Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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ENTERED: August 21, 2014
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Scripture Passage

        1 Chronicles - Chapter 13 (Contemporary English Version)
      1. Some time later, David talked with his army commanders,
      2. and then announced to the people of Israel: While Saul was king, the sacred chest was ignored. But now it's time to bring the chest to Jerusalem. We will invite everyone in Israel to come here, including the priests and the Levites in the towns surrounded by pastureland. But we will do these things only if you agree, and if the LORD our God wants us to.
      3. (SEE 13:2)
      4. The people agreed this was the right thing to do.
      5. David gathered everyone from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo-Hamath in the north.
      6. Then he led them to Baalah in Judah, which was also called Kiriath-Jearim. They went there to get the sacred chest and bring it to Jerusalem, because it belonged to the LORD God, whose throne is above the winged creatures on the lid of the chest.
      7. The sacred chest was still at Abinadab's house, and when David and the crowd arrived there, they brought the chest outside and placed it on a new ox cart. Abinadab's sons Uzzah and Ahio guided the cart,
      8. while David and the crowd danced and sang praises to the LORD with all their might. They played music on small harps and other stringed instruments, and on tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets.
      9. But when they came to Chidon's threshing place, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out and took hold of the chest to stop it from falling.
      10. The LORD God was very angry at Uzzah for doing this, and he killed Uzzah right there beside the chest.
      11. David then got angry at God for killing Uzzah. So he named that place "Attack on Uzzah," and it's been called that ever since.
      12. David was afraid what the LORD might do to him, and he asked himself, "Should I really be the one to take care of the sacred chest?"
      13. So instead of taking it to Jerusalem, David decided to take it to the home of Obed-Edom, who lived in the town of Gath.
      14. The chest stayed there for three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-Edom, his family, and everything he owned.


1 Chronicles - Chapter 13

Entered: August 21, 2014

The previous chapter recounted the military strength God had built up for David, much of which happened before he was even king. So with this military strength in place what was one of the first things David did as king? Chapter 13 tells us that rather than acting militarily, David acted spiritually. He was intent on establishing Jerusalem as the religious center for Israel. As he said to the assembly of Israel, "we did not inquire of Him (the Lord) in Saul's days." For many years Israel had drifted away from the Lord and David wanted to correct this.

The first step in making Jerusalem the religious center was to bring the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem from Kiriath-jearim where it had resided for the past 100 years. All Israel was invited to participate and a great celebration took place as they set the ark on a new cart pulled by oxen. But the celebration came to a halt when the ark arrived at "Chidon's threshing floor" where the oxen stumbled, the ark teetered, and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark and was struck dead by the Lord.

While this act of God may be difficult to understand, our treatment of it will depend on our perspective of God. Do we trust that He is a loving God who acts for our good and therefore accept that while we may not understand, God had a good reason for what He does? Or, are we driven by our need for understanding to conclude that if it makes no sense to me, it must be a senseless act by God?

I do not claim to know all of the reasons God has for doing what He does, but I do trust that He is good and His reasons are always good. What we can know about this occasion is that while David had good intent for moving the ark, He did not inquire about the proper procedures for doing so. When the ark was built, God established that it must be moved by the priests carrying it on their shoulders with poles. No hands were to touch the ark. David's method was more like that of the Philistines who had stolen it some 100 years earlier. They had built a new cart which was pulled by two cows that had never been yoked. Had David moved the ark using the prescribed method, the mishap resulting in the death of Uzzah would never have occurred.

While this event angered David because of Uzzah's death, it also caused him to revere the Lord more, taking more seriously the importance of obedience and the need to inquire of the Lord and and assure that he was acting in accordance to the Lord's desires. We sometimes excuse ourselves when we do something improperly by saying, "Well, my heart was in the right place anyway." But our heart is not truly in the right place unless we seek the Lord's guidance and act accordingly.

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