What Does It Cost?
The people of God are suffering from a pestilence that is rapidly spreading throughout the entire nation within 3 days. The number of deaths is confirmed to be 70,000 fighting men of Israel. This plague isn’t the result of the nation’s rebellion or faithlessness but rather one man’s sinful actions. The man that has brought upon this horrific plague is none other than their leader and king, King David.
In 2 Samuel 24 David instructs Joab and the commanders of his army to go and number the people. Joab immediately expresses his feeling that this should not be done but David would not listen to reason but rather hushed him and demanded that it be done.
“But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (24:10). Why was it sinful? What did David realize about himself and this course of action that called for such urgent repentance? Maybe it was because he didn’t follow the command of the Lord and collect the poll tax as instructed in Exodus 30:11-16. Maybe it was because of his pride and/or military ambitions. Maybe because it wasn’t commanded by the Lord compared to Numbers 1:2. Maybe it was a lack of trust in the Lord.
It could be all of those things or just some parts. Either way both Joab and David recognized the sinful nature behind this census of the people. David is now pleading with the Lord for forgiveness.
It’s then that the Lord gives David a hard choice to make. "Go and say to David, 'Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.'" So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, "Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me." Then David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man." (2Sa 24:12-14)
David chose the 3 days of pestilence. After the third day David pleads to the Lord for his people and further seeks to take ownership of this sin and situation. He’s instructed to go and raise an alter on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Araunah sees David coming and runs out and meets him and tries to offer everything needed to erect and offer the sacrifice. Notice what David says to him in v.24 - "No, but I will buy it 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.
There are so many things we could focus on in this story but what I find very intriguing and thought provoking is David’s response there in v.24. I will not offer worship that costs me nothing. That by it’s nature means that worship costs something. No doubt David couldn’t help but think that it had already cost his people 70,000 lives because of his sin. His worship to the Lord had to cost him something to be pleasing. Isn’t that interesting?
What does discipleship cost us? What does worship cost us? We know that in order to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-34) it cost our Father the life of His only Son. We know that in order to be sanctified it cost Jesus His life by a gruesome death on the cross (Hebrews 10:14). But what does it cost me?
I think we'd all agree that the cost of discipleship and worship may differ with each person. What one may have to sacrifice may very well differ from another due to circumstances, trials, struggles, etc. But I also believe that there are also some things that it costs everyone.
- Humility - David desperately sought to humble himself before the Lord as he confessed and repented of his sin. To take responsibility, admit wrong, and not shift the blame took humility. To do as he's been instructed took humility. The same is true for us today. We naturally struggle with pride because after all the natural thing for us to do is to give ourselves the best light. We'll admit we're sinners and yet at the same time provide reasoning and excuses for our weaknesses. To worship God it will cost us humility.
- Time - David anxiously waited out the 3 days of pestilence as he received report after report dispatching the news of the current death count. God did say 3 days but then David was instructed to go and build an altar. It took time to travel to the threshing floor of Araunah. It took time to build the altar. It took time to pray and offer the sacrifice to the Lord. David could have said to himself that the 3 days were up and he had other more important things to do. The easy and convenient way was to accept the offer of Araunah and let him build the altar. To worship God it will cost us time.
- Effort - David understood that to truly worship the Lord it took effort. Just as we said with time, David didn't choose the easy way but the way that required personal effort. It took time, thought, energy, and focus to worship in a pleasing way. Effort to travel, purchase, build, and carry out the act of worship. How often do we find ourselves worshipping and just going through the motions. Perhaps you can't lead in the public worship or you aren't asked to that particular day. How easy is it to "worship" without very much effort? David understood that it required effort on his part. To worship God it will cost us effort
As we worship God in our individual lives each day what does it cost us? As we worship collectively what does it cost? Are we offering worship that costs us nothing or are we standing like David and offering worship that costs us something. I appeal to you therefore, brother, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)