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Remember how the Ark was captured back when Samuel was a boy living with Eli? And how Dagon the false god fell PLOP on the ground, and God’s enemies got sick with bumps — POP, POP, POP, POP? So they sent the Ark back to Israel on a cart pulled by mooing oxen?
Well the Ark had been at the house of a man named Abinidab ever since. The whole time Samuel was leading the people, and the whole time Saul was king, and now with David — God’s Holy Box had been just sitting, sitting, sitting with no special care or treatment.
David wanted that to change! He wanted God’s Holy Ark with him in Jerusalem. “Let’s go get God’s Holy Box,” he told everybody.
David gathered all of the best men in God’s Family — 30,000 of them! — and off they went to go get the Ark of God from Abinidab’s house.
Abinidab lived up on a high hill. So, up, up, up the hill David and his 30,000 specially-picked men went to go get God’s Holy Box.
Abinidab’s sons, Uzzah and his brother, had been guarding the ark all these years… probably their whole adult lives. They knew it was special, and they had taken good care of it. But they were ready to send the Ark to be at home in Zion, the City of David.
“Hmmmm…?” they wondered. “How are we going to move this Ark down this big hill we live on?” Not to mention, Zion was up on the top of another hill… So, they needed to get the Ark of God… down, down, down Abinidab’s hill… and up, up, up… Zion’s hill. That was going to be a lot of work.
In the process of figuring out how they were going to move the Ark, someone had an idea. Now I don’t know whose idea this was, but it was about to cause some serious trouble. The idea was to load the Ark of God on an ox cart the same way the Philistines had sent it back to them so many years before.
Do you remember anything about the instructions God gave to Moses about how to move the Ark? God had given some very specific instructions about moving it. He told them how to cover and carry it… and who should carry it. And Moses made sure to tell the people… and they wrote it down just like God told them to at the time.
But now when the time came to move it, no one looked up God’s specific instructions! They just did what they’d seen done before. The Ark rolled in on an ox cart when the Philistines sent it, so they thought they’d just roll it on in to Zion on an ox cart. They thought that was a pretty logical and smart way to move it.
But this is the Throne where God’s Glory rests! They can’t bring back God’s Glory using any ole way they want. They need to follow the instructions… “as the Lord Commanded.” They evidently thought they were smarter than God.
So up on the brand new ox cart the Ark of God was placed. And off it rolled on its way to Zion, the City of David.
Uzzah and his brother didn’t want anything to happen to God’s Holy Box, so they were guiding the new cart down the hill. Uzzah’s brother was walking in front of the Ark, while David and all Israel were energetically worshipping God. They were singing and playing music with tambourines, rattles and cymbals.
Then suddenly one of the oxen carrying the Ark tripped on something in the road. The ox stumbled, the cart jumbled, and the Ark tumbled.
Uzzah quickly reached out his hand to stop it from falling — he didn’t want the Ark to hit the ground! But once his hand touched God’s Holy Ark, Uzzah died right then and there.
The whole worshipping celebration stopped — silent.
I’m sure you can guess why this happened. They weren’t following God’s instructions. It wasn’t that they didn’t care about the Ark. They put it on a nice new ox cart. They even had a party to go with it. And Uzzah didn’t want the Ark to be broken; he’d reached out to try to stop it from falling. But the whole disaster would have been avoided if they’d just followed the instructions the Lord Commanded. If the priests had been carrying it on poles, the way that it had been Designed to be carried, then the Ark would never have tumbled in the first place.
Have you ever been given some instructions to follow but thought you had a better or smarter way to do it? I would like to suggest that you be very careful thinking you know a better or smarter way than the adults in your life. Most of the time, you just need to follow the instructions!
After Uzzah died, David and all the people were terrified of the Ark. David cried, “How can the Ark, God’s Glory, ever come to be with me?”
So they parked the Ark at the closest house and everyone went home, afraid to do anything else with it.
This disobedient bumbling caused some stumbling and some tumbling, then some humbling… but David learned an important lesson: You can’t bring back the Glory of God without doing it God’s way.