The Threshing-Floor of Ornan the Jebusite: Part 2

 •  19 min. read  •  grade level: 8
1 Chronicles 21
Verses 1-6. “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said unto Joab and the elders of the people, Go number Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. And Joab answered, The Lord make this people an hundred times so many more than they be; but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? Why, then, doth my lord require this thing? Why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel? Nevertheless the king's hand prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the number unto David; and all they of Israel were a thousand thousand, and an hundred thousand men that drew sword; and Judah was four hundred threescore, and ten thousand men that drew sword. But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them, for the king's word was abominable to Joab.”
At the time when this scene opens, the sword of David and of Israel had been victorious over all their enemies. The Philistines had been subdued—Moab had brought gifts—garrisons were put in Damascus, and the Syrians, as also the Edomites, had become David's servants. With all promised blessings the house of God's servant had been blest, and naught of the goodness of which the Lord had spoken to him had failed. “The fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.”
But Satan, we read, too soon serves himself of all this; and Israel proves again that man utterly without strength is unable even to hold a blessing. The gifts with which their gracious Lord had thus endowed Israel, and which had been ordained for their comfort and His praise, became, through the craft and subtlety of the devil, an occasion to them of self-congratulation and pride, as to Adam of old. (Gen. 3:1-81Now the serpent was more subtile than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:1‑8).) For David's heart in all this was moved by the old lie— “ye shall be as gods.” Anything for poor fallen man but the living God! “. Nay, but we will have a king to reign over us,” said Israel to Samuel of old, rejecting Jehovah-Christ, “that we also may be like all the nations.” (1 Sam. 8:19, 2019Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 20That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. (1 Samuel 8:19‑20).) But the Lord will not give His glory to another—none have ever forsaken Him, and prospered—as it is written, “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many, and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord.” (Isa. 31:11Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! (Isaiah 31:1).) “The Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose.” (Isa. 30:77For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still. (Isaiah 30:7).) David here, like Hezekiah afterward, in the pride of his heart, would exhibit his magnificence, and, like a child of this world, in the unbelief of self-confidence, would survey his resources.
The infatuation in which David was sunk is marked by the fact of Joab expostulating with him; for though a man of blood, and eminently one of the children of this world, as all his policy bespeaks him, yet wiser far in his generation, looking not to the ungodliness so much as to the impolicy of this purposed wickedness of the king, Joab at once discovers that which his master refuses to see.1
The whole system of Israel, by this national transgression, was now defiled and tainted, and ripe for severity or judgment; this pride was the giving up of God, and God would have been dealing righteously had He at once laid Israel aside, as He did Adam, in such a case— “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Verses 7-14. “And God was displeased with this thing; therefore be smote Israel. And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away, the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done foolishly. And the Lord spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying, Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, choose thee either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me. And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait; let me fall now into the hand of the Lord, for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel, and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.”
For nine long months the pride of the king's heart deceived him (2 Sam. 24:88So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. (2 Samuel 24:8)); as, alas! lust had before dimmed his eye for the same time. He had too long walked in the ways of his heart, and in the sight of his eyes; but after his hardness and impenitency was but treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of the righteous judgment of God, now about to be revealed. Sinners should be stopped in their course by the remembrance that God, though He suffers long, “hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness.”
But David, as a child of God, might be tempted, overtaken in a fault, and thus brought to shame and grief, but could not be left impenitent. (Luke 22:88And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. (Luke 22:8)k.) And so Israel, as God's nation, could not be consumed, because God's gifts and calling are without repentance (Born. xi. 29), because His compassion towards them could not fail. (Lau]. iii. 22.) Their transgressions were to be visited with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes, but the divine loving-kindness was not to be utterly taken from David and his nation. (Psa. 89:3333Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. (Psalm 89:33).) Correction is ever in covenant love. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth, and therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:22You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (Amos 3:2).) To walk comfortably, and without interruption, as in an even path, we must walk watchfully as with the Lord. Had David walked still in his integrity, and humbly with his God, he would have been spared this discipline; but now “he must bear the rod.” And he is required to choose the rod; by this much grace might be exercised in his soul; he would by this be brought to consider well the fruit of his transgressions, and thus be more humbled and broken in spirit, and he would also have occasion to encourage himself afresh in the Lord who was slaying him, as we find he did.
But corrected he must be, and that too just in the place of his transgression; having boasted of his thousands, his thousands must be diminished. God would now number to the sword whom David had numbered to his pride. And so the day of the Lord is to be upon every one that is proud and lifted up. (Isa. 2:1212For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: (Isaiah 2:12).)
Verse 15. “And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it; and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld; and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
In this verse we have the threshing-floor of Ornan first brought within view, a mean spot in itself, but destined of the Lord to be the joy of the whole earth, the place of the glory, the rest of God and His Israel. It presents itself to us at once as the witness of that blessed precious truth, which is the sure ground of all our hopes, that with our God “mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:1313For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:13).) The whole system of Israel had, as we have observed, exposed itself to the severity or displacing judgment of the Lord; He might have broken it at once as a vessel wherein was no pleasure, He might have taken away His vineyard from His unthankful and wicked husbandmen; but “mercy rejoiceth against judgment” in the bosom of their God: He repents Him of the evil with which His people, “because of their transgressions and because of their iniquity, were now afflicted,” and He commands the destroying angel to stay his hand by this threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
Here the same mercy displays itself as that which shone out on rained condemned Adam in the garden. He had there no plea to plead with the Lord, all that remained for him was to fly and be concealed, if that were possible; when in the bosom of the Lord mercy rises over judgment, and He decrees that “the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” (Gen. 3:1515And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15).) Often do the scriptures, as here, present our covenant God and Father, opening, as it were, His own heart, and showing His thoughts to His people how kind they are; as He says within Himself concerning the husbandmen of His vineyard, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved Son.” (See also Jer. 3:1919But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. (Jeremiah 3:19).) O that we may drink, at this fountain of Israel, the love of the Father—the spring-head of all the healing waters that visit us.
Verses 16,17. “And David lifted up his eyes, and sew the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces; and David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me and on my father's house, but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.”
David as yet was not given to read the secrets of his God and Savior; the grace that was rejoicing in the bosom of his covenant God over him was not as yet opened to him; all that he saw was the fearful agent of death and ruin hanging over his city and people. And oh how often an afflicted soul is thus reduced, how often does the eye fix itself on the cloud that darkens all around, without a single glimpse of the bright and peaceful heavens that lie beyond it, not knowing, or refusing to know,
“The clouds they so much dread,
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on their head.”
Verse 18. “Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshing-floor of Oman the Jebusite.”
“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).) The relief for David in this dark hour is announced by the angel of destruction: the eater himself yields meat, the strong man sweetness. The law itself prophesied of Jesus, who was to displace it, as here the altar was to displace the angel who directed it.
An altar needs a priest, or an accepted worshipper; the Lord would not have directed the one, if He had not provided the other. “The Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering.” (Gen. 4:44And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: (Genesis 4:4).) His person was first accepted, and then his sacrifice; and here the Lord's readiness to receive an offering at the hand of David was the pledge that David himself, through mercy rejoicing against judgment, had been received, and his iniquity put away. “If the Lord had been pleased to kill him, he would not have received a burnt-offering or a meat-offering at his hand.” (Judg. 13:2323But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these. (Judges 13:23).)
Verses 19-26. “And David went up at the saying of Gad which he spake in the name of the Lord. And Oman turned back and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Oman was threshing wheat, and as David came to Oman, Oman looked and saw David, and went out of the threshing-floor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground. Then David said to Oman, Grant me the place of this threshing-floor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord; thou shalt grant it me for the full price, that the plague may be stayed from the people. And Oman said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes. Lo, I give thee the oxen for burnt-offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat-offering—I give it all. And king David said to Oman, Nay, but I will verily buy it for the full price; for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt-offerings without cost. So David gave to Oman for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight: and David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, and called upon the Lord; and be answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt-offerings.”
These verses present to us David's thankful believing acceptance of the mercy revealed to him. He received not the grace of God in vain. He at once went up at the saying of the prophet, while Oman and his sons hid themselves from the angel. Here we may observe, that while no flesh can stand naked, as in its own resources, before the Lord, yet that sinners may come fully up to His heavenly presence in the power of simply believing in His grace. Oman and David here illustrate this; Oman had not the grace of the Lord revealed to him, he knew nothing of the altar that was to be set up in his threshing-floor, and therefore as nakedly a creature in the sight of God-like Adam before in such a case—he hid himself. But David knew the remedy which mercy rejoicing against judgment had provided, and therefore he dares to stand, though shamed and humbled; without distraction he fulfills his appointed service, he purchases the threshing-floor, prepares the altar, offers his offering, and calls upon the Lord. The sword, still unsheathed, has no alarms for him now; believing, he is not ashamed or confounded; he stands to see God's salvation; his soul is brought simply to be a receiver of grace which God Himself brings nigh to him. Hence we see in all his action no disturbance or motion of the flesh, but all is the assurance and quietness of faith resting in the word of the Lord. And the Lord gives him his answer before he calls, and hears him while he is yet speaking. (Isa. 65:2424And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24).)
Verse 27. “And the Lord commanded the angel, and he put hp his sword again into the sheath thereof.”
The reconciliation was complete; being justified by faith, there was peace for David with God. As the accusings of the adversary, the demands of the law, the complaints and howlings of conscience, are all and forever to be silenced by the voice of the blood of sprinkling, which tells us that with our God “mercy rejoiceth against judgment;” so, as soon as David had trusted in this grace, as soon as he had built his altar in the threshing-floor of Oman the Jebusite, where mercy had thus rejoiced, the angel of destruction puts up his sword again into the sheath thereof, at the commandment of the Lord.
Verses 28-30. “At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshing-floor of Oman the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there. For the tabernacle of the Lord which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt-offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon. But David could not go before it to inquire of God; for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord.”
David was given grace to interpret the writing on the Jebusite's floor. That mystic sacred plan had brightly reflected the glory of forgiving love; there he had seen that with his God “mercy rejoiceth against judgment” —the oft repeated, but ever sweet and blessed truth. Close, therefore, by this floor he keeps. The corn which his faith had trodden out there was the finest wheat, the very fat of the kidneys of wheat; and having tasted it, he dared not to forsake his own mercy; having fed at an altar whereon had been spread for him the dainties of a father's love, he could not return to serve the tabernacle. (Heb. 13:1010We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. (Hebrews 13:10).) He had not feared to prepare his altar in the angel's presence, but he does fear now to return by the way of the angel's sword. “This is the house of the Lord God,” said he of Oman's floor, “and this is the altar of the burnt-offering of Israel.” (1 Chron. 22:11Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel. (1 Chronicles 22:1).) His heart, by the Spirit who ever witnesses to grace, was knit to this spot; and he proceeds at once to make preparation to link the name of the God of Israel inseparably with it also. What Moses had given them should be no more remembered or sought unto: in grace the system should be set and confirmed, and Israel and their God should meet forever where mercy had rejoiced against judgment.
Here, with David, we also meditate for awhile, and trace our interest in all this precious truth. Our souls, if we are saints of God, will breathe,” If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand but there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared” —or worshipped. (Psa. 130:33If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? (Psalm 130:3).) All service of the name of our God comes of this; and our thankful acceptance of forgiveness, sealed as it is to all who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, is our entrance into His temple, our assumption of that character in which alone we can do service in the heavenly temple, that is, of sinners pardoned. We are to know no affection at variance with such a character. None else gives full glory to God. We stand in presence of a mercy-seat, before a throne of largest richest grace, and yet of brightest untainted righteousness, because blood in which God smells a savor of rest is upon it, through which He can be just, and yet let mercy rejoice against judgment. (Gen. 8:2121And the Lord smelled a sweet savor; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. (Genesis 8:21); Rom. 3:2626To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:26); Eph. 5:2.)2 “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” are the temple in our heavens; “salvation to our God"3 is the burthen of our worship there, “blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.”
And as mercy through the Lord our righteousness has thus “raised us up, and made us sit in heavenly places” (Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)), so in the day when “all Israel shall be saved,” mercy shall in like manner rejoice in the lower parts of the earth. As the church is now set in grace, so will the people then be. That covenant, and that alone, which takes away sin through the Deliverer, shall establish them as it now establishes the saints; “for all are included in unbelief, that God may have mercy upon all.” (Rom. 11:26-3226And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. 29For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:26‑32).) Ex. 32; 34 exhibits this truth, and most interestingly presents Israel as drawn-forth from their standing under Mount Sinai, to take their stand in the last days in and under Christ. And their last tenure of the land by grace will be the accomplishment of the promises made of old to their father Abraham; for the land and its accompanying blessings were given to him and to his seed, not as through the works of the law, but by promise, or grace. The closing scene of that lovely portion of the divine word gives us the same truth in mystery. Moses veiled typified Israel as they now are, and the flesh under law, or in blindness of heart. (Isa. 6:1010Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. (Isaiah 6:10).) Moses unveiled typifies Israel as they shall be, in the Spirit under Christ, or in the light of liberty of the new covenant (Rom. 11:27; 227For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:27) Cor. 3: 26); and when the heart of the Jewish people shall thus “turn to the Lord,” and the “veil shall be taken away,” this turning of Israel to Jesus shall be followed by the unveiling of—the nations, or the life of the world. (Isa. 25:66And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. (Isaiah 25:6); Rom. 11:1515For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (Romans 11:15).)
Thus in the end shall all be established alike by grace, not only the children of the resurrection in the Father's house in the heavens, but Israel and the nations “from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same” on earth.
“Mercy shall be built up forever.” (Psa. 89:22For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. (Psalm 89:2).) “With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee (Zion), saith the Lord thy Redeemer;” and then shall Zion's children be many, and her seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and the Redeemer of Israel shall be called the God of the whole earth. (Isa. 54:1-81Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. 2Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; 3For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. 4Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. 5For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. 6For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. 7For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. 8In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:1‑8).) The Gentiles shall be embraced in the same mercy, for, as it is written, “In thee shall all nations be blessed;” as it is written again, “Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.” (Rom. 15:1010And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. (Romans 15:10).) Thus shall the whole earth be the extended floor of Oman the Jebusite, and be the altar and dwelling place of Him with whom mercy has rejoiced against judgment. Thus shall our God show the rich fullness of His wisdom, providing a way whereby He can be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus—whereby He can preserve the righteousness of His throne in all its brightest glory, and yet allow mercy to rejoice against judgment, seat Himself again in the earth as His temple and kingdom. Mercy with righteousness, peace with truth, shall rear that temple, and uphold the kingdom. His shall all things then be, not only by title, by creation, but by purchase—His “peculiar treasure,” His “purchased possession.” Thus will the Lord fully repossess Himself of the kingdom of this world, and walk again among the children of men; the saints who have acknowledged Him while absent shall, be acknowledged in His glory; “the righteous shall see it, and rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her month.” (Psa. 107:4242The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. (Psalm 107:42).) J. G. B.