A WRONG MOVE
Lord, You require that we respect Your rules. Strengthen us to always do so.
Read 1 CHRONICLES 13:1–14
Bringing Back the Ark
13 David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. 3 Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.” 4 The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.
5 So David assembled all Israel, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. 6 David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who is enthroned between the cherubim—the ark that is called by the Name.
7 They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. 8 David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets.
9 When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. 10 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.
11 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
12 David was afraid of God that day and asked, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?” 13 He did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5,6).
The Ark of the Covenant is God’s meeting place with the Israelites and the symbol of his holy presence among them. The Philistines have captured and held it for seven months after winning the battle of Aphek. Eventually it becomes entrusted to Abinadab of Kiriath Jearim. There it spends considerable time until David decides to bring it into his new capital, Jerusalem.
God’s outburst of anger against Abinadab’s son, Uzzah, appears excessively harsh to the modern eye. Why should the simple act of reaching out to steady the Ark have cost him his life? Uzzah’s gesture is, in fact, the last of several serious errors that have violated God’s holiness. To start with, David’s decision to move the Ark is taken after a consultation with his army officers. He should have first discussed his plan with the priests and Levites who were by law the Ark’s designated guardians. Second, the Ark is to be transported exclusively on the shoulders of Levites of the Kohathite clan. David chooses to move it on an ox-drawn cart, a clear violation. Third, no human hand is to touch the ark. Uzzah fails to obey God’s prescribed rules. Immediate death is the consequence.
There is, however, possibly a fourth error which may have cost Uzzah his life, perhaps as a warning to others. During the time the Ark is residing in his father Abinadab’s house, Uzzah is perhaps becoming overly familiar with this most holy object. Reaching out his hand to touch the Ark shows a lack of respect for God’s revealed way of doing things. In our relationship with God, we need to avoid over-familiarity with the Most High!
Pray for wisdom to know how to cultivate a close, intimate relationship with God while maintaining a deep reverence for his holiness.
Lord, keep us from the sin of presumption stemming from over-familiarity with the things of the Almighty.