“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 threshingfloor 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 threshingfloor 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; 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 threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 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 24:17-25).
We have already noted how David had to pay the price for his sin regarding the military census, but here we find him willing to pay the full price for the land where the future temple would stand. This is the place where David rededicates himself to the Lord.
Here we read of David’s repentance and God’s response to it. As soon as people truly repents the Lord will restore and heal the land, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14) – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). David repented for his sin and the grief that he had caused the people through it. Notice though that he did not make any excuses for what he had done but saw it in the full light of God’s holiness. He could have blamed the people, for God was angry with them for their own wickedness, but to do so would only be a bluff to play down his own guilt (2 Samuel 24:1).
The prophet Gad gave David God’s word about building a humble altar, which we know would one day be Israel’s official worship centre. As we have noted, the altar was to be built on the exact spot where the Lord revealed His mercy and stopped the plague.
As king, David could have easily demanded that Araunah give him the land, and though this man did offer it free of charge, David realised that there was a price to be paid. He paid Araunah fifty shekels of silver. This figure is probably the weight of the money David paid for the threashingfloor rather than an actual fifty silver coins, for in 1 Chronicles 21:24-25 we read, “And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost. So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.” Some commentators believe that two transactions took place that day: David paid the silver for the animals for sacrifice and the gold for the land, but that does not fit well with the account. While it is possible that he gave Araunah (Ornan) both amounts, it is more likely that the weight of the single transaction is being referred to by the different authors.
David was not going to serve God on the cheap as so many today think is acceptable. Sacrifice is always costly. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). Paying the full price was a sign that David had truly repented and was devoted to the Lord.
Notice that the sacrifice offered was not bloodless, so the very first act on the foundation of the future temple was a blood sacrifice. This was the only way that God was going to accept as a holy offering unto Him. It was the only sacrifice that held back His sword of judgement.1 Chronicles 21:26-27 reveals that God was pleased with the offering, “And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.” As Christians we know that the last sacrifice offered in Jerusalem was the final one God would accept as the full payment for sin. “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7) … “For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:17) … “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).
It is interesting to note that whenever Mount Moriah is mentioned in Scripture it is always in reference to a price that has to be paid. Abraham was willing to offer Isaac there, David sacrificed there, Solomon built the temple there, and it was the exact place where Jesus was offered the world if only He would submit to Satan. There is a price to be paid if we are going to follow and serve the Lord too. We have to count “the cost” for “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” said Jesus (Luke 14:28, 33) … “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
At the moment on Mount Moriah stands the “Abomination of Desolation” otherwise known as the Mosque of Omar and the Dome of the Rock (Mark 13:14), but King Jesus dealt with Satan there once and will do so again. The Messiah, the Son of David, will reign as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).