2 Samuel 24:18-25
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[a] 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.
I find this passage somewhat perplexing. It appears to be the post-sin clean up. If I look back to the earlier section I wonder, why did David count the men in the first place? What pride was in his heart? Where did this idea come from? How did he shift from receiving everything as sheer gift to thinking he owned the blessings and deserved them? I struggle with the fact that the sin cost the lives of some 70,000 men. For God to require this payment for sin, it must have been considered very significant to Him. I suppose this sin was not just the sin of one man, but the sin of the ultimate leader of the nation. The people followed the leader, in sin or righteousness. God had to deal strongly with this rebellious independence or risk his people turning away from Him, to greater destruction.
What was it that caused the plague to stop? When David humbled himself, acted in obedience and demonstrated repentance by making an offering to God. The experience was about acknowledging that David was submitted to God. Once David had done this, the plague lifted. God was not destroying His people for fun, but because He would not stand by and let them turn away from Him to do life their own way.
What’s my view of sin? God, please help me grasp the seriousness of sin and help me to humble myself and submit to your ways. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh