And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. — 2 Samuel 6:6-7
Some years ago, a man named Earl Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. Weaver was a sharp, calculating man with strict rules for his players. One of these rules was that no runner was to steal a base without a sign from the coach.
Reggie Jackson was a star player in those days, and he fancied himself quite skilled at stealing bases. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of each team’s catchers and pitchers, and he studied their habits to know exactly when he would have the opportunity to break and run for the next base. It was one of Reggie Jackson’s specialties.
Reggie chafed under the restrictions imposed upon him by Earl Weaver, thinking he could judge the players well enough to make his own determinations about when to steal or not to steal a base. One day, Reggie decided to steal a base without a sign. Marking the moves of the pitcher, Reggie made a daring dash for second base, and easily beat the catcher’s throw to second. He grinned smugly as he dusted off his uniform and stood between second and third bases. Reggie was delighted that he had finally demonstrated to his manager that he, for one, did not need to be told what to do.
Later, Earl Weaver took Reggie aside and explained to him why he had not given the sign for Reggie to steal. The batter following him was Lee May, a big hitter, and because Reggie had left first base open, the pitcher walked May rather than giving him the opportunity to hit. The batter following May had not been strong against that particular pitcher, so Weaver had been forced to substitute with a pinch hitter in an attempt to bring the men on base home. This switch left the batting line-up weak later in the game.
Reggie Jackson’s hasty decision to disobey was costly to the team. However, he learned a valuable lesson: that his manager had his eyes on the whole game, whereas Reggie had only been thinking of himself.
As Christians, we may be tempted to take short cuts or disregard God’s commands simply because we think we have a good reason. Like Reggie Jackson, we may take matters into our own hands, reasoning that we are doing a good thing. But Reggie discovered that his “good” choice was not the “best” choice, and that his disobedience had far-reaching consequences. David likewise learned that there was danger in taking matters into his own hands, for in his zeal to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, he and the priests assisting him broke the express commandments of God regarding how the Ark was to be carried.
When Uzzah put forth his hand to steady the Ark, he was in violation of God’s law, which forbid human hands from touching it. Though it may appear that his intentions were noble, his death taught David and Israel that obedience was paramount. Let us remember their lessons and be careful always to obey the Lord implicitly.
Shortly after his ascension to the throne of Israel, David desired to restore the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place in Jerusalem. David had secured political unity with his capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites. Bringing the Ark to Jerusalem would result in religious unity, and further strengthen the rule of the new king. Unfortunately, in his zeal David evidently had not inquired of the Lord before making these plans. He and the priests in charge at the time overlooked God’s strict regulations concerning the Ark, which included that the Ark was not to be transported on a wagon or cart, but on the shoulders of the Kohathites (Numbers 7:9) and that the Ark was not to be touched (Numbers 4:15). Rather than following the strict instructions laid out in the Book of Numbers, David commenced to transport the Ark in a common fashion, just like the Philistines had once done (1 Samuel 6:7).
The “breach” upon Uzzah means a tearing away, that is, the taking of his life suddenly. This word graphically shows God’s terrible destroying power. Uzzah’s actions lacked proper respect for the holy presence of God that the Ark represented. David was displeased by this event, and at himself for allowing this calamity to take place.
After the sudden death of Uzzah, David realized the awesome responsibility he had undertaken, and changed his plans. Rather than taking the Ark to Jerusalem, he sent it to the house of Obed-edom, a Levite and Kohathite, who could properly care for it. The subsequent blessing of the Lord upon Obed-edom’s household was a sign to David that it was now safe for him to transport the Ark to Jerusalem, provided that he did it according to God’s instructions.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The success of King David
B. His reign over all Israel
3. The establishment of a new center of worship (6:1-23)
a. The Ark transported to Zion (6:1-5)
b. The sin of Uzziah (6:6-11)
c. The placing of the Ark in David’s tent (6:12-19)
d. The mockery of Michal (6:20-23)
In his excitement to do something “good,” David overlooked what was “best” — that is to obey the Lord fully. The commandments of the Lord are not something we can take lightly!