When David’s men came to the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled. So Uzzah reached out to steady the Ark of God. The Lord was angry with Uzzah and killed him because of what he did. So Uzzah died there beside the Ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:6-7)
We see in this passage that the Ark of God is being moved to Jerusalem at the instruction of King David. An ox who is drawing the cart stumbles, and the Ark is in danger of falling so a man named Uzzah reaches out and steadies it so that it doesn’t fall in the mud.
In the first two sentences of this passage, Uzzah is alive and well serving the Lord. In the second two, he’s dead.
It’s a question I’ve always had after reading this portion. Uzzah SAVED the ark from falling, so why was he killed?
You see, in Numbers 4:15, Moses had passed along God’s very specific instructions on how the Ark was supposed to be moved. God had instructed the Israelites that only Levites from the family of Kohath were to transport the Ark on poles balanced on their shoulders. Moving the Ark by oxen drawn cart probably seemed like an easier and more practical way to move it, but it simply wasn’t the way that God wanted it to be done.
It’s interesting to note that the oxen stumbled, but neither the cart nor the Ark fell. The passage only tells us that Uzzah steadied the Ark. This could have been similar to the situation where the disciples were in a boat that was rocked severely in the storm, but never in danger of sinking. Just like the disciples failed to trust Jesus Christ in that story, Uzzah – for a moment- failed to trust that God could correct the situation and thought it was his responsibility to save the integrity of God. As if Almighty God needed Uzzah’s assistance.
No matter how innocently it was done, touching the Ark of God was a direct violation of God’s law and the punishment for violating that law resulted in death. Uzzah ended up paying the price for the way that human beings decided to handle the Ark.
Uzzah was killed because of something that I am guilty of doing quite often. He saw a situation, and reacted in a way that he thought seemed appropriate without considering God’s will. From his perspective, Uzzah thought the most important thing was to stop the symbol of God’s glory from falling into the mud. In “solving” the problem, he actually created a bigger problem. He didn’t take God’s eternal perspective into consideration, and inadvertently removed himself from God’s will.
What problems in your life have you taken into your own hands and tried to solve with practical human thinking? What “solutions” have become much bigger problems than the original?
We might think that we are wise and have calculated all the benefits and costs of a problem and found the best solution, but always remember that a solution that God hasn’t approved may cost you more than you could have ever imagined.