Mixing the Ways of the World with the Things of God

The account in 2 Sam. 6 of David’s attempt to bring the ark of the Lord back to Jerusalem is one filled with many lessons for the Church today. For twenty years the ark had lain idle in the house of Abinadab, having been brought there by the men of Kirjath Jearim( 1 Sam. 7)Previously, the Philistines had captured it from the Israelites who had trusted more in the ark than they did in the Lord as they went into battle. As a result of their misplaced trust, Israel was routed by the enemy who now had in its possession the tangible representation of the power and suffering of Jehovah.

It was not long however before they realized the danger of trying to contain the God of Israel. Placing the ark in the house of their pagan deity Dagon, they awoke the next morning only to find that he had fallen flat on his face before the ark of the Lord. Setting him back in his place, they again found Dagon on the ground the next morning, this time with his head and hands broken off. Soon tumors broke out among the people as the hand of God came down upon the Philistines. Bewildered, the rulers asked the pagan priests what could be done to alleviate their affliction and suffering The answer –put the ark of the covenant on a cart and return it to Israel with a Philistine trespass offering. (1 Sam. 5-6) The ark was then returned to Israel via the men of Kirjath Jearim who brought it to Abinadab’s house where it stayed “for a long time.” Years afterward upon the demise of Saul and the installation of David as the King of Israel, a concerted effort was made to bring the ark of God up to Jerusalem. David’s plan was to establish his kingdom in glory. Selecting thirty thousand choice men for the task, the ark was set upon a new cart and the joyful procession to Jerusalem began. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab were chosen to drive the cart. A great musical celebration ensued as “progress” was begun to revitalize the power and prestige of Israel which had languished for years. But it did not go as smoothly as planned. When they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, something in the pathway caused the oxen to stumble and the ark to begin sliding off the cart. Reacting instinctively,Uzzah put out his hand to stop the ark, and was immediately struck dead by God “for his error” (2 Sam. 6:6-7) Understandably, David was confused and “afraid of the Lord that day.” Why did God act so harshly against Uzzah? Why did it seem that the Lord was opposed to David’s efforts? Hadn’t David good intentions in bringing the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem to restore it to its proper place and prominence? So why then, did things go so terribly wrong?

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