Christianity 201

November 9, 2012

“You Go First” “No, You Go First”

Ever stood at a doorway with someone who insists you enter first, while you are insisting that they go first? Today’s story is more like two people insisting on paying the tab at a restaurant.

II Samuel 24 (NLT) : 18 That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

19 So David went up to do what the Lord had commanded him. 20 When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked.

David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”

22 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23 I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.

25 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

David wants to buy the land where he will erect an altar to atone for his disobedience in doing something God had told him not to do. (The reason God didn’t want him to take a census at that time is the subject for another study, suffice it to say he was disobedient.)  But Araunah is making an overly generous generous gesture to simply give the king the land. But then it really won’t be as much of a sacrifice on David’s part will it? Talk about substitutionary atonement. (No, not really; though we could go in that direction, too; but like other analogies, it doesn’t fit perfectly.)

So David voices the well known statement, “for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.” (v. 24b, NASB)

I thought about that today as I prepared today’s reading. In selecting material for this devotional, I peruse many websites before finding things I’m comfortable using here. You may notice lately I’ve been writing more of the devotionals myself. It’s not that I’m entering a phase of super-spirituality — definitely not! — or that I feel what I have to say is somehow superior to the writings of other bloggers.

Rather, I find a lot of what passes for devotional writing online is simply too short. I don’t think God is impressed by the length of our writing or the volume of our words, but if I were relying on some of these websites/blogs for my daily start or my end-of-day meditation, I would be on and off the page probably in under 60 seconds.

There is no sacrifice there, at least where time is concerned. I truly hope that people use those sites as supplements do other reading and studying they are doing.

All of which reminded me of David’s line. Araunah’s generosity is making the process too easy. Yes, it’s true, David would still have to obtain and prepare the burnt offerings and peace offerings (v. 25), but he felt something would be wrong; that his sacrifice would be a little less sacrificial. And yes, while I knew the line that was part of today’s thoughts, I found myself taking the time to study the passage.

Today’s question: Do we sometimes use shortcuts in spiritual disciplines?

Related post: Re-read “Giving Your Best to God” from last Saturday.


  1. Just a note on the length of posts. I think this is a problem for many people. I know I TRY to keep my posts relatively short, and usually cut out a lot of the ‘first draft’ because I know many will not read something that is too long. I try to make them seem shorter by using layout and colour variations, rather than a page of text.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — November 9, 2012 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

    • There are some people who won’t wade through paragraph after paragraph that is simply text, and that’s where a blog like yours, Meeting in the Clouds can be so helpful and can therefore be recommended. I can only imagine the time that goes into selecting stories, quotations and scriptures and then doing a layout that is visually appealing. Meeting in the Clouds appears in the blogroll of both Christianity 201 and Thinking Out Loud for just that reason.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — November 10, 2012 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

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