THE END OF THE MATTER
Only you, Lord God, are worthy of praise and honor and glory. I worship you as I come to your Word today.
Read 2 SAMUEL 24:18-25
David Builds an Altar
18 On that day Gad went 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, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”
“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”
22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 Your Majesty, Araunah[a] gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.”
24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[b] of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply.’1
This last section of 2 Samuel tells us about the end of David’s reign, finishing with a story of astute negotiation, commitment to God and the recognition and final taking up of his own responsibility. 1 Kings follows on directly, beginning with David at the end of his life having lost the ability to carry out further responsibilities or even to care for himself. The four books of Samuel and Kings belong together, but the writer apparently wants us to look back over David’s reign and, even while clearly aware of weaknesses and failures, also to see David’s strengths and successes. We have a lovely picture here of eastern negotiations, where it is hard to know when a suggestion, such as Araunah’s offer to provide everything, is genuine or just part of the cultural power play. In either case, David wanted to be very clear that he accepted his responsibility. This was his offering, his sacrifice, acknowledging both his own sin and his own thankfulness to God. 1 Samuel began with worship and sacrifice offered at God’s house in Shiloh2 and 2 Samuel ends with worship and sacrifice at what was to become the site of the new Temple.3
The account ends with a repetition of the statement made at the end of the story of the consequences of Saul’s sin.4 God ‘answered his prayer on behalf of the land’ (v 25). The writer has been consistently clear that sin has consequences and must be dealt with but, once it is dealt with, life moves on. God is still listening, still caring, still powerful, still answering. The next stage of Israel’s history may be worse or may be better but, at this point, hope remains.
May we, with God’s help, take responsibility for our failures. Thank God for being a God of mercy and hope, allowing us to move on. May we do that too.
Almighty God, thank you for your presence with me this day. Regardless of my circumstances, I choose to trust you, worship you, and declare your faithfulness.
1 1 Pet 4:7,8 2 1 Sam 1:3 3 2 Chr 3:1 4 2 Sam 21:14
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