There are many things I want to talk about from today’s reading but you lack time for me to do so. For instance, in 2 Samuel 24, it is God who, in anger, incites David to take the census, thus leading to His judgment, but in the first verse of today’s reading, it is the Adversary who does so. (Talk amongst yourselves) Or how David states, in 22:6-10, that God would not have him build the Temple because he had shed much blood. I don’t believe this was for the sin of murdering Urriah, but just that God had a different role for David. David was a battler for the Lord. Solomon was to be a builder for the Lord. There are so many practical applications here for how God uses both our enemies and ourselves according to His good and perfect will and for our joy. I want to be able to talk about how David chooses to suffer at the hands of God rather than men in 21:7-17. Why? Because he believes that even in His anger God will be both good and ultimately merciful. How many of us would choose to suffer at the hands of God rather than the hands of men? Not many I would guess. How many of us would experience less burden in our suffering if we did so? All of us, I expect.
But since I’m not talking about those things…
One of the great missing ingredients in the worship life of the Christian and the Church is the notion of sacrifice. Many of us have such anemic worship lives because it costs us so little. And, like little children with birthday presents, what costs little is little esteemed. We take for granted that God loves us and wants us to have a relationship with Him, and therefore the notion that worship should cost us something seems crude and offensive.
However, when we look throughout the Old Testament we find sacrifice is central to worship. God’s reason for instituting sacrifice was first to teach them the cost of their sin and to point them to the eventual coming of Christ, but it was also to teach them that in giving God their best and laying it on the altar and killing it that there was a cost associated with a right relationship to God.
The reason there is so much teaching in the Bible about stewarding our resources (compare the amount of teaching on money to the teaching on Heaven and Hell for instance) is not because God wants your money, but because you and I are so prone to want it more than we want Him. When David, who had been more interested in counting his military resources than trusting God, sought to repent, he wanted to build an altar and make an offering to the Lord. Ornan, the farmer, graciously offers to give David both the land on which to build the altar and the offering to go on it. So many of us would have gleefully shouted that God had provided and accepted the offer. But David understood that sacrifice, as an act of worship, should cost us something. David’s words to Ornan:
“…I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (1Ch 21:24)
The Gospel proclaims that salvation cannot be earned, but is given freely through grace. That is a glorious reality that we are not here denying or obscuring. However, the process of growing in grace as a disciple and becoming more like Christ (often called “sanctification” in the Bible) is costly. God must be first. Christ is the pearl of great price. He is the treasure hidden in the field that one must sell all he has to obtain. Daily costly sacrifice of my wealth (and every other resource too) is a necessary part of Christian growth, reminding ourselves that God is our treasure and our hope.
Are you offering to the Lord that which costs you little or nothing? Many today are. Pray today that God would change our hearts to make Him our treasure.