A Lesson in Sacrifice

That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”  Following Gad’s instructions, David went up, as the LORD had commanded.  When Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming toward him; and Araunah went out and prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground.  Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the LORD, so that the plague may be averted from the people.”  Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him; here are the oxen for the burnt offering, and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood.  All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God respond favorably to you.”

But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy them from you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.  David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being. So the LORD answered his supplication for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel. – 2 Samuel 24:18-25 (NRSV)

Sacrifice requires at least one element in order to qualify as sacrifice: it must cause us a deficit of some kind.  For David, it would be easy to assume that his deficit was the cost of the threshing floor, but the real deficit for David was his reputation. By purchasing the threshing floor from Araunah, David was declaring the place of sacrifice as his and his alone.  David was living out his own words, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalms 51:17)

In today’s society, going without cable or eating out less are considered sacrifices, but they are not the ones that get us closer to the heart of God.  The kind of sacrifices that we need to teach our children about will cost us something.  They need to see in us the willingness to put our reputations, our careers, even our lives at stake for the sake of being right with God, our family and our community.

It is interesting to note that the threshing floor and the surrounding hill became the building site of the temple.  This place that was a billboard for David’s sin would become the dwelling place for God and the place of worship for His people.  This is what sacrifice does for His people – it expands His residency and gives us opportunity to worship.  Teaching our children to sacrifice like David will take time, but it will increase God’s living space in their lives and room to worship Him.

Lord, help me to be a man of sacrifice.  Give me the tools to conquer pride and selfish ambition so You can overcome the unconquered areas of my life.  Let me be an example of godly sacrifice to my children for Your name’s sake. Amen.

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