In 2 Samuel 6:6-7 we read When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. What is your initial reaction to the death of Uzzah? Do you feel it was very harsh of the LORD to do that to Uzzah? After all he only touched a wooden box. What are we to make of this? Let us then look at the events surrounding this event as they are recorded in 2 Samuel 6:1-8 and 1 Chronicles 13:1-10 and seek to get some insights into what actually happened here. Thereby we can learn lessons for ourselves.
Seeking God. In 1 Chronicles 13:1a we read that David conferred with each of his officers. Now it is good to confer with godly people around us when we are making decisions in life. However, it is always better to give a priority to conferring with the Lord. David mentioned about being in the will of God, but he did not ask the LORD to reveal His will (see 1 Chron. 13:2a). Further, we read The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people (1 Chron. 13:4). It seemed right to the people, but they had not sought the Lord to see if it was right with Him. As we face decisions in life, large or small, we should make sure that we seek the Lord so that we are moving in His will. David and the people had good desires, but they were not seeking the LORD. This puts the whole enterprise, of bringing the ark back, on a poor footing. We can almost start to feel things will not work out well.
Seeking the Word. If the ark had been carried in the way prescribed by God’s Word, Uzzah would never have been placed in such a perilous position because there would have been no oxen who might stumble. In Numbers 7:9 we read that the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible. Poles were to be used to facilitate the carrying and in that way the ark, one of those holy things. would be secure. However, in the incident regarding the return of the ark, there was no seeking the LORD for His mind on how the ark should be carried even though it is recorded in the law of the Lord. When we face issues in life our default position should always be to see what the Lord’s Word says on this. If we do not do this we are saying we know better than God.
Zeal without wisdom. What we observe, particularly in 1 Chronicles 13:1-7, is that there was a lot of zeal and passion when the ark was being returned. The people wanted to get the ark back and when it was on its way back they were wildly celebrating. But their zeal, although well-intentioned, was not sanctified by the Word of God and prayer; the ark should not have been on a new cart. The wisdom that comes from God through prayer and the Word was not in evidence. It is good to have zeal for God. Oh that there was more of it! But let us be reminded that zeal should never lead us to ignoring the Word and prayer.
Innovation. We have to operate in a way that is appropriate to 2012. However, in all we do we should be having the Word of God as our foundation. They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it ( 1 Chron. 13:7) describes how the ark was transported. No doubt, much justification could be given for using a new cart, but in the end it was against what God wanted and that was what mattered. God’s way was not only the right way; it was the best way. If the ark had been on shoulders there would never have been opportunity for it to wobble. It should have been carried by the Kohathites on their shoulders.
Furthermore, it is interesting to note in Numbers 7:7-8 that the Gershonites and Merarites were given carts for their duties, but not the Kohathites. The carts were suitable for other jobs, but not for carrying the ark. This would remind us that just because one method is totally appropriate in one sphere of serving the Lord it is not appropriate in every sphere. Singing is appropriate for expressing our worship of the Lord, but not for proclaiming the gospel.
How we need to be careful of innovating in a way that goes against God’s word. For example For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18) is what Paul says to the Corinthians. Accordingly, we must stick with the declaring of God’s Word as the great means of bringing salvation and building up His people.
Overly Familiar. Are we too familiar with God? Have we lost that sense of reverence for Our God. The ark of God was significant because it represented the presence of God among His people. It was not just a box. In 2 Samuel:6:2b it is described as that which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. The ark had been in the home of Abinadad Uzzah’s father. Uzzah had no doubt seen it every day and perhaps familiarity had brought contempt. Was his reaching out to touch the ark, a display that he had lost the sense of the significance of the ark and the God it portrayed to the people? He had become casual. Are we like that? Have we become too casual about the God who is our God and is a consuming fire (see Heb. 12:29).
Giving God a helping hand. Carelessness in the Lord’s presence can lead to acting in inappropriate ways. There is no indication, in either of the passages, that the ark was about to fall to the floor. But just in case Uzzah put out his hand. The important thing to remember here is that there was a command to the Kohathites which said they must not touch the holy thing or they will die (Num. 4:15a). No doubt, God would have taken care of his ark, but Uzzah wanted to help out. In the excitement of the occasion he had lost sight of God and the command of God. Are we guilty of this sometimes? God will work and honour his name. He also wants his word to be obeyed even if we think we have a better way of doing things. We are called to love him, obey him and serve him. But always remember He is big enough to take care of Himself.
I trust as we discern some of these principles we can see why the Lord intervened to smite Uzzah. Operating without due reference to our God and reverence for our God always leads to disaster. Let us then take heed and learn from what happened to Uzzah.
(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of Nov 2012)