Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 16 May 19:
2 Samuel 6:8 — “And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah.”
David was angry at God because God killed Uzzah, but ultimately it was David’s fault as the leader. David set Uzzah up for failure by failing to model and demand respect for God’s holiness and obedience to God’s commands. David led his men in flagrant violation of God’s laws concerning the handling of the ark in accordance with the holiness of God.
The Ark of the Covenant was most Holy, God’s throne, and God was “above it” (Leviticus 16:2). The Ark was kept in the Most Holy Place in the temple where only the High Priest could enter, and only after much ceremonial cleansing. God gave very strict regulations for transporting the Ark. When the ark was to be moved, it was to be covered with at least three layers of cloth by the priests to protect others from seeing it (Numbers 4:5-6, 15, 18-20); the priests/Levites carried it, and everyone else had to stay about a thousand yards away (Joshua 3:4). These laws enforced the concept of God’s holiness: sinful people couldn’t be in his presence, not even the high priest.
“And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.” (2 Samuel 6:5) David led the people in great religious celebration, right up to the point where The Lord’s anger kindled and He struck down Uzzah. True worship is not about emotional songs and much display; it is about a reverent, obedient heart and living lives holy and pleasing to God – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) David should have led in true worship as a living sacrifice before the Lord, wholly obedient to Him, seeking only to please Him.
In his rush to receive the Ark, perhaps to reinforce his own power, David broke all of God’s regulations. Following David’s lead, Uzzah died from carelessly handling the Ark (1 Samuel 6:19). When God held Uzzah accountable for his complacency, David became angry with God rather than taking responsibility for his poor leadership. Perhaps, David did not know he was breaking God’s commands concerning the Ark, but ignorance is no excuse for a leader. Bad leadership hurts others.
“How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9) When we lose perspective on God’s holiness, we begin to place ourselves ahead of God. We pursue, “My will be done,” rather than “Thy will be done,” and we expect God to serve us rather than the other way around. David failed Uzzah because David was too focused on getting what he wanted rather than simply honoring God. Again, God had provided clear, easily understandable instructions on how to transport the Ark, but apparently, no bothered to review them.
“And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.” (2 Samuel 6:13, 14) All of this was unnecessary and, to some observers, foolishness. All they had to do was obey the laws of Exodus 25. God desires obedience, not extravagant religious ceremony and sacrifice. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14) “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16, 17)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 May 19: Focus on simple, loving obedience to the Lord today as an act of worship to Him. Lead others in loving obedience to God.