1 Chronicles 21:24 (ESV): 24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
These words of David come at the climax of a very strange story. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan incited David to number Israel. But in 2 Samuel 24 which tells the same story, we read that the LORD was displeased with Israel and incited David to conduct this census.
This seeming discrepancy is resolved when we understand the ancients’ worldview that God caused all things to happen – so they might attribute this census to God when the idea actually came from Satan.
Yet we should also consider that God allowed Satan to incite David because he was displeased with the people.
Regardless, after the census was conducted, minus Levi and Benjamin, God gave David three alternatives for punishment. David chose to fall into God’s hand – three days of pestilence upon the land.
70,000 men died in those three days, and God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem, but then God relented. At the same time, David who was praying saw God’s angel at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David asked that God punish him, not all of Israel.
God sent word through Gad, a prophet, that David should raise an altar at this threshing floor. So, David asked to buy the site. Ornan offered to give it all to him, but David responded with the highlighted text.
This site is where the Temple was later constructed by King Solomon.
Our offerings to God should not be cheap, costing us little or nothing. Rather, we should give generously, knowing that God has given so much more for us and to us, and therefore we truly owe God our everything.
Heavenly Father, may I not be miserly and calculating in my love for you. Rather, may I serve you willingly, humbly, sacrificially. Amen.