No Shortcuts Back to God
Lord, help me to consider what I offer to You and to give a worthy sacrifice.
Read: 2 SAMUEL 24:18-25
 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite."  So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad.  When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.  Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?" "To buy your threshing floor," David answered, "so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped."  Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. Your Majesty, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the LORD your God accept you."  But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.  David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
Reflect: How does this passage apply to your life?
David knows his God. He knows that God responds to a humble and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). David sees the impact of his sin on the people (17) and he takes full responsibility for what has happened.
Often, when we make mistakes, our first thought is to try to return to normality as quickly as possible. Sometimes this can cause us to miss important steps in healing a relationship, whether with another person or with God. Had David accepted Araunah's offer to supply the sacrifice, perhaps that would have been sufficient. But David would not settle for a tokenistic response. His repentance had to be expressed through costly sacrifice. The Lord responds to David's prayer and health is restored to the nation (25).
When we try to take shortcuts in relationships they can easily become superficial. Not only his personal relationship with God, but the good of the nation depended on David's thoroughness in dealing with his mistake. He insists on paying for the sacrifice. So 2 Samuel, through David, can end where 1 Samuel, through Hannah, began: with honesty in prayer, and trust in the faithfulness of God.
Consider any places in which you have taken shortcuts in relationships, with God or others. Set it right.
Lord, may the river of Your life flow without hindrance through me to a thirsty world.
Syndicated via Scripture Union