There is more mixture in this chapter, meaning that David shows both good and bad characteristics in his behavior.
It was a great move of David to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. It represented the presence of God. If you remember, the ark had been stuck in a distant city for a number of years after seventy Israelites were killed after they looked inside of it. But David wanted God’s presence near him and he knew it would be a unifier of the northern and southern kingdoms. That’s the good news.
But David failed to remember that God instructed his people to only transport the ark on poles, not a cart. The ark was to never be touched. When the ox stumbled, Uzzah reached out to catch the ark, and bam…God struck him dead. Perrez-Uzzah means the outburst against Uzzah.
Uzzah meant well, but good intentions aren’t all that God is looking for. He’s looking for people that understand and respect his holiness. You were not supposed to touch the ark for any reason. It was like touching God…most disrespectful.
There is always such a tension between God’s holiness and our compassion for people. Our natural reaction is to be mad at God for taking a life. In fact, the text said that David was mad at God. Most of us can relate to that. When we can’t understand God we immediately blame him.
I wonder if anyone was mad at Uzzah for touching the ark, or mad at David for allowing the people to use a cart. He should have known better. Do you see what I mean? Why are we quick to defend people over God? Why aren’t we more jealous for the holiness of God?
This experience shows us the righteous wrath of God. It shows us the way things would always be if it wasn’t for Jesus. God’s holiness can’t allow unrighteousness in its presence. That’s why God sent Jesus. Jesus came to absorb God’s wrath…to take the penalty for sin on our behalf. You see, it’s impossible for God to alter his holiness, but he did provide a way to protect us from the wrath that comes from his holiness. Aren’t you glad for that?
Because of Uzzah’s death, the Israelites parked the ark outside of town in fear of what might happen. But, after three months, David finally decided to finish what he started by bringing the ark to Jerusalem.
I can’t tell from the text who was at fault between David and his wife. The traditional teaching is that David was in the right. He was worshipping God and his wife was more concerned with him showing some flesh than worshipping God. The implication was that God cursed Michal for her attitude and that’s why she couldn’t have any children.
If this is true, the lesson is that we should worship with reckless abandon and not let others intimidate us.
But I have to wonder if David couldn’t have been more discreet and more honoring of his wife. There had to have been a way to passionately worship without attracting so much attention to himself. In verse 22 he showed no humility but only contempt for his wife. It’s no wonder she bore no more children. The rift between the two of them kept them apart.
Personally, I think David used his passion for God as an excuse for disrespecting his wife. I’ve seen this in the church many times through the years. This is another example of how David was a mixture of love for both God and himself.
In both situations with the ark, David’s love for God should not have been an excuse for his behavior. I hope you’ll reflect on your own life. I trust you love God. But could it be that you sometimes use your spirituality to excuse your behavior?
Prayer: Father, it’s humbling to see a spiritual man like David take missteps. It’s humbling because it tells me I can do the same. Please show me the ways I might use my love for you as an excuse for misbehavior. Purify my thinking so I might honor you in all that I think, do, and say. Amen.