Life of David: The Cost of Nothing
2 Samuel 24:18-25
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.
God wants to show David that pride is getting in the way and directs him to take a census of the fighting men. David sends Joab on a nine month trip to count all the men who could fight. 2 Samuel 24:10 tells us that David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men. Why was He conscience stricken? He knew that the strength of Israel came not from the fighting men or the numbers of fighting men... the strength and victory of Israel came from the Lord.
The penalty for the pride of Israel and for David ended up being a plague. Actually, God gave David a choice: a famine, fleeing for a few months, or a plague. David decided that he did not want to fall into the hands of enemies, but would rather be in the merciful hand of God. He chose the plague.
II. THE COST OF NOTHING (2 Samuel 24:18-25)
David (in 24:17) sees the people dying of the plague and knows that it was through his leadership that the people became prideful. He states that they are sheep. David understands such things given his boyhood occupation. David knows that he has led Israel on this path and he wants to correct it. David wants again to humble Israel before the Lord.
Gad, described as a ‘seer’ comes to David with instructions from God (24:19). Gad is a background character in David’s life and in 1 Chronicles 29:29 is credited with writing an account of the reign of King David. Gad tells David to go to Araunah who owns a threshing floor on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem and build an altar to God. David obeys. Verse 22 tells us that Araunah is an horable man and offers David everyting he needs to build the altar and make an offering to God.
Then we have verse 24. I told you that verse 24 is the key verse in this passage and is still the key verse even though we are not talking about giving or tithing. David insists on paying for the entire threshing floor and purchases the land for fifty shekels of silver. Verse 25 tells us that David, having purchased the threshing floor, built the altar and sacrificed to the Lord to take away his sin. We know that God was pleased with this because the verse also tells us that the Lord answered David’s prayer about the plague and lifted it from the people.
What do we see in this passage? I think that we see that our sin costs. David’s sin of pride and leading the people of Israel to pride had cost the lives of some people in Jerusalem to a plague and the cost of a threshing floor. Sin always costs something. We may think that our sin doesn’t cost us anything, but it does. Sin is serious and its affects on our lives are costly. Sin is not nothing. Sin is something we must deal with.
* We know that sin cost Adam and Eve life in the Garden of Eden
* We know that sin cost Abraham his son Ishmael
* We know that sin cost Lot his wife
* We know that sin cost Moses life in the Promised Land
* We know that sin cost Samson his eyes and strength
* We know that sin cost Zechariah his voice for a time
* We know that sin cost Judas Iscariot his life
* We know that sin cost Ananias and Sapphira their lives
Is there no hope when dealing with our sin? The Scriptures are pretty clear that our sin costs us our life and brings us death (Romans 5:12). Sin also brings us judgment (Romans 2:12). Sin earns us death and we all have sinned (Romans 6:23). David knew all of this full well. The sin of David and Israel brought death by way of a plague. The sin of David and Israel brought the judgment of God down on their heads and they earned death. Is there no hope?
III. THE COST OF SACRIFICE (2 Samuel 24:14, Mark 15)
I want you to know that there is hope. I want you to notice one other verse and the place that David placed
his hope. I want you to notice 2 Samuel 24:14. David says to Gad, "I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men." Where does the hope of David rest? His hope rests in the merciful hands of God.
Hope for us in dealing with our sins comes from God and comes in the form of Jesus Christ. See, I told you this passage was about Jesus Christ! King David lived under the old law and his hope was in relying on the blood of bulls and goats to pay for his sin. David had to build an altar and sacrifice innocent animals so that blood would pay for his guilt. David was hoping that such actions would ensure the mercy and grace and forgiveness of God. And it did... God stopped the plague that was sweeping through the city of Jerusalem.
I want to show you the innocent blood that paid for my guilt. I want to show you the innocent blood that paid for your sins. I want to show you the cost of our sin. I want to show you the cost of sacrifice. 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. Turn with me to Mark 15.
READ MARK 15:16-39
ILLUSTRATION... A. B. Earle, From: Incidents Used… In His Meetings, published in 1888
A very tender, suggestive sight can be seen in Greenwood cemetery in New York. It is the monument of a noble fireman, with his firemans cap and trumpet, and a little babe in his arms. The occasion of the monument was this: In one of those terrible fires in New York, that often burn whole blocks, several families had been burned out. It was supposed that every one had been taken from the burning building, when a half frantic mother cried at the door: "My darling child is in the building." She was about to rush into the flames to rescue her babe, when this fireman cried: "You cannot get your child." She said, "I must have my child."
The firemans heart was moved for the mother and he said: "I will get your child." At the risk of his life, he went up through the fire to the room, and sure enough there was the little unharmed babe, unconscious of its danger. He took it in his arms to bring it to his mother, and had gone but a short distance, when he discovered that the floor had fallen in. Then he knew he must die, there was no escape for him. A quick thought struck him, Can’t I save this child, if I must die? I will try. So tossing the child through the fire and smoke (as he knew about where the men were), strange to tell the child was caught and saved, while the fireman went down among the falling timber and fire, and lost his life. Would any one blame that child if it went every opportunity that offered, and got down on its knees and kissed and kissed again the cold marble feet of the fireman, and looking up in his face should say: He saved me, but he lost his life in doing it.
So who is there among us who would not go to the bleeding feet of our Saviour and kiss them, and looking up in his face, say: He saved me, but he lost his life in doing it.