Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. 2 Samuel 6:6-8
From a purely human perspective, God’s anger in this passage can seem like an over-reaction to the situation. After all, Uzzah was really only trying to help. He was concerned for the ark and he acted to “protect” it.
Let’s set up the context a bit. The ark of the covenant had been taken by the Philistines several years earlier. David determined the time was right to bring it back into the lives of the Israelites. There were a few items that are of great concern to God in regards to how they carried out this process. First, the ark was to be transported in a very specific manner--on a cart driven by oxen was not that manner. Secondly, it was very clear that nobody was to touch the ark. It was so sacred that the high priest could only be in its direct presence on one day of the year, the day of atonement.
Uzzah’s actions are based on some wrong assumptions. The first assumption is that the ends justifies the means. In other words, there was a belief in this group that the transportation of the ark was not a big deal, it was all about getting it into their perceived right location even though God was very clear about the means of transportation. The second assumption is that the ark needed to be protected from a fall and hitting the ground, which Uzzah believed to be dirty or unclean. In reality the truly unclean item was not the ground, it was Uzzah (and all the other people) as a sinful human being.
David’s reaction to the events, to God’s striking of Uzzah, indicates that he shares these assumptions. How could you kill Uzzah, God, when what we were doing was the right thing to do? Uzzah didn’t deserve to die, he was just saving the ark (as if any man can ever be in a position to “save” God and His presence).
What assumptions do you make when you are making decisions? Are there faulty assumptions that you need to confront in your life that are allowing you to choose contrary to God’s intentions? As you make decisions and as you respond to situations, be certain to carefully consider how you are making your decisions and choosing your responses. Even the man after God’s own heart struggled here--and if we are honest, so do we.