WORSHIP (Part 3)

By Evan Pyle

... neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God
of that which doth cost me nothing...
(2 Samuel 24:24)

The great King David refused a gift of property offered to him for use in making sacrifices to the Lord. The owner of the property was a heathen Jebusite who had seen the great power of the God of Israel. He willingly offered his property, animals and tools. Yet David refused to accept these gifts without price. David’s attitude concerning the cost of worship is a lesson the Church needs today.

Prior to this, David had sinned in ordering a census of his populace and fighting men. He persisted in this prideful folly even though Joab, the head of Israel’s military forces, advised him against this plan.

2 Samuel 24:3-4:
And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
4 Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.

After Joab carried out this task, verse 10 says that David’s heart “smote him” and he confessed to the Lord that he had sinned greatly. One of the traits that made David a “man after God’s own heart” was his repentant character. David, like others before and after him, was a great leader, warrior and statesman. But the quality that most distinguished him in the eyes of the Lord was the condition of his heart. He proved himself to be of a humble and repentant attitude before God. David, despite his faults, truly walked in the fear of the Lord. Nevertheless, David’s sin resulted in dire consequences which fell on his people in the form of a grievous plague. When David interceded for his people, God sent the prophet Gad with instructions for David to rear up an altar to the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.

vv. 18-24:
And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
19 And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.
20 And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.
21 And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
22 And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.
23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.
24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

How about you? What has worshipping God cost you? If you were in David’s place would you accept the “gift” and worship the Lord without cost? I fear that much of the church is worshipping without cost. Sunday worship often looks more like a party than a serious seeking to do the will of God. While many are offering the convenient, easy and fun, the Lord is calling on His people to offer the best, the highest and the purest. In true worship there is no holding back.

Romans 12:1:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Our minimum response to God’s grace, called here our “reasonable service,” is nothing less than a living sacrifice. There is no holding back for God’s elect. God’s minimum is no less than our all.

The children of Israel had a worship problem in the days of Malachi. The root of the problem was their failure to both properly honor and fear the Lord, as pointed out in Malachi 1:6. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?” The prophet, by the word of the Lord, confronted the condition of their hearts as revealed by their second-rate offerings. God demanded their best and purest but they offered the polluted, the blind and the lame. When confronted they offered excuses rather than repenting. “Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick” (v. 13).

If we find worship a “weariness” we too should examine the condition of our own hearts. The priests’ poor offerings revealed their lack of honor and fear of the Lord. Malachi declared that, in contrast to Israel’s contempt, the Lord’s name would be great among the heathen. “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts” (v. 11). The Gentiles’ offering would be pure because God would remove their hard, worldly hearts and replace them with a “new spirit.”

Ezekiel 11:19:
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

Romans 2:14-15a:
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts....

These two scriptures point to a day, which now is, when the true worshippers will worship God in spirit and in truth. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn. 4:23).

New forms of more exuberant and expressive public worship have been introduced into the Church. Proponents often refer to this kind of worship as “Davidic,” referring to King David’s unbridled joy and spontaneity when he “danced before the Lord with all his might.” However, the reason for his all-out worship has been misunderstood. David was leading the procession that brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. His previous attempt to move the ark had been disastrous. David’s exuberance was not simply evidence of intense joy, but was also borne of a holy fear of God and respect for His holy presence.

The honest question we should ask ourselves is whether we really want to give the Lord our utmost and best in worship? If so, the only reasonable response is to “do a Romans 12:1,” meaning to offer ourselves a living sacrifice. The Lord will not receive our second-rate offerings but commands we “honor him with the firstfruits of our increase.” This applies to all the ways God increases us, whether it be in our harvest of grain or in spiritual gifts. Offering to God our blessed and redeemed lives as a living sacrifice is our holy act of worship. No longer are we satisfied to offer the Lord a mere token or afterthought as worship, for we will not offer him that which costs us nothing. Let us determine to offer nothing less than our lives as a living sacrifice.

Matthew 16:25:
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 10:38:
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Hebrews 13:15:
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.



From the March 2007 issue of The Vine & Branches