Are you familiar with the account of David acquiring the land upon which the temple was built? It is quite a strange story. The events that led up to the acquisition of the land started with David being tempted to take a census of Israel. Buying a piece of land for God’s temple was the farthest thing from his mind.
Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number.” Joab said, “May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?” 1 Chronicles 21: 1 – 3
Joab’s response indicates that at that time in Israel, under those particular circumstances, it was a wicked thing for the king to take a census. It was an offense to God. It was an indication, perhaps, that the king was relying on the numbers of his people rather than on God, for the security of the nation. The sin of David was dealt with by God, but only after the nine month long census had occurred.
So when they had gone about through the whole land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days…Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” 2 Samuel 24: 8, 10
David ordered the census and did not listen to Joab, who advised him not to do it. Nine months later David recognized his sin and repented to God, asking God to take the sin away. God then responded in a most mysterious way.
When David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and speak to David, ‘Thus the LORD says, “I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.” ‘ ” So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.” Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 2 Samuel 24: 11 – 14
David chose the three day penalty and God smote the land.
So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” 2 Samuel 24: 15 – 17
Even though David chose three days’ worth of pestilence, he regretted asking God to smite the land and he pleaded with God to only punish him. God then responded in mercy and grace, granting David the ability to make a sacrifice as an offering.
So Gad came to David that day and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” David went up according to the word of Gad, just as the LORD had commanded. Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants crossing over toward him; and Araunah went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king. Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be held back from the people.” Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what is good in his sight. Look, the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel. 2 Samuel 24: 18 – 25
This land that David bought, to build an altar on and offer sacrifices to God, became the land where his son Solomon would build the temple.
Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2 Chronicles 3: 1
In other words, a story which started with David’s sin ended with the purchase of the land where the temple, God’s chosen place for the atonement of sin to occur, would be located. If this was all the story was about, it would be important enough on its own. But beyond this historical reading there is an additional interpretation, an additional layer of meaning. The whole story alludes to the gospel story and includes third day typology. Consider this:
|David sinned against God by taking a census
||Adam sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit
|David’s sin brought a pestilence upon the land of Israel
||Adam’s sin caused all of humanity to be born under the curse of sin and death
|On the third day, David interceded for the people and God stopped the plague.
||On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and appeased the wrath of God
There is no doubt that this account of David is an odd one. Satan tempts him to take a census and he does. God allows David to choose one of three punishments for his sin, and he chooses the one that lasts for three days and which he knows will afflict the people he rules over. He repents, offers prayer and sacrifices to God, and purchases the land where the temple would be built. This land was purchased on the third day. And this land was on Mount Moriah – the same Mount Moriah upon which Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, an event which pointed ahead to Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death. It was the same Mount Moriah that Abraham called, according to Genesis 22: 14, “The LORD Will Provide”.