Although studying this context would be productive, our attention in this lesson will instead be directed to the concept of giving and various perspectives toward it. David, although he had sinned recently, here displayed an excellent attitude about giving to His God. However, for every person who has a proper attitude on giving, there are countless others who cling to inappropriate views.
If we slightly modify David's statement to generalize the focus upon giving to God in general (as opposed to giving a burnt offering), it would read: "I will not give to the Lord that which costs me nothing." If we then break that statement apart, we can see four unique perspectives on giving. The first three are not proper, but the fourth most certainly is. Let us consider each perspective at this time.
1. I WILL NOT GIVE...
This is the perspective of the individual who loves himself and himself only. He will not give to anyone (whether mortal or divine). Such an individual fails to realize the benefits of giving to others. Indeed,"it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). People of this sort are dead inside, even while they live, for they lack compassion and wisdom, trusting in their money and possessions (cf. I Tim. 6:17).
2. I WILL NOT GIVE TO THE LORD...
This is the perspective of the individual who is an unbeliever. He may happily give to secular charities and to the less fortunate. However, such a one will not give a cent to the Lord or His church. He sees no purpose in giving to God. He fails to realize the source of every blessing he enjoys (cf. James 1:17). He does not fathom the countless blessings the heavenly Father has showered upon him (including His patient waiting for this man to develop faith and come to repentance!).
3. I WILL NOT GIVE TO THE LORD THAT WHICH COSTS ME...
This is the perspective of the individual who believes that one should give to God, but not too much! From his view there are numerous priorities that must come first (in fact, pretty much everything else comes first before the God he claims to love). His money will be devoted to his needs (food, clothing, shelter) and wants (hobbies, entertainment, recreation, etc.). He'll spend big bucks on vacations and vehicles and even save gobs of money for retirement (or a "rainy day"), and will take what little is left over and give it--a trifle sum--to the Lord. He would not give anything to God if it weren't for a sense of duty that troubles his selfish heart from time to time. He knows that he is supposed to give (even though it pains him to even give a small percentage of his earnings). This type of person may attempt to justify himself by claiming: "I don't like the way the church uses its money, so I'm not going to give very much."
4. I WILL NOT GIVE TO THE LORD THAT WHICH COSTS ME NOTHING.
This is the perspective of the individual who loves God, like David did. This person is not perfect (David certainly wasn't), but he does understand where his blessings (including forgiveness) come from and he cheerfully gives freely to the Lord and to those in need. He takes Paul's words to heart in II Corinthians 9:6-8 - "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." Liberal givers who truly trust in God to provide for them will not be hindered by the thought that they might give "too much" and then wind up in need themselves. They, unlike many who are only partially committed to God, refuse to give anything but their best to God, even financially. They will not offer God their "leftovers," so to speak. They give to God first and sacrificially, knowing that the Lord will take care of them. They deny themselves things they want, knowing there is a better use of the funds God has entrusted into their stewardship. Such a giver will not allow others to "pay his way." His faith and discipleship are real, and he proves it by his gifts to Almighty God.
Dear friends, what about you? To which perspective do you subscribe? Take a look at where your money has gone within the past year (by percentage) and you'll have your answer. May we adopt the attitude of the man after God's own heart when it comes to giving!