Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 4:1-6:23
Samuel 6 qualifies as one of the difficult passages of Scripture. We are taken aback at the harsh action of God, in what we might regard as a merciless act of justice. On the surface, we see Uzzah doing what appears as a good deed, and God responding with swift vengeance. We also see David in what appears as inappropriate behaviour before God, suffering no ill consequences.
What was wrong with Uzzah action? Uzzah saw himself as one whose job it was to “take care” of God. He had God in a box, and assumed responsibility for keeping Him safe from the mud and dust of the world. Uzzah ignored Moses’ clear directions on the proper handling the Ark. It was not to be touched with human hands, but carried by Levites using poles inserted through rings attached to the Ark. Only the poles could be touched. In his book The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul points out: “Uzzah assumed that his hand was less polluted than the earth. But it wasn’t the ground that would desecrate the Ark; it was the touch of man.”
Perhaps we’re like Uzzah in the way we casually regard the sacred. We come to church expecting to be entertained, and pray expecting all our wishes to be answered. Uzzah thought he was protecting the Ark–Perhaps we’re also like Uzzah in our need to defend God. You don’t defend a lion—you simply get out of his way.
When the ark finally arrived in Jerusalem the correct way, Michal saw David’s dance and despised her husband. David removed his royal robes and wore an ephod, a priestly garment, to mark the religious significance of the occasion. He was willing to look humble, common and undignified in the eyes of some, in order to fully express his delight in the Lord.
Uzzah and David encounter the Ark—one in death, one in the dance. Uzzah was dead to the aliveness of God, while David was alive to God. David had learned to live openly, trustingly, passionately and exultantly before God. Rather than seek to control God, David sought to submit to God’s will. Our lives must do the same.