Their beloved king stopped dead in his tracks. Hands with clashing cymbals, tambourines, and castanets froze in space. Fingers which a moment ago were gaily plucking harp strings now hushed them. Singing lips let the song’s next note die. Silence rippled through the throng of thirty thousand. All was still.
King David was angry–mad at God, actually. A corpse lay beside the holy ark of the covenant. Why had the Almighty struck down this man? Uzzah meant no harm. He had had nothing but the best of intentions when he put his hand on the ark to keep it from falling. It wasn’t his fault the oxen stumbled and the cart swayed. What he did was natural.
This was to have been a day of rejoicing. A glorious day of celebration for God. David had planned it to a T. All praise and honor would be lifted to God as the ark, the symbol of His presence, was brought to dwell in Jerusalem. There, he was sure, it would revive his nation’s waning worship of Yahweh. How could God be displeased with making that happen?
David gasped as fear’s icy fingers clutched at his heart. Was he next? “So David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, ‘How can the ark of the LORD come to me?'” (2 Samuel 6:9 NASB).
Executing a quick decision, he motioned for Obed-edom to approach. This Levite lived close; so the ark would stay in his house while David returned to Jerusalem and figured out why God had turned joy into terror.
Three months later King David knew and was ready for a redo. Changing course, he brought the ark to Jerusalem God’s way: “The sons of the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles thereon, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 15:15 NASB). David also realized from Moses’ writings that God had forbidden bearers of the ark to touch it “or they will die” (Numbers 4:15 NIV).
Thus David learned to revere the Holy God with obedience.
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