Peril in Transporting the Ark
13 Then David consulted with the captains of the thousands and the hundreds, even with every leader. 2 David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is from the Lord our God, let us send everywhere to our kinsmen who remain in all the land of Israel, also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasture lands, that they may meet with us; 3 and let us bring back the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.” 4 Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
5 So David assembled all Israel together, from the Shihor of Egypt even to the entrance of Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. 6 David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim, which belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, the Lord who is enthroned above the cherubim, where His name is called. 7 They [a]carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. 8 David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, even with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals and with trumpets.
9 When they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, because the oxen nearly upset it. 10 The anger of the Lord burned against Uzza, so He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. 11 Then David became angry because [b]of the Lord’s outburst against Uzza; and he called that place [c]Perez-uzza to this day. 12 David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?” 13 So David did not take the ark with him to the city of David, but took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 14 Thus the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months; and the Lord blessed the family of Obed-edom with all that he had.
Though we often blame it on David, that Uzza died because they failed to follow God’s instructions, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. Apparently, David didn’t know what God’s instructions (for the ark) were, and though he consulted with all the captains and leaders of Israel, no one told him the correct way to carry the ark of God.
Either David didn’t consult the priests, or they were consulted and no one spoke up. Even if he hadn’t consulted the priests, certainly someone in all the captains could have suggested it. So truthfully, the blame doesn’t belong just to David. And there’s a lesson in there for our churches, and really for any organization.
While we might often look to one person as a leader, God has designed us to live in community with each other, because it makes us all stronger when we work together. Uzza died in the middle of an incredible celebration because the priests had been left out, and their job(s) had been ignored–or taken by others (and oxen).
When we know what is the right thing to do, we need to speak up, lest someone else make a grave error and pay dire consequences. God put us all together in this for a reason, so we all need to play our part, whatever that might be.