A secret of success is: To be successful, pursue God; don’t pursue success. If you pursue success, it will dry up and leave you alone. You know, when you run after a woman, she will run away from you. If you run after God, a holy woman will run after you. Many people wonder, “How can I get my wife to love me and run after me?” They say, “I will do this to her. I will do that to her. I will do this to her. I will do that.” The more things you do, the more she will run away from you. Now, run after God! Run after God and your wife will run after you. If you compromise to please a woman, you have lost her. If you compromise to please a woman, she will mock at you and maltreat you. She will say, “You don’t even love God enough to follow Him. How can I risk my life on you?” Only the biggest fool compromises pleasing God to please his wife. That day, he loses the woman finally. In her heart, she now knows that you are not worth anything. She knows that she is in total insecurity, because if you can sacrifice your God, then you can also throw her away at any moment. But when a woman sees a man who lays hold on God totally and would rather die than disobey God, she is safe in that man’s hands! When a woman sees that you have beheld the glory of God, you have beheld God’s heights and you have abandoned them to settle on easy plains, she hates you, because you have failed her! But when a woman sees a man who will please God at any cost, who will follow God’s heights at any cost, she trembles. She knows that this man will never do anything wrong against her, because he must please God at any cost. So that is her security. But when you are a man who can fling God aside, she knows there is no future for her. If you want to succeed, don’t run after success! Success runs away from those who run after it! But success runs after those who run after God! In the pursuit of God, the wealth of God is found.
In Israel, everything is “King David’s this thing, King David’s that thing. You hardly see any “King Saul’s this thing.” You hardly see any “King Solomon’s that thing.” At least the path that I took to the hotel and back and the path I took to go and buy food (since God had forbidden me to go around), everything I saw was “King David, King David, King David.” Why? If you want to succeed, go after God!
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken” ( Psalm 62:1-2a). “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I shall not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge”(Psalm 62: 6-8).
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:1-4).
You have the story of David in the whole of I Chronicles. If you see the portion of the Bible that is given to King David compared to the rest, it is like a mountain. And many people only entered favour because of David. David sought God. He went after God! He pursued God! He chased God! He laid hold on God! He sang to God. God, God, God. Look at the Psalms. The Psalms are God-centred. The Psalms are the book of those who seek God, those who meet God, those who find God, those who know God, those who love God! David sought God. Even when he killed Goliath, it was because of an uncircumcised man speaking to defy the armies of God. He risked his life, took his life in his hands and went against Goliath be- cause of the glory of his God! He poured out his wealth to God. He held nothing back. God was central. Even when David sinned, he had to choose in whose hands to fall. He was told :
“So Gad went to David and said to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Take your choice: three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.” Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me’ David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men’” ( I Chronicles 21:11-13).
David chose to fall into the hands of the wrath of God! God was his all. We are so carnal in our generation because we are so removed from the power of God.
Verse 14 “So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead.” This was not Satan. It was God.
Verse 15a “And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem.” So God can destroy men.
Verse 15b “But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’ The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” My problem is that the brethren don’t see angels. They don’t receive help directly from angels. They have no angelic visitation. The spiritual poverty is great.
Verse 16a “David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth.” When did you see the angel of the Lord?
Verse 16b “.with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell face down.” In sackcloth they fell down face down.
But I want you to see verses 18 to 27. God did not just say, “O, let it just go.” “Then the angel of the Lord ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the Lord. While Araunah was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel. His four sons who were with him hid themselves. Then David approached, and when Araunah looked and saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground. David said to him, ‘Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.’
Araunah said to David, ‘Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.’ But King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.’ So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels of gold for the site. David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.
Then the Lord spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.” Listen, Brethren. I want you to get this. In verse 15b “But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and was grieved be- cause of the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’” That was the Word of God! But it only took effect after the sacrifice had been made. There was God’s Word to the angel. Then there was the sacrifice by David. Then the Lord talked to the angel again after the sacrifice had been made. Verse 27a “Then the Lord spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.”
The first speaking, “Enough! Withdraw your sword.” was like a prophecy. The price had to be paid. And then came the second word that transforms the first word into experience. I believe that the visitation of God is coming. If David had said, “Oh, God has spoken to the angel; I will just relax,” all of Jerusalem would have died, because the laws of God cannot be broken. Great promises are realised by great sacrifices and great sufferings, and at treading the ever-narrowing pathway. And this threshing floor of Araunah, this threshing floor where this altar was built, was the site at which Solomon built the temple. The place that was raised to stop the judgement of God became the site that was raised for the worship of God! There was sacrifice on this site of Araunah and there was continuous sacrifice in the temple.