what God commanded. But David decided that he should buy the threshing floor.
When he convinced Araunah that he was determined to buy the threshing floor, he could have accepted Araunah’s offer to give him the property and everything he needed. For the most part there seems to be nothing wrong with the offer or accepting it.
There is every reason to believe that Araunah’s offer was sincere and stemmed from his love for David. David, as the king, had every right to accept the offer and to see it as his due.
But David knew this was his problem and the solution had to be personal.
So he bought everything that Araunah offered for free:
So what was accomplished in the offering that David gave to God?
He refused to allow others to take his responsibility
When he spoke with God about the plague, he said:
I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done?
The citizens of Israel had no authority either to take a census or to refuse if the King commanded. It was David’s doing through and through, and he knew it. That the people should suffer for his sin was painful for him.
In addition, he would not use gifts to raise an offering to God. Araunah had been very generous and perhaps even was feeling sorry for the king in the trouble that he was trying to overcome. But David knew that if he offered Araunah’s animals on Araunah’s property over Araunah’s fire, then he was not really taking responsibility. It would be Araunah’s offering, not his.