That Which Costs Me Nothing
November 17th, 1963 @ 8:15 AM
2 Samuel 24:1-25
THAT WHICH DOTH COST ME NOTHING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Samuel 24:1-4
11-17-63 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled That Which Doth Cost Me Nothing. In your Bible, if you will turn to 2 Samuel, the last chapter, you can follow the message easily; 2 Samuel chapter 24. And this is the reading of the story, 2 Samuel chapter 24:
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of them.
And Joab said unto the king, Now the Lord thy God [add] unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.
So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.
[2 Samuel 24:1-4, 8-9]
He had an army of one million three hundred thousand men who were able to fight:
And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in this I have done: and now, I beseech Thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
For when David went up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,
Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to Him that sent me.
And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for His mercies are great: but let me not fall into the hand of man.
So the Lord sent a great pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.
And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented Him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let Thine hand, I pray Thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.
And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded.
And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.
And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshing floor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.
All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.
And the king said unto Araunah, Nay, nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen . . .
And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
[2 Samuel 24: 10-25]
The Scriptures do not tell us why it was a sin for David to number the people. Maybe it was military despotism. Maybe it was selfish ambition. Maybe it was greed and his purpose was to tax the people for himself and his own glory, as it was when Jesus was born—Augustus made a census of the Roman Empire in order that he may tax them for his own glory [Luke 2:1-7]. We are not told why it was that it was sin, but whatever it was was, the tenth verse of the story says that David’s heart smote him, and David said, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done” [2 Samuel 24:10]. Whatever it was, it was something wrong in the heart and in the spirit of David that moved him to number the people of Israel.
Now, the terrible alternatives that God gave to David were sore indeed [2 Samuel 24:12-13]. They were terrible choices. Seven years of famine, year after year watching his people die of starvation and want, seven years of famine; that was a choice. Or that invaders come into the land, the Hittites or the Egyptians or the Amorites, and for three months they ravage the land with the sword, and David himself to flee before his enemies—for three months, see his people slain, see the children violated; three months to see the land ravaged by enemies. The third choice, that there be a pestilential plague sweep over the entire length of the land for three days and the people die like flies [2 Samuel 24:12-13].
It was a terrible choice, but David said unto God, “I choose the latter. I choose the latter.” Maybe God will be merciful, and God will look upon His people, suffering and dying, and God will remember and be good and kind and merciful to His dying people [2 Samuel 24:14].
So Gad returned to the Lord and told the Lord the choice that David had made. So the plague began, and it swept over the land like a crimson tide, like a flood of death and waste; this thousand, and this ten thousand, and this fifty thousand, and these seventy thousand men—how many women, how many children, how many young people?—seventy thousand men died of the plague [2 Samuel 24:14-15].
And as that red crimson tide flooded the land and death and weeping and wailing were everywhere, the angel of judgment finally arrived at Jerusalem, and he bared his [sword] to destroy it with that unspeakable death [2 Samuel 24:16]. And he was standing at the threshing floor of Araunah on Mt. Moriah, the highest part of the city. And David saw him [2 Samuel 24:17]. And David cried unto the Lord again, “O God, O God, these helpless sheep, these my people, Lord I pray, let the sword fall against me and against my house, but spare these people” [2 Samuel 24:17].
And the prophet Gad came that day to David and said to him, “God says, go on Mt. Moriah” [2 Samuel 24:18]. How familiar that name is to us, Mt. Moriah. That was the place and the very rock where Abraham offered Isaac and God spared Isaac, and a substitution was made, and the blood of a substitute was poured out [Genesis 22:1-13]. Mt. Moriah, that was the place where Solomon reared the temple [2 Chronicles 3:1-2, 3-17], and where the sacrificial altar was built and the blood of expiation poured out [2 Chronicles 7:1-4].
The prophet said to David, “God says, ‘Go to that threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, and there on the top of that mount, build an altar and make a sacrifice’” [2 Samuel 24:18, 25]. It was a type, it was a picture, of that ultimate and final cross in which the whole atonement for the sins of the world was made by the hand of God [John 19:16-30]. “Go there,” said the prophet, “and build an altar and make a sacrifice” [2 Samuel 24:18-22]. So David, according to the word of the Lord, went up to Mt. Moriah, and Araunah the Jebusite saw him [2 Samuel 24:19-20].
Now, the Jebusite was a stranger in the land. He lived there by sufferance of the king and his people. He was an alien. When the people of Israel captured Jerusalem, doubtless with all the rest of them, he should have been slain in that battle. But Araunah lived, and he was allowed to stay and to have his home and his place in the midst of the people of Israel.
And when Araunah saw the king, he bowed himself to the ground and say, “Why? Why have you come to see me?” [2 Samuel 24:21]. And David said, “God hath told me to buy the threshing floor, and to build an altar, and to make a sacrifice that the plague may be stayed” [2 Samuel 24:21]. And Araunah said, “Nay, nay, nay, not with money, nay, not with price; I give it to you, all of it! Here is the great rock, the threshing floor,” where he beat out the grain, the top of Mt. Moriah [2 Samuel 24:22-23]. Some of you have seen that rock, the top of Mt. Moriah. “Here is the rock. Here is the threshing floor. I give it to you. And here are oxen for sacrifice [1 Chronicles 21:23]. I give them to you. And for wood, here are these threshing instruments. I give them to you. Let the king propitiate a God of judgment” [2 Samuel 24:22-23].
And how gracious, how generous, the goodness of Araunah, the stranger and the alien, but the king said to Araunah, “No, no, nay, nay; but I will buy this threshing floor. I will buy these oxen. I will buy this wood. Nay, I will surely buy it of thee at a price, for I will not offer unto my God that which doth cost me nothing!” [2 Samuel 24:24].
Immediately, just to say that sentence commends itself to every conscience; you cannot help but admire the spiritual sensibilities of the king. It rises immediately to a religious principal. “Nay, Araunah, nay, I will not offer unto the Lord that which doth cost me nothing. Nay, I will buy it of thee at a price” [2 Samuel 24:24]. And Araunah sold it, and David bought it at a price, and offered unto God that which cost him something [2 Samuel 24:25].
In the twenty-first chapter of Chronicles, I know the Lord was pleased with what David did because it says, “And God answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering” [1 Chronicles 21:26]. The Lord was pleased by what David did. The Lord is always pleased, always pleased at a sacrificial offering.
And the Lord set over against the treasury, and He watched as the people gave into the treasury of the Lord, and many out of the superfluity and the super abundance of their lives put in what cost them nothing, and the Lord watched it. And there came a poor widow, who sewed or scrubbed clothes or scrubbed floors that she might have bread to eat, and she placed in one half of one cent, a farthing, two little mites, the smallest of all of the denominations of money that were ever made [Mark 12:41-43]. And the Lord looked upon it, and the Lord called His disciples and said:
Look at that great woman. Look at that great woman. Look at her. Look at that noble woman. She hath given more than they all: For out of her penury and want did she give, out of the necessity of life did she bestow even all of her living, trusting God to feed her.
And the Lord was delighted. That is the reason we read out of the fourteenth chapter of Mark. It took a solid year’s work to buy that alabaster box of spikenard, and when it was bestowed upon the Lord and Judas said, “What waste,” our Lord said, “What love and what devotion!” And God commended Mary for breaking that alabaster box of spikenard [Mark 14:3-9; John 12:3-7]. “Neither will I offer unto the Lord that which costs me nothing” [2 Samuel 24:24]. What for God, the unwanted, the left over—oh no, the best that I have. All of us are moved by that divine religious devotion. You can’t help it. You can’t help it. You may have a heart made out of iron and a spirit made out of brass and be as callous as the world can make us, but whenever you see that gift at a cost, and that sacrifice at a price, it moves the soul. You can’t help it.
For several years, I had promised to go to Chicago last week and to help our poor struggling Southern Baptist pastors and their little churches up there in that Great Lakes region. And in the providence of time, it finally developed that I held a revival meeting, Monday through Friday, in a little tiny First Baptist, Southern Baptist Church in that vast city. I am glad that I did it. It had been years and years and years, at least twenty-five years, since I had held a meeting in a little tiny church. And especially was it good for my soul as I saw the faithful devoted witness of that little band in a vast almost illimitable sea of paganism and infidelity. And as I looked upon those people, they amazed me. They overwhelmed me!
Here was a man; there he sat; see that man; here is a man. They lacked six hundred dollars paying the gas bill to keep the house warm. They lacked six hundred dollars paying the gas bill. And that man gave fifty dollars on the gas bill, and the pastor dialed the number to thank him for the generous gift, to learn that the telephone had been disconnected. The man had not money enough to pay for a telephone, but he gave fifty dollars to help keep God’s house warm. That is the man, seated right there.
Here is a girl, sat right back of me in the choir. Time came when the GA’s, the Girl’s Auxiliaries, the GA’s, the girls in the church were preparing to go to Memphis, Tennessee, last summer for their national congress. And everything was prepared, and everything was arranged, and they learned all their steps, but they lacked forty-five dollars. And this girl, this girl, a working girl who sat right there back of me, gave the forty-five dollars that those children might have opportunity to go to the big meeting, the convocation in Memphis. Upon that Sunday, the pastor discovered she was walking home, miles, and he said, “Why are you walking home?”
“Oh, for no reason.”
And the pastor suspected; he said, “Why are you walking home? Why?” Finally she broke down and cried, “I do not have the money to buy a bus fare.”
“Why, said the pastor, “you have just given forty-five dollars for these children.”
“Yes,” she says, “Yes, I shall walk to work miles. I shall walk to work each day. I have forgone my lunch at noon each day, that I might give the forty-five dollars.”
You kind of wonder at yourself; you kind of doubt whether you are really born again or not! That is just two out of a thousand instances. “Neither will I offer unto the Lord my God that which doth cost me nothing” [2 Samuel2 4:24]. Oh, blessed, blessed people, we will never find peace of heart and peace of soul and peace of mind until we make this thing right with God. What shall I do before my Lord?
There was a man up there in that big city preaching in a revival meeting, and he noticed in the congregation the most miserable looking man he ever saw in his life. And he asked the pastor, “You see that man? He doesn’t sing. He doesn’t share in the service. What is the matter with that man? That’s the most miserable-looking man I ever saw.” And the pastor said, “You ask him. It will be a good story. You ask him. You ask him.”
So the preacher went around and stopped him after the service and bluntly told him, “I see you in the congregation. You look to me to be the most miserable man I have ever seen in my life. Is there something wrong? Why are you so unhappy?” And the man replied, “Well, preacher, I will tell you honestly. I grew up in this big city of Chicago. I slept in empty boxcars and in sheds, half-frozen most of the time and hungry all the time, and at the same time, I saw those yachts anchored out there on Michigan Bay, and I saw those rich people throwing overboard scraps that made me be hungrier! And I said, ‘Someday I shall be rich. I will buy me the biggest yacht anchored in the lake, and I will live like a king!’” And the man says, “Now I am rich. I have done that, but I am so miserable and so wretched I can hardly live.”
And the preacher said, “Why, man, God doth not bestow His gifts for such selfish, private ambition. Why do you not give yourself to God, and everything you have? Why don’t you? And try it and see.”
The last night of the meeting that man came down and knelt, and that evangelist knelt by his side, and he prayed a simple prayer. “O Lord God, O Lord God, I bow before Thee tonight. Lord, I give Thee myself. Forgive my sins, and give me peace in my heart, and I give Thee all that I have.” And the Lord answered from heaven.
I counted dollars while God counted crosses.
I counted gains while He counted losses.
I counted my wealth by the things gained in store.
But He valued me by the scars that I bore.
I counted the honors and sought for ease.
He wept while He counted the hours on my knees.
And I never knew until one day by a grave,
How vain are those things we spend a lifetime to save.
“Neither will I offer unto the Lord my God, that which doth cost me nothing” [2 Samuel 24:24]. Lord, my hands, my soul, my life, all, Lord, I devote to thee. And God will answer by fire [2 Chronicles 7:1]. While we sing our hymn of appeal, somebody give his heart in trust to Jesus [Ephesians 2:8], somebody to put his life in the fellowship of the church, somebody to give himself anew to Jesus, to come, to bow in prayer, while we sing this appeal, would you make it now? On the first note of the first stanza: “Here I come, pastor, and here I am.” Make it this morning, this holy and precious hour. Make it now, come, while we stand and while we sing.
THAT WHICH DOTH COST ME NOTHING
Dr. W.A. Criswell
2 Samuel 24:1-25
I. David’s sin in numbering the people resulted in one of three choices for judgment from God
1. Seven years of famine
2. Enemies to occupy and waste the land for three months
3. Pestilence and plague on the people
II. David knew being placed into the hands of God, there would be mercy in the judgment
III. David entreats God to stop the judgment
IV. God tells David to erect an altar on the threshing floor on Mt. Moriah
V. Araunah offers to give David the land and the sacrifice
VI. David refuses and tells Araunah that he will purchase the land for full price
VII. Examples from Scripture of giving to God