Verses 18–25

Here is, I. A command sent to David to erect an altar in the place where he saw the angel, 2 Sam. 24:18. This was to intimate to David, 1. That, upon his repeated submission and humiliation, God was now thoroughly reconciled to him; for, if the Lord had been pleased to kill him, he would not have accepted an offering, and therefore would not have ordered him to build an altar. God’s encouraging us to offer to him spiritual sacrifices is a comfortable evidence of his reconciling us to himself. 2. That peace is made between God and sinners by sacrifice, and not otherwise, even by Christ the great propitiation, of whom all the legal sacrifices were types. It is for his sake that the destroying angel is told to stay his hand. 3. That when God’s judgments are graciously stayed we ought to acknowledge it with thankfulness to his praise. This altar was to be for thank-offerings. See Isa. 12:1.

II. The purchase which David made of the ground in order hereunto. It seems the owner was a Jebusite, Araunah by name, proselyted no doubt to the Jewish religion, though by birth a Gentile, and therefore allowed, not only to dwell among the Israelites, but to have a possession of his own in a city, Lev. 25:29, 30. The piece of ground was a threshing-floor, a mean place, yet thus dignified—a place of labour, therefore thus dignified. Now,

1. David went in person to the owner, to treat with him. See his justice, that he would not so much as use this place in the present exigence, though the proprietor was an alien, though he himself was a king, and though he had express orders from God to rear an altar there, till he had bought it and paid for it. God hates robbery for burnt-offering. See his humility, how far he was from taking state; though a king, he was now a penitent, and therefore, in token of his self-abasement, he neither sent for Araunah to come to him nor sent another to deal with him, but went himself (2 Sam. 24:19), and, though it looked like a diminution of himself, he lost no honour by it. Araunah, when he saw him, went and bowed himself to the ground before him 2 Sam. 24:20. Great men will never be the less respected for their humility, but the more.

2. Araunah, when he understood his business (2 Sam. 24:21), generously offered him, not only the ground to build his altar on, but oxen for sacrifices, and other things that might be of use to him in the service (2 Sam. 24:22), and all this gratis, and a good prayer into the bargain: The Lord thy God accept thee! This he did, (1.) Because he had a generous spirit with a great estate. He gave as a king (2 Sam. 24:23); though an ordinary subject, he had the spirit of a prince. In the Hebrew it is, He gave, even the king to the king, whence it is supposed that Araunah had been king of the Jebusites in that place, or was descended from their royal family, though now a tributary to David. (2.) Because he highly esteemed David, though his conqueror, upon the score of his personal merits, and never thought he could do too much to oblige him. (3.) Because he had an affection for Israel, and earnestly desired that the plague might be stayed; and the honour of its being stayed at his threshing-floor, he would account a valuable consideration for all he now tendered to David. 3. David resolved to pay the full value of it, and did so, 2 Sam. 24:24. Here were two generous souls well met. Araunah is very willing to give; but David is determined to buy, and for a good reason: he will not offer that to God which costs him nothing. He would not take advantage of the pious Jebusite’s generosity. He thanked him, no doubt, for his kind offer, but paid him fifty shekels of silver for the floor and the oxen for the present service, and afterwards 600 shekels of gold for the ground adjoining, to build the temple on. Note, Those know not what religion is whose chief care it is to make it cheap and easy to themselves, and who are best pleased with that which costs them least pains or money. What have we our substance for but to honour God with it? and how can it be better bestowed?

III. The building of the altar, and the offering of the proper sacrifices upon it (2 Sam. 24:25), burnt-offerings to the glory of God’s justice in the execution that had been done, and peace-offerings to the glory of his mercy in the seasonable staying of the process. Hereupon God showed (it is supposed by fire from heaven consuming the sacrifices) that he was entreated for the land, and that it was in mercy that the plague was removed and in token of God’s being reconciled both to prince and people. Christ is our altar, our sacrifice; in him alone we may expect to find favour with God, to escape his wrath, and the sword, the flaming sword, of the cherubim who keep the way of the tree of life.