2 Samuel 24:18-25 The Sacrifices That God Will Not Reject
2 Samuel 24:18-25
17 When David saw the angel, he said to the Lord, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep – what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family.”
18 That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”
19 So David went up to do what the Lord had commanded him. 20 When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked.
David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”
22 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23 I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”
24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.
25 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
In this concluding section, we see David’s progress from a self-centered tyrant to a solicitude shepherd-king who is willing to die for the sake of his people. As a result, David’s intercession and sacrifice averted a divine retribution on the nation. In today’s passage, we learn that love is not self-absorbed; it necessitates expression in making sacrifices for the good of others.
Let your anger fall against me and my family – David has progressed from a self-centered tyrant, to a solicitude shepherd-king who is fitting to rule for he is willing even to die for the people. David stands between the angel of death and the city by offering himself as propitiation to put an end to the plague. Even though it appears that David is the cause of Israel’s troubles, but God has initially planned to punish Israel through the sin of David.
Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite – God, having previously relented gives instructions for an altar to be built and sacrifices to be offered at the threshing floor of Araunah. David approaches Araunah to purchase the threshing floor to build a permanent altar to the Lord. Even as Araunah offers the premise without charge, David replies, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” David implies a meaningful sacrifice involves painstaking effort and preparation.
And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped – God accepted David’s sacrifice because he is willing to give up his life for the sake of the people. God answers the prayers of one whose heartbeat resonates with His.
- Love is not an emotional state; it is about making sacrifices. To the immature, love is romantic, a quality or feeling of mystery, self-absorbed excitement, and remoteness from everyday life. Such love is self-serving and does not see the need to make sacrifices. Mature love on the other hand seeks expression in the truth and makes sacrifices towards the wellbeing of others.
David, as king of the nation has every right to acquire land using the national treasury for the interest of the nation. Moreover, Araunah is willing to provide the land as well as the animals without charge. However, for David it is not just about putting an animal on the altar; it is about the quality of the animal, how it is prepared, and most importantly: it has to cost him. God loves us to the extent of giving His only Son as a sacrifice so that He may redeem us back into His family. As beneficiaries of the mercies of God, and having received the sacrifice of His only Son Jesus Christ, we express our deepest gratitude through our service towards the church and the community. The apostle John says concerning love and sacrifice,
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him. Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 1 John 3:17-18
- We love because He first loved us. Today, we can love God and serve the community primarily because God first loved us by giving up His Son in exchange for our salvation. As a result, we are destined for the heavenly kingdom to be honored as His sons forever. However, the evidence of our salvation and blessedness is displayed through our maturity and willingness to be a blessing to the world. David, having experienced in countless occasions the protection, the favor and the mercies of God is transformed into one who is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the people. Without receiving and experiencing God’s perfect love, it is almost impossible to make an indelible impact in the world. Therefore, as Christ presented Himself as a sacrifice for our salvation, we present ourselves as a living sacrifice to save a dying world.
- An effective prayer requires a wholehearted sacrifice. Many believers repeat their prayers hoping God would meet the desires of their heart. However, the effectiveness of our prayer is not found in its frequency but in the sacrifice of wholehearted obedience towards God in the mundane things of life. David’s prayer and sacrifice is effective in averting a divine retribution on the nation. Why is David’s intercession so potent and effective? It is because of David’s impeccable love for God and for his country men expressed through his willingness to die on their behalf. The sacrifice that God is looking for is not found in animals but in the heart of David. Hence, God heard David’s prayer and accepted His sacrifice and the plague on Israel was stopped. God in the same way accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and forgave the sins of humanity because He obeyed God in being punished for the sins He did not commit. God is looking at the posture of our hearts, and not at our financial offering or the praises we uttered. God is looking at the obedience of our heart in the mundane, and not at the miracles that we performed. God is looking at the purity of our heart, and not at the biblical knowledge that we acquired. God is looking at our ability to trust Him, and not at the frequency of our prayers.
- In what way have you experienced the love of God? How do you show gratitude towards Him? Our love and gratitude towards God is displayed through our empathy for those who are poor and helpless and through our commitment towards our spiritual family in worshiping together and caring for one another.
- How do we cause our prayers to be more effective? By regenerating our hearts according to the truth and by obeying God’s instructions daily. And God will begin to meet the desires of our heart even without us praying about them. The prophet Isaiah talks about God’s willingness to answer prayers, “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24.
Dear Lord, thank you for giving yourself unreservedly for my salvation and to meet the desires of my heart. Having experienced so great a salvation, I will commit my life to your course. Fill me with your Spirit and enable me to be blessing to the world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.