Reading the Bible through with me? Then grab your journal and pen and we will finish 2 Samuel by reading chapters 22-24.
In chapter 24, David has a military census done. The implication is that his faith hinged on the size of his military as much or more than the size of His God. The Bible is very transparent about the flaws of and lapses in judgment by its heroes.
As great as David was, he was simply a man, one whose faith was under fire at times. They had just come out of a three-year famine. For some reason unknown to us, God was not pleased with Israel. It might have been the plethora of national sins during the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba and the tensions between the northern and southern tribes. Whatever it was, the judgement of God was nearby.
Satan tempted David to do a census of his military-aged men. (I Chronicles 21:1) That seems benign unless you know that God had given specific requirements for a census in Exodus 30:12-16. David failed to follow God’s instruction. God offered him a choice of punishments: another seven years of famine, three months of retreating from his enemies, or three days of plague. David chose the three days of plague. The punishment went into effect and killed 70,000 men.
God, in His mercy, relented of the judgment even before a penitent David begged Him to stop. The prophet Gad told him to build an altar and offer sacrifices on the threshing floor of Araunah. When David requested this plot of land, Araunah was willing to give it to him. David’s words in 24:24 are poignant - “...I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offering that cost me nothing.” David understood that sacrifice required cost.
Here in the American church, far too many professing believers offer God leftovers. Leftover time, money, and energy. We give if it doesn’t hurt. We know so little about sacrifice and it shows. We sing “All to Jesus I Surrender” while casting meager amounts into the offering, giving lip service to servant opportunities, and participating in worship and small groups if “nothing better” comes along. We do the opposite of what David did.
We give to God our leftovers. Wonder how our lives and our churches would change if we embraced David’s philosophy – “I will not offer (anything) to the Lord that cost me nothing.” In your church, be a cheerful giver. Be an active participant. Be a servant. When you give time, effort, energy, and money with a humble, sincere heart, you will find the old saying it true.
You can never out-give God!