Since we don’t post any blogs for Biblein365 on Sundays, I feel like I have the luxury of writing about either Sunday or Monday’s reading passage. This week I wanted to comment on Sunday’s reading. The specific area where I want us to look today is found in 1 Chronicles 13. David was in the process of transporting the ark to Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 13:7-10 (NIV)
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.
It seems like I was pretty young when I first heard this story told. I knew that the ark of the covenant was special. I knew God had given directions on how it was to be handled and dealt with. But it seemed a bit overkill that when Uzzah was simply trying to make sure the ark was okay, he had to pay the ultimate price, his own life. It’s kind of like we find ourselves questioning God and telling Him, “Isn’t this a little much? What’s the big deal? Uzzah was just trying to make sure the ark was safe. He just did what he thought was right.”
There is a parallel passage to what we read today. It is over in 2 Samuel chapter 6:
2 Samuel 6:6-7 (NIV)
6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 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.
As I was reading that passage from Samuel, I tried to broaden my perspective. Uzzah’s intent might have been good, but what he did was a violation of specific and clear instructions that God had given to instruct His people as to how they were to handle the ark. Only the Levites were to be the ones to carry it and they would do it without touching the ark but would use long poles which would slide through rings on the ark. Uzzah would have known about these instructions from the time when he had been a little boy. It’s easy for us to say, especially when it would seem that Uzzah probably did what he did with good intentions, that he was doing what he was doing with a good heart.
As we have been reading in the Old Testament over the last three months we should be aware by now that God wants to be taken seriously. When He says something He means exactly what He has said. When He asks for our obedience He is not saying, be obedient, or if at least you have a good heart, try to be sort of obedient. Either Uzzah was acting in obedience to the Lord or he wasn’t. As we read how this incident ended, we see that indeed he was not obedient. And he received the consequence of his disobedience.
God means what He says and says what He means. Living in the culture with which we are surrounded, we can see people everywhere who like Uzzah might claim that they have a good heart, or at the least, good intentions. Back in 1 Samuel 15, we heard King Saul as he sought to explain why he had altered what God had told him to do and how with good intentions he had improved on the Lord’s plan. We then heard the response from the prophet Samuel as he spoke God’s truth into the matter.
1 Samuel 15:22-23 (NIV)
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
In His Word, God has shown us the way to live. He has instructed us as to what is right and what is wrong. He has laid out a path before us that is a path of safety, blessing, and goodness. He has never asked us for our help to make sure He has gotten everything right. Remember this. If you and God each have a different opinion on how to handle a situation, or what we should do in a situation, guess what. He’s always right and He’s never wrong.
Let’s examine our individual lives. Are there any areas where we have settled for what we think is an acceptable solution even when it doesn’t match His. Guess what, He’s right and it will always be obedience which will help to keep you close to Him.