“Then David and all Israel play music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzza…David was afraid of God that day…” 1 Chr 13: 8-12
God seriously spoiled the party on this one. And the party was supposedly for Him.
Try to imagine being at church and you and all the people are worshiping God with all of your heart. You are singing praises and dancing and playing instruments. And then all of a sudden God strikes dead one of the elders of the church. That’s pretty much exactly what happened here in the bible.
David loved God. And out of his love for God he wanted to bring the ark of God’s presence back to where it belonged. On the way, whenever they were all praising God as they following the ark of God which was being pulled by oxen on a brand new cart, the oxen stumbled and Uzza reached out his hand to steady the ark of God. When he did God became angry and struck him dead. Right there on the spot.
It was definitely a noble gesture by David to bring up the ark of God and it was a good thing to do…. but a good thing done the wrong way is not good at all.
When you read a bible passage like this one, it will leaving you scratching your head unless you are familiar with other parts of the bible. God makes it clear how the ark of His presence is to be handled. The job was for the Levites only and they were to carry it on poles and not a cart: “And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the work for the children of Israel in the tabernacle of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel, that there be no plague among the children of Israel when the children of Israel come near the sanctuary.” Num 8:19. David even later said: “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the LORD has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” 1 Chr 15:2.
David and the people presumptuously thought that doing something for God was good enough. But, doing something for God against His instructions is sin. David and Uzza found this out the hard way.
God was perfectly just and right to strike Uzza. In fact, it was necessary for Him to do so. Uzza committed sin against the holiest and most sacred object that existed at the time. Only by striking Uzza dead could He uphold the holy status of this object, which represented the very presence of God.
This should be a good example for us, that we should not attempt to do things our way, but God’s way…even if we are doing them for God. God will only approve of things done His way.
I remember talking to a preacher who had a struggling church which had been around for a long time, but never seemed to grow. People would come and go, and the church didn’t grow. I remember noticing that he spent a lot of time doing things like programs and counseling, but not a lot of time in prayer and study of the word. The bible doesn’t say that we should do programs and counseling, it says we should preach the word and pray without ceasing. Even though he was doing the programs for God, the church was not being blessed, because he wast not doing it God’s way.
The same is true in every other area of life. We must do it God’s way to have God’s blessing.
David eventually figured this out when he made his second (and successful) attempt to bring up the ark of God. This time he got the Levites to carry it.
“So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark
of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.” 1 Chr 15. And the Lord HELPED them! : “And so it was, when God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord…”
If you want God’s help, do it God’s way. Simple as that.