Every time I read the story of David and the Israelites restoring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, I stumble over the part about Uzzah. Uzzah was apparently walking right next to the cart that the ark was on, and when the oxen that were carrying it stumbled, he put out a hand to steady the cart. And fell down dead. I’ve always thought, “Well, Lord, it seems like he was doing a good thing. Why would you inflict such a heavy blow when he’s obviously trying to avoid the shame of dropping the ark?”
I’ve literally thought about this story for years. It has always bothered me because I never before understood the Lord’s anger at him. Today, though, I feel like I’ve had somewhat of a revelation. First Chronicles 15:13 says, “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.”
The Lord was not just angry with Uzzah. He was angry with the whole affair. If you back up to 1 Chronicles 13:4, you will see that the Israelites just up and one day decided to bring back the ark “for the thing was right in all the eyes of the people.” They were doing something that seemed honorable, but they left out one crucial detail, apparently. They forgot to ask God how they should go about doing such a thing. Who would have thought that overzealousness would be such a big deal to the Lord?
I got to thinking about Uzzah and what it was about his act that seemed so irreverent to the Lord. Looking at the second attempt David makes at returning the Ark, it is clear that the journey was a lot smoother. There was not a whole lot of opportunity for the Ark to be bustled about because they were sacrificing every step of the way. They were constantly acknowledging the Lord as they journeyed back into the city. Uzzah took it upon himself to steady the Ark the first time around and it was like the Lord gave them all a huge wake-up call: “This is actually a big deal! Do it right!”
It is unfortunate that someone had to die for them to see the flippant approach they had taken to such a glorious event. Returning the presence of the Lord to the land was not some everyday task. It was monumental. It called for ceremony, and much prayer and dedicated worship. It was going to be a huge, redefining moment for the Israelites. They were wooing the presence of the Lord back into their daily lives.
I can’t help but think about all the things that I have screwed up in my life, all the parts of me that died because of my casual approach to life. All the things I’ve done just because they seemed right in my own eyes. All the things I neglected to search out the Lord’s heart in, to know His Will and His desire for me. I have plenty of places in my past I can name “Perez Uzzah” because the Lord broke out against me. I have known since I was a child that the Lord had a calling on my life, that I was born to make much of Him. I didn’t live like that was a big deal. But He was quick to give me that rude awakening, thank the Lord. Like David, though, I had to reevaluate what I thought I knew about the Lord and resubmit my plans to Him for approval. After all, I have to admit that this is a big deal. Making much of Him is a big deal. My zeal will only take me so far, and it’s not my purpose to just get somewhere on it. I want to glorify Him to the utmost. I want to see Him smile from ear to ear when I walk into heaven and I want to hear Him say with such love and adoration, “Well done, my child.”
I want to do this right. I give all of my plans to you, knowing that you don’t need my help in perfecting them. I ask that you make me submissive to your every will and desire for me. This life is not my own. I live for you. And that’s a big deal to me. Overrule my zeal where necessary and make the most of this life that I willingly give to you now. Thank you, Father, for the wake-up call and helping me to endure the aftermath of it all. Thank you for second chances. I intend to acknowledge and exalt you every step of the way. You are my King! I love you!