Peril in Moving the Ark
6 Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David [a]departed from [b]Baale-judah, with all the people who were with him, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the Lord of armies who is [c]enthroned above the cherubim. 3 They had mounted the ark of God on a new cart and moved it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. 4 So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. 5 Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord with all kinds of instruments made of juniper wood, and with [d]lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals.
6 But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, because the oxen nearly overturned it. 7 And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for [e]his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God. 8 Then David became angry because [f]of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah; and that place has been called [g]Perez-uzzah to this day. 9 So David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” 10 And David was unwilling to move the ark of the Lord into the city of David with him; but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom, the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
This has always struck me as a bit of an over-reaction. Uzzah tries to keep the ark from toppling over, and because he dared to touch the ark, God struck Uzzah dead.
Now, it’s hard to know who to really blame here, because the law was pretty clear that no one touched the ark. Even the priests and Levites never touched the ark. They used poles which went through loops on the ark made especially for carrying.
At any rate, Uzzah was dead because of his irreverence, and we have to remember that God knows the heart. While we might look at Uzzah’s actions as innocent, God knew the full story, which may have included more than this one incident.
Ultimately, the lesson is that God is holy, perfect, and not to be taken lightly. Without the death of His Son, Jesus, we would be unable to ever have a relationship with Him. But we have to submit our lives to His will. We can’t just live however we want, and expect that His sacrifice covers us anyway.
He offers us life eternal, life with our Creator. A free gift, that requires our full participation. Anything less would be irreverent…