Here Comes the Ark (Part 1)

The Ark of the Covenant

         It was quite an occasion. One of the greatest of occasions. The Ark was coming home! David had recently captured the city of Jerusalem and made it his headquarters and capital city after becoming king of all Israel.

         The Ark of the Covenant was located at the city of Kiriath-jearim, a town also known as Baale-judah. This location was none other than the center of Baal worship in the tribal land of Judah. During all the battle and confusion of the Saul-David transition period the Ark had resided on a hill here in the home of Abinadab for twenty years. David had decided he must unify Israel and bring the Ark to Jerusalem. He had never used the Ark in his battles with Saul, but now it was time to bring everything and everyone together. Though David was king, he knew the real King was the Lord God and that He must reign from Jerusalem.

         Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals. [2 Samuel 6:5]   

         It was quite a scene! A great celebration of national unity, a new beginning, and worship of the Lord who made it all happen. But there was a later mishap along the way. Aminadab’s second and third sons, Uzzah and Ahio, were chosen to assist in the passage, and were driving the new cart holding the Ark on the journey. When the procession arrived at the uneven rock surface of a threshing floor, the oxen had nearly tipped the cart over, and Uzzah reflexively reached out to the Ark to steady it, apparently thinking it was part of his responsibility to protect the Ark. As soon as he made contact he died. The record states:

         But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God. [2 Samuel 6:6-7]

         Uzzah miscued big time. He was killed for his lack of proper reverence, though most Bible versions called it his error. Well, YEAH. He obviously wasn’t properly prepped, or was and messed up anyway. No one had taken up the Ark in many years, and it is understandable that mistakes were made regarding proper procedures and protocol. Had Uzzah grown too familiar with the Ark since it had resided at his father’s house all those years? Uzzah’s name means “strength,” and he obviously was leaning on his own understanding and human ability during the incident. One can hear the words of the apostle Peter echoing in from the distant future, when the Lord had just told him the Son of Man must go to Jerusalem and die:

         Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” [Matthew 16:22]

         Tipping oxen or not, it was not the place of Uzzah to take hold of the Ark to protect it, or whatever he thought he was doing. Only the Kohathite branch of the Levites could carry the Ark, upon their shoulders by way of poles through rings on either side, and not on an ox cart. They were the only ones vested by God with the sacredness and reverence for the privilege, and were never to touch it.

         But David didn’t see it that way. He immediately grew very angry for what had happened then grew disillusioned, and as he realized he was the actual party at fault he got scared. He had just been worshipping God with the entire Israel woodwind, stringed instrument, and percussion section, happy as a clam and on a spiritual high, and looking forward to the great entry into Jerusalem. The “Breach of Uzzah,” as the place became known, was such that the procession had to stop. The celebration was cut short. The Lord would not be going to the City of the King any time soon.

         So David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” [2 Samuel 6:9] [1]

            When the presence of the Lord is on the way to our country, our city, our house, or our very heart, we must pay attention. It would be good to get on our face, show the proper reverence and respect, be thankful and appreciative for the great privilege, and follow the Lord’s protocol. Whatever we do, we must make sure we do nothing to stop or impede the process. He may never pass our way again. [Part 1 of 4]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on May 26, 2011, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Sounds like a case of misplaced zeal, or at least, zeal without knowledge. What was Uzzah thinking…before, during and after he did what he did? Did he even have time to think? Was it just WOOPS…UH OOH…then POOF?. Maybe what he did revealed his lack of knowledge or perhaps the condition of his heart.

    If we know Jesus, really KNOW Him, we know the Father. Our Zeal then is revealed in that knowledge and our heart-felt confidence that our awsome God is in charge. Our first impluse then must not be to “grab the bull…or the Ark” by the horns, but to Zealously guard our actions and proceed prayerfully. David thought it was up to him to get the Ark moved….what ever it took…protocol was forgotten. Uzzah did not “let go and let G0d”; neither did David. Once he had aserted himself…it was too late.



  2. Three point shot at the buzzer, Don, from about fifty feet. Christians and Christian leaders often have no idea Who they’re dealing with, and misunderstand, unknowingly or not, Who’s in charge. Uzzah found out instantly, though others of the present find out over time, since the Lord’s judgment is oftentimes not immediate. It’s His deal, it’s all about Him, and we better figure that out and act accordingly if we want to see and experience the life He has for us and the results He wants.


  3. In the second paragraph of the above post, I wrote that the Ark of the Covenant was in Kiriath-jearim for twenty years. This was based on an ISBE article and on 1 Samuel 7:2, which states:

    “From the day that the ark remained at Kiriath-jearim, the time was long, for it was twenty years; and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.”

    According to “The King’s Calendar,” which uses independent mathematical calculations, the total time period was actually seventy years. The seventy-year period is somewhat problematic, because it presupposes a possible time error in the Scriptural account. The Ark was in Kiriath-jearim prior to Saul ever becoming king, and remained there for at least the first seven and a half years of David’s reign. Sources differ on Saul’s exact regnal period, but Luke records a message spoken by the apostle Paul in Acts 13:21, in which he said King Saul reigned for forty years. For more on this discussion, see:


  4. This Scriptural account has always perplexed me because I have always presupposed that Uzzah acted reflexively to steady the Ark. But, your statement, “Had Uzzah grown too familiar with the Ark since it had resided at his father’s house all those years?” is a valid observation and one that I had not considered. One thing that I do know is that we are guilty in this country of having grown “too familiar” with God. We have forgotten what it means to have any significant fear of the Lord. As a result, we have turned God into someone we feel we can “handle.” I am reminded of the line from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books about Aslan: “He is not a tame lion.” Like the Israelites in Jesus’ time, we are looking for the wrong Jesus. They were looking for Jesus, the “conquering king” and got the “sacrificial lamb.” We are looking for Jesus, the “sacrifical lamb” and we should be looking for Jesus, the Conquering King. There are two sides to Jesus, the Priestly and the Judicial. We don’t focus much on the judicial side of Christ. We aren’t too comfortable with that “judgment part.”


  5. Oh, WOW. Good. Timely. Praise JESUS! Thank you.


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