Several weeks ago while I was still reading through the life of David, I came across these verses:
For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were in the high place at Gibeon at that time. But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the Lord. 1 Chron 21:29-30
These verses come on the heels of one of David’s big failures. Caught up in his pride, he commanded a census of his fighting men. His officials tried to talk him out of it, knowing that he was acting in pride and not according to the leadership of God. But, he insisted. The consequences were horrific as God sent a plague to wipe out an enormous number of the counted fighting men.
As the days of death and destruction came to a close, David offered sacrifices at a threshing floor near Jerusalem. But, he could not go to the tabernacle because of his fear. His sin and the horror of the plague were far to fresh, and David’s fear related to that sin kept him from boldly entering the presence of the Lord.
A healthy fear of the Lord is not a bad thing. When we are rightly related to Him, we know that healthy fear. We know His power and authority far exceed anything we can truly comprehend, and we respond accordingly.
But there is another fear that is not healthy. It is fear caused by our sin, and it keeps us from communion with Him. As we reel from the consequences of our sin and the discipline that is administered to us, we find ourselves distant from our beloved Father. We find that we struggle to meet Him face to face. We fear His wrath, and we wonder how we can ever be in His presence again.
The beautiful part of David’s story comes with the next verse, however. David did not remain in His fear. He knew the love of God. He had experienced perfect forgiveness and restoration. And, he had seen beauty come even from the worst of his failures. Look at the very next verse with me.
Then David said, “This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel.” So David gave orders to gather the foreigners who were in the land of Israel, and he set stonecutters to hew out stones to build the house of God. 1 Chron 22:1-2
This very spot – the spot of David’s fear – eventually became the foundation of Solomon’s beautiful temple. It became the place where generation upon generation of Israelites worshiped God for years to come.
When we have been disciplined by God, we too have two choices. We can remain in our fear, keeping ourselves distanced from God. Or, we can turn that very spot of fear into a place of worship. We can once again acknowledge His presence in our lives. We can once again crave intimacy with Him. And we can begin to worship Him again, right where we are.