Since the details of David’s census will be revisited in 1 Chronicles 21, I want to focus today on some of the last words in 2 Samuel. When David comes to build an altar and make sacrifices at Araunah’s threshing floor, David refuses Araunah’s gift of animals for the sacrifice with these words: “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
After seeing the ups and downs of David’s life, we see David again at his best. David recognizes God is the author, creator, and sustainer of all things. In refusing to take Araunah’s offer, David says through word and action that God is worthy of our best. David recognizes that as a leader he must lead in giving his own best to God.
The truth is, one of God’s foremost intentions in commanding sacrifices is to encourage the demonstration of faith. In addition to atoning for sins and removing guilt, sacrifices were an opportunity for God’s people to demonstrate trust in God’s faithfulness. When a person makes a sacrifice to God, they are saying they believe God will provide other animals for their well-being.
In the same way, David knows God’s kindness and wishes to show Araunah and others that when it comes to God he will not serve only when convenient or easy. David will not offer a costless faith, but faith that is willing to pay the price for the God who is not short on generosity.