Having the right intentions when we serve others can make us feel great about ourselves, but can go terribly wrong when the other person wasn’t thought of first. David had a moment just like that with God. Doing what we think is right for God, and then having God show that our intended plan isn’t what He was looking for can cause us to feel a misguided sense of frustration with Him. We may have intentions of doing what’s spiritually edifying for our youth group, church, friends, family, etc– but if God isn’t consulted, those intentions can turn into meaningless, or even harmful, outcomes.
We read about this particular moment David had in 1 Chronicles 13:
“Then David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. 2 And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the Lord our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and Levites who are in their cities and their common-lands, that they may gather together to us; 3 and let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul.” 4 Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.”
In summary, David asks the people of Israel (not God) if it was a good idea to move the ark and they reply with an answer that seems “right in [their own] eyes”.
Then this happened:
7 So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. 8 Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets. 9 And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. 10 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.
A man died after David and his people decided to do something great for God. His intentions were seemingly honorable, but something caused God to become angry. Uzza was not supposed to touch the ark. No one was supposed to touch the ark. David becomes fearful and decides to leave the ark alone for a while. A few chapters later, in 1 Chronicles 15, we see that he does something that serves as an example for all of us:
He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. 13 For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.”
David goes back to God and discovers how to do things the proper way. His humility is clearly evident in this chapter. David knows his place in front a holy God. He knows God wasn’t upset about his intentions, but with the fact that David didn’t consult God from the very beginning. Our actions should be preceded with a heart that lovingly seeks for what is on God’s heart. Doing things because it seems right and beneficial isn’t what God asks of us.
In Philippians 1, Paul says this to the church:
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:9-10
Let us have a love for God that not only serves Him, but also grows in knowledge and discernment of God’s intentions, so that our intentions and actions are in line with His will.