Summary: For David, the cost of sacrifice was 50 silver shekels and an altar to God. For us, the cost was the life of Jesus Christ
Life of David: The Cost of Nothing
READ 2 SAMUEL 24:18-25
I have to admit that when I began looking at this passage, I had in mind to preach on giving. The passage that we just read has a great example of giving and sacrifice for the sake of God. God directs David to go and build an altar for worshipping Him. David obeys and goes to Araunah who owns the site that God indicated and asks to build an altar. Araunah is humble and offers his threshing floor and animals to David for free that he might obey God. Then you have verse 24 which is the key verse in the passage... 2 Samuel 24:24 says, "But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them." David puchases the land, builds the altar, offers the sacrifices, and God hears David. The emphasis I was going to make is that if we are willing to sacrifice for God (and true sacrifice will cost us something), that God will honor our sacrifice and will answer our prayers and will provide for us. Somehow I think that message is there in the verses (somewhere), but that is not really what the passage is about.
The passage is about Jesus Christ.
To explain what I mean, we must reflect a little on the passage before 2 Samuel 24:18-25 and get our bearings on some of the things that are going on in David’s life and in the life of Israel. We need to know what has led David to this threshingfloor and why he wants to build it. It will all connect with Jesus Christ, I promise!
I. THE COST OF PRIDE (2 Samuel 23:8-24:17)
The first thing we see in looking back in 2 Samuel 23, is a wonderful account of David’s mighty men. David was a king that had been blessed to surrounded himself with mighty warriors. The verses tell of Josheb who "raised his spear against eight-hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter" (2 Samuel 23:8). The verses tell of Eleazar who stood his ground when Israel’s army retreated and he "struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword" (2 Samuel 23:10). The verses tell of Shammah who did not flee like the rest of Israel’s army, but "took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down..." (2 Samuel 23:12). The verses record the names of thirty-seven such brave men that surrounded David and brought victory after victory in military campaigns. These men performed great exploits (2 Samuel 23:20) and became famous for their abilities in battle.
The last verse of 2 Samuel 23 tells us that "there were thirty-seven in all." The first verse of chapter 24 comes as a surprise... at least it comes as a surprise for me. Verse 1 of chapter 24 tells us that the Lord is angry with Israel. Huh? Did I miss something? Did we not just read of the mighty warriors defeating the enemies of God? It says over and over in that passage that the Lord brought victory through these men to David and the people of Israel. So, what would God be angry about? What had Israel done or not done? Was their an attitude that was sinful?
I think that Israel’s issue was the same as olympian Lindsey Jacobellis. First-time Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis of the U.S. distinguished herself as the top women’s rider in snowboard cross over the past two seasons. And she appeared to be the best rider in the Olympic debut of her sport at the 2006 Games. Jacobellis had a sizable lead in the final race of the competition last week, and so decided to attempt a flashy grab move as she sailed over the last jump of the course. As she landed, however, her board caught an edge and she skidded down the hill on her back. While Jacobellis scrambled to get back on the course, Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden passed by and crossed the finish line first to claim the gold. Jacobellis settled for silver. What is the issue? She got excited. She got carried away. She was having fun. Perhaps she took her eyes off the finish line and the goal. Perhaps it was a little bit of pride.
I think that pride was the issue God was having with Israel. The mighty men of Israel had been having success after success in battle that they forgot who it was that was actually giving them the victory. 2 Samuel 23 tells us that the Lord brought about a great victory in verses 10 and 12. After that, the Lord and His credit are lost as the passage tells about the exploits of the mighty men. I think Israel as a whole, these men, and perhaps even David were becoming prideful and leaving God out of the equation.