The Sin of Uzzah: Wrong with Good Intentions

In II Samuel 6 David makes preparations to bring the Ark back from Baale Judah to the Temple, where it belonged. David, accompanied by thirty thousand men, went down to the house of Abinadab and set the Ark on a new cart to transport it. Steering the Ox cart were two men, Uzzah and Ahio (the sons of Abinadab). Ahio went in front of the Ark, and Uzzah followed behind the Ark. This large procession sang and danced, joyfully carrying the Ark back to its proper place. However, along the way (at Nachon's threshing floor), the oxen stumbled. In an attempt to steady the Ark and make sure it would not fall, Uzzah reached out and put his hand on the Ark. Immediately God's anger was aroused against Uzzah and God struck him dead.

A month or so ago, rereading this passage, it struck me that Uzzah had the very best intentions. He was not maliciously trying to push the Ark over, nor was he standing back and allowing it to topple over. To us humans, he reacted quickly to the situation at hand. And even if Uzzah did err, was it not the result of David not insisting on proper procedure for carrying and covering the Ark? (Exodus 25:14, Numbers 4:6)

God, in this brief chapter, shows us two important lessons about how He views our behavior. First and foremost, God is to be revered. What was most holy was not to be touched by man, because it was most holy, and should not be touched by what was common. Consider the priests garments. Exodus 28 tells us that "Holy" garments were to be made for the sons of Aaron to wear when they ministered to God as priests. They were to see the holiness of God, and prepare themselves to be in His presence. Uzzah, in an instant reaction touched the Ark of the Covenant as though it were something common. David shows us what God's purpose was in II Samuel 6:9, "And David was afraid of the Lord that day..." God is not someone that we should think of going through fields frolicking together as buddies. God is our creator, God is our Lord, and He is our savior. Hebrews 12:28 sums this up by saying,

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Secondly, and related to the questions we asked earlier, God shows us that even the best intentions are not reason enough for wrongful behavior. While Uzzah's motives were pure, his actions were not. It was not in God's will that man touch the ark. God had made provisions so that man would not be able to touch the ark. Thus, no matter how pure Uzzah's intentions were, his actions displeased God.

One instance where this seems especially pertinent is with regard to baptism. In a post on this website in February it was brought out that, "Baptism is through water." And as one of the commenter's so put, "Baptism is a burial in water." This was the absolute truth for much of the first two centuries BC. However, in the mid-third century a man by the name of Novation, wanting salvation, but being too ill it was thought for immersion, was sprinkled on his death bed. Novation recovered from that incident, but was never immersed. (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, VI.XLIII) From this point on man began to see sprinkling as an alternate form of Baptism. Here we see where good intentions (saving a man on his death bed) proved to be a death in itself to the fulfillment of God's will. The scriptures bear out in plain detail God's desire that we be immersed (Acts 8:38, Romans 6:3-4). Therefore, it is against His will to baptize any other way. We run a great risk when we begin to consider human circumstances over the will of God. Uzzah was trying to protect the ark. That was a noble task. The men that sprinkled Novation wanted to help him attain salvation. Again, a noble task. Yet, when we begin to change God's will to fit our own circumstances, God's will is compromised.

We are not immune to this thinking today. Many institutions, contrary to the intentions of God, are built in the name of God. Daniel 2:44 tells us the kingdom (the church) will stand forever. Christ does not need institutions to assist its cause. It is not so weak that it must have the assistance of other organizations to help teach its members. It is to be the only body, thoroughly equipping its saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:4, 12-16). Many men have tried, and often with "success," to persuade men of the truth by never mentioning the truth. If we invite them in, speak soothing words; make them feel good, they will be inclined to stay. Or perhaps we dress in costumes so as to make ourselves less offensive. These actions and more (not limited to gambling activities) have been tried in a hope to persuade men of the love that is in Christ. Men with good intentions of bringing many souls to the Lord have compromised the truth so that it might fit within the lifestyle of all men, not realizing that what we convert men to Christ with is what they will be converted to. Therefore, should we not use truth to convert men to what is right! (Ephesians 4:15)

The writer of Hebrews confirms for us what David realized in II Samuel 6, that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Make sure that your intentions are the will of God, that your method is the method of God. Fear Him, do His will, and always seek His truth.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Fear God and keeps His commandments,

For this is man's all.

For God will bring every work into judgment,