2 Samuel 24:18-25

King David was told to set up a sanctuary for God in Jerusalem, and he was told where and in what manner it was to be set up. But the owner of the land was poor, and he would have been dependent upon the income from the property to survive.

Despite that, when approached by David, wanting to purchase the land for the priority of a sanctuary, he didn’t complain. He didn’t say, ‘I need the land to survive.’ He simply offered it willingly as a gift. Why? Because of the custom of the day, which was that land and the objects for worshipping God were to be provided by the owner. Which explains why poor man was so willing to give up his livelihood so freely.

But David refused the gift. David knew that for his worship of God to be of any value, it had to cost him personally. The site of the sanctuary could not to be left to custom or pagan generosity. It required him to purchase it at its full price. As a consequence, he paid the full price for the property and the vessels, which then allowed the poor men to set up business elsewhere.

Now there is a principle in this story that David understood—and one we would do well to consider. And the principle is that worship that costs nothing or less than full value, is not true worship. To be pure and holy, worship has to involve total commitment. Now David may have been a man of wealth, and he may have been tempted to take up the poor man’s offer, but he knew that worship in such circumstances would have no value to God whatsoever.

And this of course, has all sorts of implications for us, not least of which is in regard to the upkeep of our churches today. After all, it’s not unusual, today, for churches to be struggling financially. It’s also not unusual for churches to be seen asking for help—financially and otherwise—from those outside the church. And yet if we were to take the implications of this story seriously, we would see that having a shortage of funds is the result of people not giving God his due. And asking for money from those outside the church is not acceptable to God.

For worship to be considered valuable by God, the faithful need to pay full price for what they are offering. Indeed, short payment or getting people outside the church to contribute, does not constitute true worship. And because we often fail to acknowledge that, is it any wonder that our churches are in a state of decline.

Posted 4th July 2019
© 2019, Brian A Curtis