It seem like everyone today is fighting for respect. It seems like our culture is consumed with a focus that can be summed up by the sarcasm of a well-known comedian, “I get no respect!” This last week I was thinking about how should Jesus’ followers respect Him?
Our Celebrate Summer series has been working through 2 Samuel as we have been examining King David’s example of a person that God used. This week we spent time looking at in 2 Samuel 6 and the need for reverence and the consequences when it is lacking. The account in chapter 6 is fairly well known for the death of Uzzah when he touched the Ark of the Covenant when the oxen stumbled. What on the surface appear to be difficult to understand and even unfair is really a reminder of what happens when we become sloppy as followers of Jesus. Let me unpack several insights, from the back story, that lead us to a different conclusion.
First, we need to be careful not to act outside of God’s direction for our lives. This insight surfaces from our study of David’s life. He modeled seeking God’s leading as is revealed in the various accounts. And in our passage it is clearly missing. Now I cannot say if David sought the Lord on moving the Ark to Jerusalem or not. But it does stand out to me that there is no mention and the end result was the loss of a man’s life. David’s response in anger also leads me to wonder if this was David’s desire or God’s will. If my assumption is accurate it speaks to the necessity of not getting ahead of God. Just like a child that misses a curfew is disrespectful of a parents love and authority, so also our independent acts are disrespectful of God’s authority over us.
Second, we need to accurately follower God’s instructions. I know when I read this passage it would be easy to think that what happened is unfair. Uzzah was just trying to help! Yet what we learn as a dig deeper is that a number of compromises cost him his life. The first is that God had designed the ark to be carried on the shoulders of Levites, not on a cart. The Philistines moved the Ark on a cart but God had given clear direction to His people. He even created the Ark with loops and poles for its transportation. There would have been no death if they had not compromised God’s clear instruction. God had ordained that the Levites were responsible for moving the tabernacle and its furnishing. There is debate among scholars whether Uzzah was a Levite. But there is no debate that touching the Ark was forbidden except by a priest. I wonder how often we rationalize (or tell ourselves rational-lies ) to justify not following God’s Word accurately?
Third, externals do not override God’s instruction. Several things stand out here. First, they put the Ark on a “new cart.” It does not matter that it was a new cart because God made it clear it was to be carried. They also had a wonderful emotional celebration lead by the King. There was great music, there was plenty of energy and there was an abundance of excitement. The King and the people were in party mode, but God was not happy. It is easy to think that we are serving God when really we are serving ourselves. I like to say, “There are no short cuts in the game of real life.” There is no shortcut around what God has clearly communicated only consequences. Our dance around God’s truth is our demonstration a lack of reverence for our Creator.
It do find it interesting that the second attempt to move the Ark was successful because there was a Godly fear among all those involved (notice it was carried on shoulders not a cart!) So how about you? Do your choices demonstrate a follower that is serious about following our Creator?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson