"Because We Did Not Consult Him About The Proper Order"
King David had a plan. It sounded like a great plan. The ark of the covenant had for years been kept at the home of Abinadab in Kirjath Jearim, and David wanted to bring the ark home to his new capital in Jerusalem. So he gathered a large assembly of people and they went to retrieve the ark of God. They placed the ark on a new cart that would be pulled by oxen and driven by two sons of Abinadab, Uzzah and Ahio.
Everything seemed to be going perfectly. David and all Israel played music and celebrated the return of the ark. What a day it was going to be!
Then the oxen stumbled. Uzzah reached out his hand to hold the ark, and God struck him dead on the spot. The party was over. David was very angry at God for striking down Uzzah, so much so that he named the place “Outburst Against Uzzah.” David was angry…but he was also afraid of God’s wrath. Humbled considerably, David left the ark at the house of Obed Edom and returned to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 13).
Some time passed, and David did what he should have done in the very beginning: he looked to God’s word. In doing so, he discovered a very important fact – God had told the Israelites how He wanted His ark to be moved. It was not to be transported on some ox-drawn cart like the Philistines had moved it; the ark was to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites, just as Moses had commanded them (1 Chronicles 15:15). David told the priests, “For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order” (1 Chronicles 15:13).
So David went to retrieve the ark again. This time, he did exactly as God’s word commanded: the Levites carried the ark. This time, no one died. In fact, God HELPED the Levites to carry the ark (1 Chronicles 15:26). When David carefully followed the pattern God had given, he got the happy ending he had wanted all along: “So David, the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-Edom with joy” (1 Chronicles 15:25).
There is a lesson here for us, as well. When it comes to worshiping the Lord, He has told us exactly what He wants. Everything we need to serve Him has been revealed to us through His word: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Do I know what His pattern is? Do I even care? Unfortunately, there are many religious people in the world who conduct various forms of worship because “it feels right” or because “this is the way most everybody does it.” Putting the ark on a cart seemed to “feel right” to David and the rest of Israel. It was certainly the way “most everybody else would do it”; it was how the Philistines had moved it years earlier, after all (1 Samuel 6). Did any of that mean that it was the way God wanted it done? Obviously not – we have but to look at Uzzah’s example to answer that question.
So what about us? Do we base our spiritual practices on what God wants, or on what we want?
Shall our musical worship be composed of concerts and shows, when God has only authorized us to use the voices that He gave us? “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19); “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). God has told us to sing. Is that enough for me? Or do I prefer my way with my “improvements” over God’s pattern?
What about the plan of salvation? So many well-meaning, religiously-minded people believe and teach that all God expects from us is to believe in Jesus Christ and ask Him to come into our hearts. Is that what God said to do to have our sins washed away?
God absolutely expects us to believe in Jesus and confess Him as the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10). That belief only occurs through one source: God’s word (Romans 10:17). Truly believing in the Son of God means that I am no longer going to follow my own path; instead, I will turn away from sin and turn toward Him. The Bible calls this repentance, and we cannot be saved without it, either: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
These are all absolutely necessary, but they are not everything God has said on the matter of salvation. What gets us into Christ? “For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26). When are our sins washed away? “And now why are your waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
But we cannot stop there. The crown of life is given to those who continue to walk in faithfulness until death (Revelation 2:10). We become a new creature at baptism (Romans 6:4); the Lord wants us to spend the rest of our lives growing in faith and the knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18).
So which of these is necessary for salvation? ALL of them! Why? Because that is the pattern that God has given us. It’s His plan for salvation. He gets to make the rules. Will I consult His word for the proper order, or will I do things my way and expect God not to notice?
God has never taken kindly to people messing around with His instructions; the story of Uzzah clearly shows that. Will I be content with His way? If He is truly Lord of my life, then I will have it no other way than His.