And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 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. (2 Samuel 6:6-7)
The Penalty Of Error
It is one of the saddest stories in the Bible but one of the most profound. David had become king, and Jerusalem had been conquered. The ark of God had been at Kirjath Jearim since the Philistines returned it in the days of Samuel. King David wanted to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem with great fanfare. They set the ark of God on a new cart driven by two men, Uzzah and Ahio. When the procession came to a threshing floor, the oxen stumbled and it looked as though the ark would fall. Uzzah put out his hand and took hold of the ark to steady it. The anger of God was aroused against Uzzah and he was struck dead. Uzzah died there by the ark of God.
David had mistakenly moved the ark in a manner forbidden by the Lord. Many years earlier, when the Philistines returned the ark to Israel, they put the ark on a new cart drawn by two milk cows. The cows brought the ark to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh. There the wood was used to sacrifice the cows and the Levites came and secured the ark. Because the people looked into the ark of the Lord, more than fifty thousand people were killed by the hand of the Lord. The penalty of their error was to do what God forbade.
Uzzah died because of his error. An error is not a mistake. It is flagrant disobedience to the word of God. The story of Uzzah has challenged human wisdom to understand why God took such a rash action against a seemingly innocent act. What is lost in the story is the purity of God’s word and the expectation of complete obedience to the word of God. There is no margin for human wisdom to change the word of God. The fact remains the ark was being transported in a manner forbidden by God. It was to be carried on the shoulders of the priests and was not. David became angry because of what happened and then he became afraid. He knew why God killed Uzzah.
The word of God has suffered abuse from the beginning of time. Satan changed a small part of God’s word to deceive the woman. The Lord has always been very plain in His commands with the expectations of obedience from the heart of men. There has never been a time God has allowed men to change His word without penalty. Error is everything that stands against the word of God. When men follow error, they engage in the error of Uzzah, who, for good reasons, did something forbidden. Does it make a difference to the Lord? Ask the fifty thousand plus seventy who died when they looked into the ark or Uzzah who took hold of the ark of God. Jesus acknowledged that God’s word was truth and there was no other truth. Anything that is not found in the word of God is error. And you know the rest of that story.