At first glance, reading about God striking down Uzzah makes me feel like David felt, angry and a little afraid. How could he impulsively kill a well-meaning man during a huge celebration of the return of his presence?
If you dig a little deeper into this text, you’ll notice that they put the Ark on a cart. This is a bad move because in Numbers 4, God says to use the carrying poles attached to the Ark to move it and that no one is to touch it themselves. They were carelessly moving it in haste to get God’s favor back in their presence faster. In 1 Chronicles 13:1 when this story is being told, it mentions that David consulted with his officials about moving the Ark, but he neglected to ask God.
Is God just flexing his power to spread fear throughout his people and remind them of who he is? I don’t know. What I do know is that we are very prone to getting carried away with ourselves and treating God like an idol. Worshiping him when we want something, taking shortcuts to execute our own plans and asking only the people we think will agree with us for advice. This story reminds me to revere God. Consult with him. Obey his commandments. He’s not a cruel God, senselessly striking the innocent dead. He’s a loving God, a powerful God, one that runs on top of the trees into the battle before us.
My pastor preached on this story a while back and asked us, when you read these chapters, who d0 you identify with?
Are you Uzzah, full of good-intentions, but not sifting man’s instructions through what God says?
Are you Michal, prioritizing social class and appearance above true worship? Tearing down someone you love because they embarrassed you?
Maybe you’re like David, trying to bend things your way in your own timing. Or maybe you identify with David at the end of chapter 6, giving God the worship he deserves at the cost of your pride.
I hope to be like David after they defeat the Philistines and he shouts “The Lord did it!”, instantly proclaiming that my success is his success. Remembering to give God praise for the work he’s doing that I’m invited in to.