1 Chronicles 21:18-30

David’s Altar

18 Then the angel of the Lord [i]commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 So David went up at the word of Gad, which he spoke in the name of the Lord. 20 Now Ornan turned back and saw the angel, and his four sons who were with him hid themselves. And Ornan was threshing wheat. 21 As David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out from the threshing floor and prostrated himself [j]before David with his face to the ground. 22 Then David said to Ornan, “Give me the [k]site of this threshing floor, that I may build on it an altar to the Lord; for the full price you shall give it to me, that the plague may be restrained from the people.” 23 Ornan said to David, “Take it for yourself; and let my lord the king do what is good in his sight. See, I will give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for wood and the wheat for the grain offering; I will give it all.” 24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer a burnt offering [l]which costs me nothing.” 25 So David gave Ornan 600 shekels of gold by weight for the [m]site. 26 Then David built an altar to the Lord there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he called to the Lord and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. 27 The Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath.

28 At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifice there. 29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were in the high place at Gibeon at that time. 30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the Lord.

There are two lessons here: one that God is to be feared, even though we love and adore Him. He is the ultimate power in the universe, and there is no one like Him. The other is to not offer what costs us nothing. Seems pretty simple, but had David only given Ornan anything less than full price, it would have been the same result. The gift would not be David’s, but Ornan’s offering.

A big reason God asks us to give is to teach us the benefits of generosity (and to make us more like Him), and that doesn’t come when we “give” grudgingly. It isn’t really giving if it isn’t with a “cheerful heart”, and we certainly don’t learn the joy of giving from such a gift. Likewise, if it’s easy to give something, then we don’t learn the full lesson either, and it’s almost as if we were giving a gift that cost us “nothing”.

So if you’re ever tempted to give less than God asks, hold up, check your heart, and then when you’re ready, give generously and to the full. You won’t regret it when you give with a heart that is right.

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