David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, songs, harps, lyres, tambourines, rattles and cymbals. When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, 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. 2 Samuel 6:5-8 NIV
This is one of the more complicated stories in the Bible. Uzzah tried to do a good deed, but God struck him down and he died. Why? In 2 Samuel 5, David finally completed the conquest of the Promised Land, when he took over Jerusalem, the city of the Jebusites. David made it his capital, and he wanted to honour God on Mount Zion. The Ark of the Covenant symbolised the presence of God among his people from the time of Moses. David wanted to honour God by building a temple worthy of God. So he sent for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought to Jerusalem.
With great festivity, the ark approached Jerusalem. The day started with joy, but ended in tears with the death of Uzzah. The problem was that David was taking shortcuts. He had the ark transported on the back of an ox wagon, it was just more convenient that way. But the ark was a holy relic, not in itself, but for what it stood. It symbolised God’s presence, and there were strict rules prescribing how it should be transported – the Levites had to carry it on their shoulders.
The message here was hard but necessary: God is holy, obey him. Follow his commands. Don’t make a show out of religion to score political points. David would have risen in esteem by bringing the ark to its new home. The second time around, they did it the right way. Then the focus was on honouring God. The ark was carried as prescribed. Again, there were festivities, with music and dance. With rejoicing, the ark arrived at Mount Zion, where David erected a special tent to accommodate it. Then the day ended with David blessing the nation.
Remember that God is holy. He does not play the game of life according to our rules. He is God, we are mortal. Our own plans lead to death. When we surrender to him, and serve him in humility and obedience, there will be life and joy in abundance. He is our Father. He is approachable (Hebrews 7:25). Remember that he is holy, and serve him with dedication. Then you will have joy and peace!
Prayer: Lord, you are holy. You are also my Father, who loves me. Thank you that I may know you, and serve you. Help me always to respect you and obey your commands. Thank you for life in abundance! Amen