Today’s reading is drawn from 1 Chronicles 21:18-30.
God wants his people to remember how his dwelling place came to be in Jerusalem — the richness, the history — and why his heart is there. So the Chronicler continues recounting the story.
As David settles into Jerusalem, he is struck by the differences between his home and the tent where God’s ark dwells. He wants to build God a house. The prophet Nathan, David’s spiritual adviser, hears from the Lord that night. God is pleased with David’s idea, and God is going to build David’s house — his family line — forever. But, David’s son will be the one to build God’s house.
Honored and humbled, David praises the God who has been too good to him.
In every battle David fights, God gives him the victory. Still, Satan successfully tempts him to count his fighting men — to trust in his own strength rather than God’s. God is betrayed, angry. There is a penalty for David’s distrust, and God allows David to choose it. Rather than a three-year famine or three months of war, David chooses the third punishment — three days of “the sword of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:12) through plague. David knows God will be merciful.
God’s angel travels throughout Israel, slaying people. Arriving in Jerusalem, the angel is about to begin killing the residents of the city. God interrupts. “Stop! Enough!” God spares Jerusalem. David buys the plot of land where the angel stops and worships there.
The King’s Heart
God’s angel stood over Araunah’s threshing floor — sword drawn, battle ready.
“Stop! Enough!” God commanded him.
This command echoes an order God had given to a knife-drawn father generations before. Abraham was poised and ready to slay his own son because God had told him to. “Stop! Put down your knife!” God’s angel had said.
God’s angel had given that command to Abraham at the very same place: on Mount Moriah, or Araunah’s threshing floor.
Perhaps, centuries later, as the sword-drawn angel was poised over that familiar mountain, God remembered the deep faith and love of the father who was willing to give him his most precious possession — his everything.
And perhaps God looked forward to that same place in Jerusalem where his own Son would walk. Perhaps he looked to the day in Jerusalem when he would not stay his hand, a day when the blood of his own Son would mingle with the dirt.
The place was too meaningful, too sacred — too much love had been and would be shared there. It was precious to him. So God stayed his hand.
Solomon built God’s glory-temple on Mount Moriah, the site of Araunah’s threshing floor (see 2 Chronicles 3:1).