Giving Has a Cost (2 Samuel 24:18-25)


It was a sensitive time for David in Israel. David had initiated an unauthorized census—probably just to glorify himself (2 Samuel 24:1-2). Joab had questioned it (2 Samuel 24:3). After the fact, David’s conscience burns and he recognizes his prideful sin (2 Samuel 24:10). God’s prophet, Gad, delivered the news of a coming divine punishment (24:11-14). The three-day plague’s cost was “seventy thousand men of the people died” (24:15). Imagine the burden of knowing the lives of 70,000 souls were due to your spiritual blunder.

Thankfully, God offers to relent from His punishment if David would “erect an altar to the Lord” and offer a sacrifice “on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite” (24:18). David, still stinging from his self-willed sin, is now completely willing to do as ordered (24:19). In fact, as David goes to purchase the land of Araunah, we learn a valuable lesson. Araunah offers to allow David to take whatever is needed, for free, to do what God required so the plague upon the people could be withdrawn (24:21-23).

Yet, David responds: “’No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver” (24:24).

David had already made one selfish blunder with his census. He does not want to make another one by offering a cost-free sacrifice to God. There is an important lesson: giving has a cost! It is “with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).

Think for a moment about this holy site upon which David made this offering. It was “on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” There was a rich history in this place. 2 Chronicles 3:1 says, “Now Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” This very spot, also called Mount Moriah, was where Abraham willingly offered Isaac, his only son, as a sacrifice at the command of God hundreds of years before (Genesis 22:2-14). This very spot was where David offered a sacrifice so God would withdraw His punishment on Israel (2 Samuel 24:25). This very spot was where Solomon would build the temple and hundreds of lambs would be sacrificed for the sins of Israel (2 Chronicles 7:1-5). Yet, this was also the very city where Jesus, the Son of God and the Lamb of God, would be put on trial and sentenced to death for the sins of the world so God could withdraw His punishment (John 1:21; 19:14,16).

God gave us His Son at a great cost. These three historic events (Abraham’s sacrifice, David’s sacrifice, the temple sacrifices) were a foreshadowing of God’s costly sacrifice for us. Today, the lesson is our spiritual sacrifices for God must also come at a cost. What are you willing to sacrifice to give to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2)? If our giving requires no sacrifice, it is not giving that imitates the heart of God because godly giving always comes with a cost!