Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Sacrifice that Costs Me ... What?

Second Samuel 24 has this account of God punishing Israel with a plague after King David ordered a census of the fighting men. Though I have known this story for years, my understanding of what got them into the situation is still not completely clear … because the scriptures are rather vague about that part (read it yourself and you’ll see). I’ve studied it in multiple translations and have heard it preached multiple times. I’ve read and heard a number of opinions that all make sense; but they are all plausible conjecture at best – neither contradicted nor explicitly supported by the text. We’ll pick it up in the GNB where it becomes very clear.

18 That same day Gad went to David and said to him, Go up to Araunah's threshing place and build an altar to the Lord. 19 David obeyed the Lord's command and went as Gad had told him to.
20 Araunah looked down and saw the king and his officials coming up to him. He threw himself on the ground in front of David 21 and asked, Your Majesty, why are you here? David answered, To buy your threshing place and build an altar for the Lord, in order to stop the epidemic.
22 Take it, Your Majesty, Araunah said, and offer to the Lord whatever you wish. Here are these oxen to burn as an offering on the altar; here are their yokes and the threshing boards to use as fuel. 23 Araunah gave it all to the king and said to him, May the Lord your God accept your offering.
24 But the king answered, No, I will pay you for it. I will not offer to the Lord my God sacrifices that have cost me nothing. And he bought the threshing place and the oxen for fifty pieces of silver. 25 Then he built an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. The Lord answered his prayer, and the epidemic in Israel was stopped.

I highlighted the part that has caused this story to stick in my mind for all these years. It’s the basis of the primary thought in my philosophy of Ministry through Music:
The worship of God and the communication of the message of the Gospel are worthy of nothing less than the very best and highest art that we can possibly muster (regardless the “style” definition with which any of it can be tagged).
It is because God is worthy of more than we can possibly give that we devote our time and effort to learning and refining music for the purpose of leading our people in the worship of God and communicating the message of the Gospel. If it’s just about “what I like” or “how it makes me feel,” then showing up just when it’s convenient or when we feel like it is fine. But if it’s about giving God the glory due his name, then it’s worth any cost, any inconvenience. Scripture calls it a “sacrifice of praise” for a reason.

That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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