David messed up… big time. He wanted to know how people he had fighting for him, and he took a census. That seems like a reasonable request until we consider that God is the one who won the battles for David. The victories that Israel benefited from were not a result of the might of the people but the will of the Lord. So when David became concerned with the number of fighting men he had available, God was not pleased, and the result of David's foolishness was the death of a large group of people. What really strikes me about this account is the reconciliation that David made with God. He knew he messed up, so he went to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. In order to do so, he needed to acquire a piece of property from a man named Ornan so he could build an altar. Ornan offered to give the land to David, but David refused to accept the gift. Why? Because that would have been too easy. Because it didn't cost him anything. David wanted to make a sacrifice to the Lord that was truly a sacrifice. I wonder how often I settle for sacrifices to God that aren't really sacrifices at all. David teaches us here that true sacrifices, ones that are pleasing to the Lord, are those that cost something that the giver holds dearly. In this case it was money, but that's not to say money is the case in every situation. I hope that, at the end of the day, I will not look back and see that I gave only mediocre sacrifices to my Lord.
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Seth is a pastor, author, and speaker who lives in Batesville, Indiana. He is married to Kari, and they have two daughters, Madelyn and Noelle.