: Old Testament Stories

After David had reigned may years, he numbered the people of Israel.

This was wrong; and God sent a pestilence which destroyed seventy

thousand men. David was grieved, and prayed that God would punish him

and spare the people. God stayed the hand of the destroying angel; who

stood by the threshing-floor of Araunah, whither David was told to go

and offer sacrifice. David went. He purchased the threshing-floor of

also oxen and wood and offered a burnt sacrifice to God. The

following verses describe the scene:--

Beside Araunah's threshing-place

The awful angel took his stand,

When from high heaven came words of grace--

"It is enough; stay now thine hand."

For David's penitential prayer

Had enter'd God's compassionate ear;

And where the angel stood, even there

God bade the King and altar rear.

Araunah offered ground, and wood,

And oxen for the sacrifice:

David stood noble wish withstood,

And bought them all at full price.

His answer has a royal ring;

Its lesson high shall not be lost:

"Burnt offerings I will never bring

Unto Jehovah without cost."

The altar rose, the victims died,

The plague was stayed, and lo, there fell--

Token that Heaven was satisfied--

A fire from God, and all was well.

'Twas like a finger from the skies--

That falling fire--to show God's will,

That here the Temple should arise

And crown Moriah's sacred hill.

And still God marks the faithful prayer,

The careful work, the costly pains;

The Spirit's fire descendeth there,

And there, as in a shrine, remains.