Thursday, April 27, 2017

"So No One Gets Hurt"

2nd Samuel 6.6-7 NLT

“But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand and steadied the Ark of God. Then the Lord's anger was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him dead because of this. So Uzzah died right there beside the Ark of God.”

God’s act of violence against Uzzah made David angry. Then afraid. Then unwilling to have anything to do with the Ark of God
“David became angry because of the LORD’s outburst against Uzzah.”
“So David was afraid of the LORD.” “And David was unwilling to move
the ark of the LORD into the city of David with him.”
2nd Samuel 6.8, 9, 10 NASU

I assume David felt indignant toward the Lord for what appeared to be a divine, yet gross overreaction. David was transporting the Ark on an ox drawn cart. The road was bumpy. The oxen lost their footing and jostled the cart and its sacred load. Uzzah was just trying to help. He jumped to the rescue and was struck dead for his trouble. David didn’t get it. I don’t get it either.  Why would God kill a man for trying to do a good thing?

The answer to this mystery is found in the parallel account of 1st Chronicles:

“Then David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests,… and said to them,…
‘Because you did not carry it [the Ark] at the first, the LORD our God made an
outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance.’”
1st Chronicles 15.11-13 NASU

There was a prescribed way to transport the Ark. It was to be carried by priests on their shoulders with poles through attached rings. Prior to moving the Ark, David should have consulted the instruction manual. Instead he brought thirty thousand men of Israel with him and turned a solemn event into a parade. The Ark nearly fell because David had not followed the rules issued by God for its relocation. The Ark should never have been riding on a shaky cart in the first place. Then it would not need to be “steadied” on the bumpy road.

When we act hastily without consulting the Lord, people get hurt. When they do, like King David, we may become angry and blame others including God. Our indignation turns to fear. We’re afraid to risk another serious consequence for what we thought was a trivial oversight or minor error. For a time, we may even refuse to serve God altogether.

Instead, we should figure out what and how God wants things done. When we do things His way, innocent people don’t get hurt.

Vincent Van Gogh's "The Ox-Cart" was donated to the Portland Art Museum by Fred and Frances Sohn in 2007. The famous Dutch artist painted this piece early in his career (1884) after having worked with oil paints for only three years. The painting is very dark and I brightened it a little for placement on this blog.


Joel Slater said...

Thanks for this post! I've often wondered why that man suffered for a seemingly innocent act. I find myself asking God to bless what I am doing rather than do what He is blessing. This is a great illustration to drive home that lessong. Thanks!

Joel Slater

Dave's Bible Blog said...

Hi Joel,

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate hearing from you.