God relented! He has called a halt to the pestilence and spared Jerusalem. David is to build an alter at the spot the angel stood when mercy was delivered; the mercy spot.
How many of us know exactly where we were when God granted us mercy? David was because God let him see the angel who was tasked with delivering the consequence of his sin. He even cried out to God for the angel to spare the people and take him and his family instead. I wonder if David’s request moved God’s heart to halt the angel or if He had already relented. Did God stop the angel, then let David see it or was this process reversed?
David’s heart was changed that day. He had already repented of his sin. He had chosen the punishment he felt best fit “his” desires. For three days he had listened as reports came in from all over Israel about the death toll. Now he saw ‘in person’ the price of his sin. He saw the angel poised to strike down the men, women and children in the city he called his own. And his heart broke at the thought of all his people paying the price for his sin.
He called out to the only one who could help. With the only answer he felt was appropriate. “Punish me and spare them!” He didn’t ask God to still His hand, just redirect it. He called his sin what it was too. He called it “wicked” instead of “foolish.” He knew there was a price to be paid for that sin but felt it was his alone to pay. He demonstrated responsibility and love.
God listened to David’s plea. He went a step further by calling the debt paid and keeping His angel from David’s house too. But He wanted David to remember this lesson. He sent Gad to David again. “Go up, raise an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite” (verse 18b).
This was the spot where the angel stood with his sword drawn. The place where God held him fast. The place where mercy won! A place that would live forever in David’s heart and mind. David would gladly fulfill God’s command.
David came to the place where God had specified the altar be built. Did he bring Levites with him or did he plan on building this altar and making this sacrifice with his own hands? Because of being in trouble to begin with, I’m thinking he brought along help. He probably remembered well the lesson of the “right way” to do things from his experience with bringing the Ark into Jerusalem.
When David came to the place God had commanded, he didn’t take it by force or coercion. He asked to purchase it instead. Araunah was more than willing to give it to the king with no thought to compensation. But David wouldn’t hear of it. “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (verse 24b).
David used what he had purchased to make the altar and the sacrifice. He did as Araunah had suggested with the things he now owned. This altar would serve David over the years. I believe this is so because of the ‘s’ on the end of the two different types of offerings David offered there. “David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings” (verse 25a). This lesson would stay with David and when he was reminded of it he would return to this place and offer thanks to the Lord again.
So do you have an answer for the question I asked in the beginning? Do you have a time in your life where you can point to a spot where you received mercy? I do. I have many but none as dramatic as David’s but they are still important to me. They remind me of the love of my Father. The one who saw me in pain and reached down into my life to minister to me.
Father God, thank You that You care about EVERY aspect of my life. Thank You that I can bring all my concerns to You and You will listen. Thank You for changing my heart in those times too. MANY of my ‘had times’ were lessons I needed to learn and refused to learn any other way. Just like David, I labeled my sin as “foolish” instead of what it truly was; “wicked.” THANK YOU for the mercy You showed me in dealing with those sins too! I could have been counted among the dead, but wasn’t.