David Blames God For His Error
The record of Uzzah provides us with another account of something evil that is attributed to the anger and the hand of God. As we have seen in other chapters from my book, Ideolatry, God is Not Your Problem, The Character and Nature of God, the perspective of the viewer is largely in play when observations and conclusions are made regarding events. The events that we will now consider are the actions that terminated the life of Uzzah. Therefore, some historical perspective and some understanding of who Uzzah was will be helpful before exploring the specifics of this event.
Uzzah was just trying to do a good deed by preventing the destruction of the Ark of the Covenant. However, as it is written in 2 Samuel, things went terribly wrong for him due to “the anger of the Lord.” In 2 Samuel 6:7 we read that “God struck him” and he lost his life.
2 Samuel 6:7 (NKJV)
Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.
So why did he die for his efforts, spent on a good deed, protecting something as valuable as the Ark of the Covenant? As we delve into this account, we will make some discoveries that may give the reader pause in attributing the death of Uzzah to a whim of God’s wrath.
Understanding who is responsible for the death of Uzzah is important. It is revealed through the examination of his lineage. Uzzah and his brother Ahio were the sons of Abinadab, whose father was Jesse. King David was the youngest son of Jesse and Uzzah’s father, Abinadab, was David’s older brother. Jesus is a descendant of Jesse by way of David. The lineages of David and Uzzah are traced back to Judah, a son of Jacob (Israel), one of the twelve tribes in 1 Chronicles Chapter 2. Judah and Levi were brothers, each representing one of the twelve tribes.
As we saw in Deuteronomy 10, God separated out Levi and his descendants for service as priests to Him. They alone were given the responsibility of the tabernacle and the Ark. Levi was not provided a physical inheritance among the tribes, so he and his family could dedicate themselves to God’s service.
We can now see three things that were not done according to the protocols that God had established for handling of the Ark:
- The first was the mode of transport. The Ark was placed on the cart rather than being carried by men on foot.
- The second was the lack of use of the poles to lift it.
- The third was that the transporters were men from the tribe of Judah, not Levi.
These were all serious breaches of God’s protocols. Uzzah’s life was the price that was paid because God’s warning was not heeded. King David was the man in charge and was responsible for seeing to it that these protocols were followed. So let’s look at David’s reaction to the event described in 2 Samuel 6:8-11.
David was understandably unhappy about the death of Uzzah and stated that God had made a breach upon Uzzah. This attribution of making a breach to God was tantamount to accusing God of making a violation or infraction upon Uzzah. In reality, the infraction or breach was actually one of ignorance or carelessness on the part of David and Uzzah, not God. David recoils from the problem. He sets the Ark aside so that he can assess the situation, placing it into the house of Obededom.
Obviously, there was a lack of knowledge regarding the handling and protocols that surrounded the Ark, and it is this lack of knowledge that led to Uzzah’s destruction. Uzzah and Ahio grew up with the presence of the Ark of the Covenant in their household since the Ark was present with their father, Abinidab, for 20 years. It is possible that there was a familiarity that they acquired and possibly even a sense of ownership of sorts. Was it really the anger of God that caused a breach? Perhaps it was the playing out of the warning of Hosea 4:6, which is very applicable here.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...
So who actually killed Uzzah? Uzzah’s lack of knowledge about the consequences of his action made him culpable, but it appears that he was just following orders, orders that came down from David, the King. As the King, David had a level of responsibility to God. There was an expectation that he understood the protocols that the handling of the Ark required. He was at very least required to consult with his advisors, the priests, about such matters. It is evident that he did not do so since he freely admitted that the breach had occurred because of a lack of following the due order.
It would, therefore, be no stretch of logic or interpretation to see that God was not the culprit in the death of Uzzah. God was not issuing a proclamation of punishment that would occur as a result of an errant activity. He was issuing a warning because He knew what would happen if things were not done according to protocol. Once again, the perspective or prejudice of the observer has attributed an act of violence and destruction to God. However, this was not the case. It was completely in the hands of the individuals involved in the activity. God continually makes warnings to save people from destruction, not to lead them into it.
The way in which you view God determines whether you see Him as your protector or your punisher. A change in your thought process, realizing that God is truly “looking out” for you, helps you to understand where the responsibility for consequences really lies. Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” their descendants have been responsible for the consequences of a lack of knowledge. Couple a lack of knowledge with ego or fear, and that deadly combination can lead you to destruction as we see in Chapter 17 when David’s disobedience cost the lives of 70,000 people.
Go deeper into how the Ark went from the care of the tribe of Levi to the care of King David in Chapter 16 of the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide which dives into some of the history of Ark of the Covenant.
And check out the 10% off bundle at the Ideolatry online shop, http://ideolatry.com/shop, where you can purchase the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide and other Ideolatry Products.