Summary: The scripture shows the importance of conforming to God’s image to worship instead of demanding that God conform to our worship.
Worship in Spirit and Truth
1 Again David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand.
2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the LORD of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim.
3 So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.
4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark.
5 Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals.
6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled.
7 Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.
8 And David became angry because of the LORD’s outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day.
9 David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"
At first glance, many people are bothered by this hard passage. Many times I have heard people ask why God killed Uzzah for trying to keep the ark of God from falling? However, this passage contains a powerful truth that should not be missed. Uzzah putting his hand to the ark is the consequences of the real failure occurred before oxen stumbled. Let’s look back to Exodus 25:
12 "You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side.
13 "And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.
14 "You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them.
15 "The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.
In unmistakable terms, God commanded that the ark be treated as holy and only use the poles to carry the ark. The ark was a representation of a holy God who is to be feared. The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. When that fear is lost, people begin to make their own rules. Instead of loving God and being loved by God, people reduce God to a level where they feel that they can determine what is acceptable based on their own will. Wisdom then falls and foolish actions take its place. Only when God is enthroned in our hearts will we truly understand and enjoy fellowship with Him. Once we push aside His commandments, we begin to be our own god and attempt to make Him our subject. To fear God is not to be afraid of God, but to stand in awe of Him. Ironically, those who do not fear God are the ones who end up being afraid of God just as David was here. After Uzzah died, David was afraid. Yet, throughout most of David’s life, he feared God and as a result, he was not afraid. He had confidence in God and felt a closeness to God that is unmatched in the scriptures. He was blessed and at peace. The depth of his love for God and his ability to see God’s love for him was born out of that fear of the Lord that was established in David’s life.
Instead of being placed on a cart, the ark of God was to be carried with honor by the tribe of Levi. The Levites were set apart by God to do this service. Look at Deuteronomy 10
8 At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day.
Also in unmistakable terms, God commanded the Levites to be bearers of the ark of God. Yet Uzzah and Ahio were tending to the ark when it was being carried. Uzzah and Ahio were relatives of King David who was from the tribe of Judah instead of Levi. From the beginning, the ark of God was treated with complete disregard for what God has commanded.