By Russ Ramsey
Poor Uzzah. All he did was stretch out his hand to stabilize the ark to keep it from falling into the mud. He was only trying to help. I remember hearing RC Sproul talking about this passage. He said, “The presumptuous sin of Uzzah was this: he assumed that his hands were less polluted than the dirt. There was nothing about the earth that would desecrate the throne of God.”
The Lord told His people back in Numbers 4 that if they ever touched the holy throne of God, they would die. Only the priests could go into His holy presence and only after purifying themselves. Why? Because God’s utterly perfect holiness burns like a fire too radiant and purifying for a sinful people.
This was an important moment for Israel. How easy it would have been after David’s rise to power for Israel to begin to think of themselves as a nation like any other nation—a people defined by a king, an army, a capital city, and their position among the other nations. They did not exist as a result of military dominance, unmatched wealth, or longevity in a region. They were nomads who had only recently even crowned a king. Israel’s existence always came back to one fundamental truth—they were God’s covenant people.
As God’s covenant people, their first priority was to stand before their holy God in humility, worship, and righteousness. God was both the author and audience of their story. The reason they had the ark in the middle of their camp was that the God of all holiness lived in their midst, calling them to relate to Him as He instructed. In the tabernacle of His presence, they gathered to worship on His terms, not theirs.
What happened to Uzzah may sound hopelessly unfair, but what happened to Uzzah is precisely what the Lord said would happen if a sinful hand tried to take hold of His throne. It’s not that what happened to Uzzah was unjust. It’s that what has happened to the rest of us is mercy. Remember, we see the holiness of God now through the sacrifice of Christ. Jesus lived up to that perfect standard of holiness that we all fail to meet. In the process of doing so, He lived among us, touched us, healed us, spoke truthfully, and lavished us with mercy upon mercy. The holiness of God never diminishes. He does not change. If we try to touch Him in our own righteousness, we will surely die. But Christ robes us in His righteousness so that we can stand unashamed and holy in His sight.
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2 thoughts on "David Moves the Ark of the Covenant"
Thanks Russ. What a great word of encouragement. I sure missed the He Reads Truth teams devotionals the first week of this study.
I love how RC Sproul talks about this passage. He says that Uzzah’s presumptuous sin was that he assumed that his hands were less polluted than the dirt. This is so true. We all make assumptions about things all the time, and we need to be careful not to do this. We need to be humble and remember that we are all sinners, and we need to be careful not to contaminate anything we come in contact with.
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