CHAPTER NINETY-FOUR

His Fervent Praise

2 Samuel 24


"And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite. And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded" (2 Sam. 24:18, 19). Here we behold Davidís trustful and thankful acceptance of the mercy vouchsafed him. He received not the grace of God in vain, but complied promptly with His revealed will. To unbelief it would seem too good to be true that Godís displeasure was now appeased; but faith laid hold of the prophetís word, knowing that an "altar" spoke of propitiation and acceptance. And this is ever the way with those who have truly repented of their sins and humbled themselves before the Lord. Satan may seek to persuade them that they have transgressed beyond the hope of forgiveness, but sooner or later the heart of the Christian will turn again to the Antitypical Altar, and overcome the Adversary with the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11).

How different, for the moment, was the attitude of Araunah, "And Araunah turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves" (1 Chron. 21:20). This is in direct contrast, and presents to us a most important truth. On the one hand, the case of Araunah terror-stricken with the sight of the destroying angel, tells us that no flesh can stand naked, as in its own resources, before the Lord. On the other hand, David here exemplified the fact that penitent sinners may confidently draw nigh to Him in the power of simply believing in His wondrous grace. At this time the greatness of Godís mercy had not been revealed to Araunah: he knew nothing of the "altar" that was to be set up in his threshingfloor, and therefore, as nakedly a creature in the sight of Godólike Adam before Him in such a caseóhe hid himself.

But David had revealed to him the remedy, which mercy rejoicing against judgment had provided, and therefore he hesitated not. Though shamed and humbled, he immediately responded to Gadís message, and "went up"ósignificant word (cf. Gen. 13:1-3, etc.)ódelivered from the mire into which be bad fallen. The angelís "sword," still unsheathed, had no alarms for him now, for he goes to the very place where be stood (1 Chron. 21:16)! Is not this remarkable? The very spectacle which filled Araunah with fear, had no tenor for David. Believing, he was neither ashamed not confounded. Consequently we see in his action here no disturbance of the flesh, but all is quietness and assurance as he rested on the Word of God. What a lesson is there here for our needy hearts. Alas, what cowards we are! What trifles we allow to affright us. O for more confidence in the living God, more reliance upon His promises; less occupation with what intimidates the flesh.

"And as David came to Araunah, Araunah looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground" (1 Chron. 21:21). Let us not lose sight of the blessed humility of David hereóever a prominent spiritual grace in his character and conduct. Does the reader perceive to what we now call attention? It is this: David did not treat with Araunah mediately, through one of his underlings, but directly. Was not this in perfect keeping with the "sackcloth"? He still took the place of self-abnegation. Ah, dear friends, it is the emptied vessel which God fills. Rightly did Matthew Henry declare, "Great men will never be less respected for their humility, but the more." Those who are self-important and pompous only display their littleness and meanness.

"And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people" (2 Sam. 24:21). Here we behold David as the righteous one. Though be was a king, and though he had received commandment from the Lord to build an altar at this particular place, nevertheless be insisted upon making fair payment to this man, even though a Gentile. This is ever a mark of true spirituality: those who walk with God, are honorable in dealing with their fellowmen. "Owe no man anything" (Rom. 12:8) is a necessary application of "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Neither high office nor pressure of circumstances can justify one in taking an unfair advantage of another. Nothing lower than "in all things willing to live honestly" (Heb. 13:18) must be the Christianís standard. Those who attended Christ most closely during the days of His public ministry, neither imposed upon the kindness of others nor begged favors, but bought their food (John 4:8).

"And Araunah said unto David, let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt-sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood" (v. 22). The language of 1 Chronicles 21:23 is yet more definite: "Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt-offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat-offering; I give it all." What noble generosity was this! But we prefer to look at Araunahís liberality from the divine sideówhen any one befriends us, we should ever discern the Lordís prompting such kindness, But what we would particularly emphasize now is, that here we have another illustration of the principle that when God works, he always works at both ends of the line. He who wrought in David a readiness to comply with His request, was the Same as now moved Araunah to meet him more than half way. If He sends Elijah to Zarephath, He makes a widow willing to share her portion with him. There is great encouragement in this if faith lays hold of the same. If God continues to grant us messages, He will continue to prepare hearts to receive them.

"All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee" (v. 23). Some have drawn the conclusion from these words that Araunah himself was of royal stock, for the Jebusites were the original owners of Zion (2 Sam. 5:6-9), but there is nothing else in Scripture to support this view. Rather do we understand our verse to signify that Araunah acted with royal munificence. A most laudable contention it was between a good king and a good subject. Since it was to David, and since it was for the Lord, Araunah would not sell, but give. On the other side, David, since it was for the Lord, would not take, but pay. So far from his words "The Lord thy God accept thee" denoting that he was not himself a believer in and worshiper of Jehovah (as if an idolator had been permitted to dwell on mount Zion!) they evidence that Araunah was possessed of faith and spiritual intelligence.

"And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt-offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing" (v. 24). Here again we should view things from the standpoint of the divine workings. Godís moving Araunah to act so magnanimously afforded David an opportunity to display his devotedness to the Lord. A gracious heart will not serve God with that which costs him nothing, nor will he deem that true piety which involves no sacrifice. This is the fruit of faith. Carnal nature begrudges everything, and says with Judas, "To what purpose is this waste?" but faith will not withhold from God its Isaac (Heb. 11:17). It is also the fruit of love, which deemeth nothing too good for the Lordówitness the woman with her precious spikenard. The denial of self and the mortification of his lusts are the unfailing marks of a genuine saint. How these words of David need to be laid to heart in this flesh-pleasing age!

"So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver" (v. 24). As usual, infidels have called attention to the "discrepancy" in 1 Chronicles 21, where we are told, "So David gave to Araunah for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight" (v. 25). But two different things are in view. Samuel mentions David buying the threshingfloor and the oxen, whereas Chronicles refers to his purchase of "the place," which probably signifies the whole of his landówhich afterwards becomes the extensive site for the temple. It is to be noticed that for the former David paid in "silver," which speaks of redemption, whereas for the latter he gave "gold," the emblem of divine glory. Spiritually speaking we do not learn the value of the "gold" until we are experimentally acquainted with the "silver." The amount of the gold was twelve times as great as that of the silver, showing this was for the complete number of Israelís tribes, and typifying the entire Body of Christ.

"And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings" (v. 25). This supplies the final line to our typical picture, for here be behold David as the accepted worshiper. "Accepted" we say, for 1 Chronicles 21 tells us that the Lord, "answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt-offering" (v. 26), which announced that his sacrifice had been received on High (cf. Lev. 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38, 39; 2 Chron. 7:1-3). Thus does the God of all grace delight to honor those who confide in Him, by granting tokens of His approbation. But note well the strength of Davidís faith and the heartiness of his thanksgiving: he offered on that altar not only burnt-offerings, but peace-offerings as well. Now the "peace-offering" spoke of communion, for (while the burnt-offering was wholly consumed upon the altar) this was shared in by God, all the males of the priesthood, and that of the offerer himself (Lev. 7:6, 15)óeach had his portion.

"And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof" (1 Chron. 21:27). "So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel" (2 Sam. 24:25). What a remarkable ending is this to the second book of Samuel! The atoning sacrifice appeasing the just displeasure of God, the erring one restored to full communion with Him, and the discovery made to David of the place where the temple was to be built and the worship of Israel subsequently to be carried on. Sorrow was turned into joy for all who had their portion of the peace-offerings that day. What thoughts must then have occupied their hearts as they partook of that sacrifice according to divine appointment: they feasted on the very offering which God had accepted. 2 Samuel, then, closes by showing us David in full fellowship with the Lord. What a blessed foreshadowment of eternity! How it reminds us of the closing words of the parable of the prodigal son: "Bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and he merry" (Luke 15:23)! In addition to the two historical accounts furnished us by 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21, Psalm 30 (composed very shortly afterwards) throws further light on the exercises of Davidís heart at that time. As C. H. Spurgeon pointed out in his introductory remarks upon Psalm 30, "A Psalm and Song at the Dedication of the House of David; or rather, A Psalm: a Song of Dedication for the House. By David." It is "A Song of faith since the house of Jehovah, here intended, David never lived to see. A Psalm of praise, since a sore judgment had been stayed and a great sin forgiven." The translation and punctuation of the title to this Psalm is definitely settled for us by Davidís own words in 1 Chronicles 22: "Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God (referring to Araunahís threshingfloor) and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel" (v. 1).

"I will extol Thee, O Lord; for Thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me" (Ps. 30:1). This Psalm is a song and not a complaint. An experimental realization of the joy of deliverance contrasted from previous anguish, is its characteristic note. The "foes" to which David refers are to be understood of evil spirits as well as Satanís serfs among men: they are ever ready to rejoice at the falls, griefs and chastisements of those who fear God. For having recovered him from his fall and thus saving him from utter discomfiture before his enemies, David praised God.

"O Lord my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou hast healed me. O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit" (Ps. 30:2, 3). It is beautiful to see how David had owned Him according to His covenant title, for as we pointed out in our last, it was in His covenant faithfulness that Jehovah had acted when He caused the desolating pestilence to cease. His "I cried unto Thee" tells of the acuteness of his distress: he was too agitated to pray, yet he poured out his soul unto Him who understands the language of inarticulate groans. So desperate had been his plight, and so signal the Lordís intervention in mercy, David felt as one who had been recovered from the dead.

"Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Ps. 30:4, 5). It was not only in mercy but in holiness God had acted, as His bidding David to erect an altar clearly evidenced. Does not the Psalmist teach us here a much-needed lesson? How often we praise the Lord for His goodness, His long-sufferance, His restoring grace; but bow rarely we bless Him for His holiness, which is chief among His perfections! David found cause for rejoicing in the brevity of the divine judgment: the plague had lasted but a few hours, but His favor is life everlasting. What a mercy it is that His chastisements (even if continued to the end of our earthly course) are but "for a moment" (2 Cor. 4:17), in contrast from the eternity of bliss which awaits His beloved.

"And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by Thy favour Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled" (Ps. 30:6,7). How clearly this confirms the exposition we gave, tracing back Davidís folly in numbering the people to the pride of his heart. Here is plainly revealed to us the secret of his sad fall. It is true that he had not attributed the success of his arms to anything in himself, or his men, but rather had freely ascribed the victories to the Lordís favor (2 Sam. 22:1, 48-50), yet he fondly imagined that God had made his kingdom invincible, one that would never he overthrown. And the Lord had hidden His face, as He always does when we forsake the place of conscious weakness and dependency upon Him. And poor David was "troubled"óbrought to confusion and dismay, for no "mountain," however firm, can yield a saint satisfaction when the smile of Jehovahís countenance is concealed from him. What a warning is there here for us against cherishing a sense of carnal security.

"I cried to Thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication" (v. 8). "Prayer is the unfailing resource of Godís people. If they are driven to their witsí end, they may still go to the mercy-seat. When an earthquake makes our mountain tremble, the throne of grace still stands firm, and we may come to it" (C. H. Spurgeon). On a former occasion at Ziklag, when David was deeply distressed, for the people had spoken of stoning him, he had "encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Sam. 30:6); so now he sought for refuge in God, and the divine faithfulness failed him not. Not in vain do believers commit themselves into the hands of the Lord.

"What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise Thee? shall it declare Thy truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be Thou my Helper" (Ps. 30:9, 10). The intensity of Davidís sufferings are plainly discovered to us here. Outwardly he was clothed in sackcloth, but that was a feeble expression of his inward anguish. As the king of Israel, it had specially devolved upon him to honor the divine statutes, but he had broken them, and caused his subjects to do so too. Just retribution had fallen upon his kingdom. Plaintively does he plead with Jehovah: Would his death promote Godís cause on earth? Would it issue in divine adoration? Let then mercy rejoice against judgment.

"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness: to the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God. I will give thanks unto Thee Forever" (Ps. 30:11, 12). Here is further proof (if any be needed) that this Psalm treats of the same period of Davidís life as is before us 2 Samuel 24. And a grand finale do its closing verses supply. David had begged God to be gracious unto him, and He was gracious. Such wondrous mercy made "glory" vocal with the voice of ceaseless thanksgiving, for Glory is to be the dwelling-place of redeemed and rescued sinnersóthose who have, like David, proved for themselves the greatness and sufficiency of the Lordís mercies. "I will give thanks unto Thee forever": such will be our employ in glow, and all because of Sacrifice. Verses 11 and 12 are true of Christ Himself, and therefore of the members of His Body also.