I read something a little startling in 2 Samuel a couple of weeks ago. It seems harsh, like God is unloving and rules harshly – and with a big stick.
The scene opens in chapter 6, where David mobilized special troops, went to Judah, and began on their way back to Jerusalem with the Ark of God on the cart David had built for the transport. Uzzah and his brother Ahio were guiding the cart with Ahio in front and Uzzah in the rear.
David and all the people of Israel were celebrating “with all their might”. And then something drastic happened.
But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark of God. Then the Lord’s anger blazed out against Uzzah for doing this, and God struck him dead beside the Ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:6-7, emphasis mine)
The passage goes on to say that David was angry at God’s outbreak against Uzzah. Does God’s reaction seem harsh to you?
Think of when your child or grandchild is all caught up with excitement and isn’t paying proper attention as they dance throughout the room. Can’t you see what is about to happen? You try to calm them before catastrophe hits, saying,
Stop flailing your arms about. Calm down before you break something. Or, take it outside!
Children don’t have proper respect for the breakables we have in our homes – things we often care about greatly due to the special memories attached to them. Can you see the similarity in these situations?
God’s reaction does seem harsh, but I noticed the passage said nothing about David asking God if He wanted them to transport His Ark. Then I read in 1 Chronicles 13 that they DID ask God if He wanted them to move it. I felt better about siding with David at that point. Why did God react so severely when they were doing what He wanted? And with great celebration, no less.
A couple of days later, this event was still fresh in my mind when I ran across this verse. David summoned the priests and explained what God had revealed to Him since the death of Uzzah.
…Because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the Lord our God burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it in the proper way. (1 Chronicles 15:13)
Aha! They asked God “if” but not “how”! That’s the key here.
Just as children don’t understand our reasons behind forbidding wild behavior indoors (and sometimes bringing discipline for the results of it), in that same way, we often don’t understand God’s discipline. We don’t have proper respect for the things that matter most to Him – and should likewise matter most to us.
So…y’all help me remember this:
We should remember…if God seems to act harshly to get our attention, there’s a valuable lesson in it for us.
I hope you have a spectacular Sabbath!