1 Chronicles 21:1-30; Romans 3:1-8; Psalms 12:1-5; Proverbs 5:15-21
OT: “Then David said to Ornan, “Give me this threshing-floor plot so that I may build an altar to the Lord on it. Give it to me for the full price, so the plague on the people may be stopped.” Ornan said to David, “Take it! My lord the king may do whatever he wants. See, I give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering — I give it all.” King David answered Ornan, “No, I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David gave Ornan fifteen pounds of gold for the plot. He built an altar to the Lord there and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the Lord, and he answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.” (1 Chronicles 21:22-26 CSB)
At one point in King David’s reign, he was moved to conduct a military census of the nation. For some reason, unknown to us, that decision to take a census was considered a grave sin. Taking a census was not sinful, for God had instructed Israel in times past to number its people – so there must have been something sinful in David’s motivation. Perhaps it was pride, and the census was a way for David to boast in his accomplishments. Or perhaps it was a lack of faith in God, and David felt compelled to number the size of his army to alleviate his anxiety instead of trusting in the Lord. Either way, the census was a grievous sin and God disciplined David because of it. In order to assuage the consequences and appeal to God’s mercies, the Lord directed David to offer a sacrifice in worship to God at Ornan’s threshing floor. Ornan’s threshing floor was in a very significant place. It was atop Mt. Moriah in the same place Abraham offered his son Isaac some 1,000 years earlier. When David approached Ornan, Ornan was willing to give David the land along with the oxen and wood for the offering. David refused Ornan’s offer and insisted on paying the full market value for the land and the oxen. David knew that a costless offering would not be accepted as worship. True and authentic worship required genuine sacrifice. Once David paid full price for the land and oxen, and offered his sacrifice, God accepted David’s worship by sending down fire from heaven to consume everything that was on the altar.
One thousand years earlier, when Abraham worshipped God in that same spot, Abraham offered what was most dear to his heart: he offered his son of promise… his heir… the one who would carry his legacy into the future… the fulfillment of God’s promise to him. By offering his son, Abraham demonstrated that he had complete faith and trust in God – and because of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice all, God attributed to him righteousness and established him as the father of faith. True and authentic worship is a renunciation of self-reliance and self-righteousness, and a declaration of complete submission, faith, and trust in the Lord. True and authentic worship is costly. The Apostle Paul taught in Romans 12, that the only reasonable act of worship that we can give is to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. That is a costly and painful act. Everything in our flesh tries to talk us out of that depth of surrender… every ounce of self-preservation that resides in our being wants to run away from that depth of surrender. True and authentic worship involves us letting go of our wishes, our passions, our desires in order to grab hold of God and His wishes, passions, and desires. It seems that what we call worship these days has nothing to do with sacrifice, but everything to do with self appeasement. In many circles, worship has become all about self-indulgence and gorging on the good feelings that come as we “soak” in God’s presence, instead of emptying ourselves before God, sacrificing our desires and aligning our lives with His purposes. Is my worship costing me anything? Is my worship experience all about me, or do I place me at the altar and trust the Lord with His provision – like Abraham of old? As Jesus said, the Father is looking or worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and truth. I want to be one of those worshippers who offers all to Him and allows Him to set my life ablaze for His glory.