And there he built an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Then the LORD answered the prayers on behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was halted.
Romans 3:25, 26), and that men, while seeking and obtaining forgiveness, might discern more clearly, feel more deeply, and acknowledge more heartily, the righteousness of the sentence which condemned them to death. These remarks apply more especially to the "burnt offerings." The "peace offerings" (thank offerings)were added apparently as an expression of joyful gratitude for the deliverance which was confidently expected through the sacrifice of the burnt offerings. The text reminds us of another sacrifice which was offered ten centuries later near the site of David's altar, and which has rendered all other offerings for sin superfluous and unlawful. It may tend to the better understanding of both to view them together, noting their resemblances and contrasts.
I. THEIR RESEMBLANCES.
1. In their origin. Both were of Divine origin and appointment. They originated in the love and righteousness and wisdom of God - his perception of what "became him" (Hebrews 2:10).
2. In their nature. As making atonement for sin, by which God was "entreated," and the exercise of his forgiving mercy rendered consistent with a due regard for justice.
3. In their significance for men. Displaying the evil of sin and the Divine displeasure against it, and at the same time the loving kindness of God - his readiness to pardon; and thus tending to produce at once abhorrence of sin and penitential grief, and the assured hope of pardon.
4. In their results. Reconciliation between God and sinners; forgiveness of sin and deliverance from its penalties; renewed enjoyment of the favour of God; renewed confidence in and obedience to him; added strength to resist temptation.
II. THE INCALCULABLE SUPERIORITY OF THE SACRIFICE OF OUR LORD.
1. David offered the lives of animals; our blessed Lord offered himself. They were of little value; but who shall calculate the worth of him who was not only the perfect Man, but the Word Incarnate, the only begotten Son of God? They could not understand the transaction in which they were made to participate, and could gale no voluntary part in the sacrifice. But Jesus entered fully into the mind of God, shared to the utmost his love to sinners and hatred of their sins, made the Divine purpose his own, and in devoted obedience to the will of the Father surrendered himself willingly to suffering and death for our salvation. The virtue of his sacrifice arose from his Divine dignity, his perfect oneness with the Father in mind and heart, and his perfect obedience unto death (John 10:17, 18; Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:5-10).
2. David provided his own sacrifices; Jesus was the Gift of God. (l John 4:9, 10.) No man, no creature, could provide a sacrifice of sufficient worth to really and effectually atone for the sins of men.
3. The moral significance of the sacrifice of Christ is immeasurably greater than of the offering of any number of animal sacrifices. As a revelation of God and man, of holiness and sin, of the Divine hatred to sin and love to sinners, of the beauty and glory of self-sacrifice, etc., it is altogether unique.
4. The efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ transcends incalculably that of the sacrifices offered by David.
(1) The value of the latter for atonement depended wholly on the will and appointment of God; the worth of the former was essential and intrinsic.
(2) The one atonement was of limited, the other of boundless, efficacy. The former removed limited guilt - of a single nation, and for the time; the other was for the sins of all men, everywhere, and in all ages of the world (John 1:29; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2; Hebrews 10:14).
(4) The former had doubtless some influence on some of the Israelites, favourable to repentance, faith, and obedience; the latter has produced and will yet produce a complete revolution in the position and character of vast multitudes belonging to many nations. Those who believe are by the death of Christ brought to God (1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 10:19, 20), made partakers of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13, 14), pardoned and justified (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:9), sanctified (Romans 8:3, 4; Ephesians 5:25-27), led to thorough consecration of life to him who died for them (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15), and to assured hope and unspeakable happiness (Romans 5:5-11; Romans 8:32-39), issuing in the perfection, glory, and bliss of heaven (Revelation 7:9, 10, 13-17).
5. The animals offered by David ceased to exist; the great Redeemer obtained for himself by his self-sacrifice exaltation to universal dominion and immortal glory, including the honour of leading and saving those for whom he died, and of receiving their loving and devoted homage (Romans 14:8, 9; Ephesians 1:19-23; Philippians 2:8-11; Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 1:17, 18).
6. The benefits of David's offerings came to the people through his faith, penitence, and obedience; those of the sacrifice of Christ come to each Christian as the result of his own. Its moral and spiritual power is thus enhanced.
7. The burnt offerings of David laid the foundation for his thank offerings; much more does the death of Christ call for, induce, and render acceptable, thank offerings of a nobler kind, and these innumerable, unceasing, and throughout eternity. Such are the presenting of ourselves to God, and the offerings of praise, prayer, and beneficence (Romans 12:1; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:15, 16; Revelation 8:3, 4). Let us not fail to present such thank offerings. Let us take up the song of the banished apostle (Revelation 1:5, 6), "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood...to him be glory and dominion forever and ever." Let us now join angels and the Church and all creation, and purpose and hope to join them forever, in the sublime anthem (Revelation 5:12, 13), "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing... Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. Amen." - G.W.
And David built an altar there unto the Lord.
1. At the beginning of the chapter it is said, "the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, go number Israel and Judah." In the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 21.) it is said "Satan provoked David to number Israel," i.e., (as Bishop Hall remarks) God did so by permission, Satan by suggestion; God as a judge, Satan as an enemy.
2. It has occurred to some as difficult to see exactly wherein David's sin consisted.(1) Distrust. God had said Israel should be as the dust of the earth, as the sand on the sea shore, and as the stars in the heavens — why count them then?(2) Pride. David thought no doubt he would appear more formidable by a display of numbers, like Hezekiah afterwards, he wished to make a display of his power.
3. Observe, again, "David's heart smote him after he had numbered the people; after, not before. Sin leaves a sting behind, though it may give a momentary gratification.
4. Remark David's sorrow and confession and guilt: "I have sinned and done very foolishly." Ah! here was grace; this was unnatural, it was supernatural; it was the very opposite of fallen nature to take all the blame to himself.
5. David was, on his repentance and acknowledgment, charged to rear an altar and to offer a sacrifice which was intended, no doubt, to represent that "without shedding of blood, there is no remission."
I. THE ALTAR AND SACRIFICE represent the sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the only sacrifice God will accept as an atonement for sin.
1. David offered "burnt-offerings and peace offerings." The burnt-offerings represent God's justice; the peace offerings represent God's mercy — a striking emblem of our great sacrifice I Here, in Jesus, "Mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other." Here, God's justice is satisfied, and His mercy manifested. Here, we see God "a just God," and yet "a Saviour" — "just, and the Justifier of all who believe." Where shall we look for the great proofs of God's righteous displeasure against sin? The great proof is found in the sufferings of God's own Son. Again, where shall we look for the great proof of God's mercy? You remind me of the ark in which Noah and his family were saved, or of Zoar, where Lot found refuge? Yes; but the great proof of mercy is to be found in the same garden, and on the same cross where we found the other
1. In one sense, and that a very important sense, our acceptance with God cost us nothing — it is free. Nothing we can do is meritorious: salvation is God's free gift through Christ. This is the vital pulse of a sinner's hope — "By grace he is saved."
2. The other point is: our redemption cost God much. "Ye are bought with a price," said St. Paul to his Corinthian brethren; how great a price he did not say; he could not. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "God so loved." Who can say how much? There is no mercy out of Christ, and "no condemnation to them who are in Christ."
II. DAVID'S RESOLUTION AND CONDUCT on the occasion of God's mercy to him. David's conduct by no means implies he regarded his offering as meritorious. (Psalm 51:16, 17,) "For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; thou delightest not in burnt-offering; the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt act despise." It proved two things as regarded David's peculiar case, viz., sincerity and thankfulness. Sincerity — unlike the ruler mentioned in the Gospel, he wanted a religion which would cost him nothing, and therefore "he went away sorrowful." Thankfulness. David longed to show what he felt, like the leper (Luke 17.), he "returned to give glory to God." Oh! what a spring it would give to charity, to feel as David felt. Observe, in the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 21.) it is said, David bought the threshing-floor for 600 shekels of gold. We can reconcile the two accounts by merely supposing the author in the book of Samuel stated the price of the oxen, while the author in the book of Chronicles mentioned the price of the threshing floor. Let me now mention a few particulars which the Gospel claims as proofs of gratitude, and God's Word proposes as tests of sincerity.
1. Coming out of the world.
2. The Gospel demands the sacrifice of every known sin — not one, but all; not in part, but entirely.
3. The Gospel demands of us to deny self. "Of all idols," says one, "idol self is worshipped the longest."Let me close with a word or two of direct and personal application.
1. I address those who suppose, by offering to God what cost them much, thereby to merit heaven. Turn, my brethren, to 1 Corinthians 13:3. "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." This exactly meets your case.
2. To such as, Gallio like, "care for none of these things," I would say your case is an awful one. A religion which costs you nothing — which allows you to keep your sins — to be conformed to the world, and to indulge the flesh, is not of God.
(W. E. Ormsby, M. A.)
And the plague was stayed from Israel.
1. The great danger of prosperity, and the folly of coveting riches and honours as the chief good.
2. The deceitful nature and the terrible consequences of sin. David's heart smote him after, not before, he had numbered the people. This is Satan's method of dealing with his prey, and this is the way he succeeds in beguiling men to ruin. He blinds the eye to the guilt, until the evil deed is done. How deeply is this felt by the penitent, when brought to loathe himself for his iniquity! What a sting is left behind by sin, though it may have been committed with very little alarm, and with scarcely any sense of its malignant nature! What a picture is displayed in this history of sin's terrible consequences — the angel of God running to and fro through the land with the sword of vengeance, and slaying seventy thousand men in less than three days! How it exhibits the Almighty's resolve not to let iniquity go unpunished!
3. The great and invaluable efficacy of the sacrifice of the death of Christ. The Almighty God, who is "angry with the wicked every day," and who has declared that all the nations that forget Him shall be turned into hell, has, nevertheless, made with them who believe in Christ, "a covenant well ordered in all things and sure," and, in that covenant, we have a Divine promise made, and the Divine veracity pledged, that they shall never perish, who rest their hopes on the offered propitiation.
4. The importance of promptitude in applying for mercy, and in deprecating the Divine wrath through the appointed sacrifice.
5. Finally, learn hence the duty of activity, liberality in the service of God, and for the benefit of your fellow sinners. It is a Scriptural precept — "Honour the Lord with thy substance." He who has a religion which costs him nothing has a religion that is worth nothing.
(H. Hughes, B. D.)
I. THE STRICT REGARD PAID BY THE ALMIGHTY TO THE CONDUCT OF HIS CREATURES. This is a consideration which ought ever to impress our minds. The want of it is one of the causes of the misconduct of men. All are not openly infidels; they do not deny a God; nor do they allow His existence, and deny His omniscience. All do not confine Him to His own heaven, and make it part of His greatness and grandeur to avert His eyes from earth. All do not make Him indifferent to sin. and say, with the unbelief of those of old, "The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it." But though we may not, say this, we may be influenced by the very principle from which it proceeds. All who sin forget God; act as though there were no God, or He had no omniscience, or that He is indifferent to their conduct. To awaken us to a consciousness of the regard he pays to our actions, to His ever-bending, ever-watchful eye, it is, that he has so often specially interposed to punish sin, and in a manner which could leave no doubt of His agency. For this, among other purposes, the histories in the Old Testament have been preserved; that observing the displays of His power and justice, we might "sanctify the Lord in our hearts," and that the whole earth might "tremble and keep silence before Him." Does any one suppose that because He is but an individual, one amidst the myriads of the human race, he shall pass in the crowd, and escape the notice of his Judge? Let him learn that David was an individual, yet his individual sin was noticed, dragged to light, reproved, and punished.
II. WE ARE INSTRUCTED BY THE HISTORY TO CONSIDER SIN AS AN EVIL FOLLOWED BY THE MOST DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES. The pride, and forgetfulness of God, of which David and his people were guilty, might appear, if sins at all, sins of a very venial kind, the common infirmities of human nature; yet they were followed by the dreadful choice of evils, and with the destruction of seventy thousand persons. One of the most fatal habits of mind is to treat sin lightly or with 'indifference. It is exhibited as a mark of eminent folly. "Fools make a mock at sin."
III. THE HISTORY ALSO EXHIBITS TO US THE ONLY MEANS OF FORGIVENESS AND ESCAPE FROM PUNISHMENT. The altar was built unto the Lord: "David offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings; so the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed." In other words, sin was expiated by the intervention of a sacrifice. This is the doctrine of every book of Scripture, of every age, and of every nation. Let us, then, observe that the testimony of the Church of God, from every age, is that the anger of Him whom we have offended can only be propitiated, and that He only can be approached, by sacrifice. When man became a sinner, then an altar marked the place in which he worshipped, and his offering was a bloody sacrifice. When Noah left the ark, his first act was to erect an altar, to reconcile God to a world which bore so many marks of His wrath; and at the Smell of the sweet savour of the offerings, He gave the promise, "I will no more curse the ground for man's sake." When the first-born of Egypt fell beneath the stroke of the angel, it was the blood of the lamb sprinkled upon the door-posts that guarded in safety the offspring of Israel. When the plague broke forth against the rebels in the wilderness, Aaron ran between the living and the dead with his censer and incense, and the plague was stayed; but it was incense inflamed by fire from the altar of sacrifice. Thus, on ordinary occasions by stated, and on extraordinary displays of the Divine anger by extraordinary sacrifices, did the Church show forth the intended death of the true Sacrifice. This is our method of salvation: "We are saved by His blood," and it is important for us to know that, in this single doctrine of a substituted sacrifice, the whole method of our salvation is included. The manner in which sacrificial rites were performed illustrates even now the method of salvation. The offerer confessed the fact of his offence by bringing his victim; and he that believes in Christ, by assenting to this method of expiation, confesses the fact too: "I have sinned, and therefore I fly to Christ as my atonement." The offerer was prompted by the fear of punishment to slay his victim, and sprinkle the blood; so David in the text. If we are properly alarmed at our, danger, we shall haste to the only refuge of a Saviour's bleeding side. The sacrifice was the instrument of sanctification; it supposed a covenant with God; the sacrifice was eaten; the parties were made friends; and sin, which only could make them enemies, was renounced for ever. Thus, the appointment of sacrifices supposes the confession of sin; a salutary fear of the terrors of a holy God; a just apprehension of the desert of sin, death in its most painful forms; and a reliance and trust in God's appointed means of salvation, and the renunciation of all sin, and the recovery of His blessing and friendship. All these are taught you and enjoined upon you by the death of Christ; and on these terms we invite you to receive pardon and salvation.
IV. WE OBSERVE THAT THE ERECTION OF THIS ALTAR BY DAVID WAS A PUBLIC ACT, an act in which the public were interested; and in this respect it agreed with the practice of all ages. The building of an altar was ever a public act; the place was separate from common purposes; and it stood as a religious memorial for the instruction of mankind.
1. The erections themselves, and more especially the acts and observances of worship, are memorials of religious facts and doctrines. They keep a sense of God upon the minds of men; they turn She thoughts of the public, whether they will or not to serious subjects.
2. Our worship is public, and the places we erect are places of public resort.
3. Besides this, our places of worship are to be considered as the places where the Gospel, the good and glad tidings of salvation, are announced to men. They are the places of treaty and negotiation between God and man. Ministers are the ambassadors of God. Clothed with authority by Him, they enter His house, and a rebellious world is summoned to hear from them God's gracious terms of pardon, and His authoritative demand of submission.
4. They are houses of prayer, and remind us of our dependence upon God, and of His condescension to us. They are houses of shelter from the storms and cares of life; the places where we cast our care on Him, and prove that He careth for us; the place where He is known, eminently known, for a refuge.
V. THE ZEAL AND LIBERALITY WHICH GOOD MEN HAVE EVER DISCOVERED IN THE ERECTION OF HOUSES AND ALTARS TO GOD. The words of the text are an instance. When Araunah saw David coming, he went to meet him; and, when informed of the occasion — "to buy the threshing-floor, to build an altar to the Lord" — he spontaneously makes him the offer of his threshing-floor.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Century Bible.The last entry in the appendix to Samuel consists of a document which may be described as the charter of the most famous of the world's holy places. By the theophany here recorded the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite received a consecration which has made it holy ground not only for Judaism and Christianity, but for Islam as well. Upon this spot, we can scarcely doubt, stood the great altar of Solomon's temple. To-day, as all the world knows, the site is covered by the magnificent mosque, the Kubbet es-sahara, or Dome of the Rock, the most sacred of Mohammedan shrines after those of Mecca and Medina.
(Century Bible.)Aquinas; it was the pillar of Luthers soul, toiling for man; it was shapen into intellectual proportions and systematic symmetry by the iron logic of Calvin; it inspired the beautiful humility of Fenelon; fostered the devotion and self-sacrifice of Oberlin; flowed like molten metal into the rigid forms of Edwardss intellect, and kindled the deep and steady rapture of Wesleys heart... All the great enterprises of Christian history have been born from the influence, immediate or remote, which the vicarious theory of redemption has exercised upon the mind and heart of humanity.".
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