Why did David insist on paying for the threshing floor? (1 Chronicles 21:24) 24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
When we seek to understand a single verse like 1 Chronicles 21:24, it is important to read the entire event in 1 Chronicles 21:1-30, so we can put the verse in its proper context. David was in big trouble. He had allowed Satan to incite him to order a census of the nation of Israel (v1). This command was evil in the sight of God; so God punished Israel (v7). Then David confessed his sin to God "I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing" (v8). God gave David 3 options and let him choose which one to carry out against him (v10). The options were 3 years of famine, 3 months of being attacked and defeated by their enemies, or 3 days of the sword of the Lord - a plague in the land ravaging every part of Israel (v12). David chose the sword of the Lord (v13). God sent a plague that killed 70,000 men of Israel (v14). God also sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. As the angel began destroying the people of Jerusalem, God saw it and relented saying "Enough! Withdraw your hand" (v15). This is exactly what David had hoped for when he said "I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great" (v13). At the moment when God said "Enough" the angel was standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David saw the angel standing between heaven and earth with drawn sword extended over Jerusalem (v16). David, clothed in sackcloth, pleaded with God "I, the Shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family but do not let this plague remain on your people" (v17). So the angel ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (v18) [the exact place where God stopped the plague]. So, in obedience, David went up there. David said to Araunah, "Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price" (v22). Araunah offered to give David everything he would need for the sacrifices at no cost (v23). But David replied "No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that cost me nothing" (v24). So David paid 600 shekels of gold for the site (v25). David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the Lord and the Lord answered with fire from heaven on the altar (v26). Then the Lord told the angel to put his sword back into its sheath (v27). David offered sacrifices there instead of at the tabernacle of the Lord on the high place at Gibeon because he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord (v28-30). It was David's sin that led to God's judgement and punishment. But David confessed his sin. In order for his sin to be covered he needed to offer the proper sacrifices to God. This was always done at the tabernacle of the Lord at Gibeon. But God told David to build a new altar at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. A sacrifice that doesn't cost anything is not a sacrifice at all. David understood that to demonstrate his repentance and his faith in the mercy of God, he needed to pay for the site and supply the oxen, threshing sledges and wheat for the offerings. God was pleased with David's sacrifice and the plague stopped.
This same incident is also recounted in 2 Samuel 24. David was aware that the plague with which Israel was being afflicted was a judgment from God against his own prideful sin in ordering a census of Israel. Therefore, in building the altar to God that would be symbolic of his repentance (so that the plague might be stopped), David insisted on paying for the threshing floor on which the altar was built, as well as for the animals to be sacrificed, and the threshing sledges that were employed during the normal use of the floor (even though the owner of the ground (Araunah the Jebusite) offered to give them all to him for free) so that the cost would represent a tangible sacrifice on David's own part, in order to materially demonstrate his own recognition of responsibility for the plague, and his repentance for it.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.