King David organizes a grand procession by which the Israelites will bring the Ark of God from Judah to the tabernacle in Israel. In this procession, the people place the ark of God on a fancy new cart for travel. Music and dancing surround the procession. But while David and Israel are celebrating the transport of the Ark, the cart is disrupted. To keep it from falling, a man named Uzzah reaches out to catch the Ark. As Uzzah touches the Ark, God in His anger strikes him down. Uzzah dies next to the Ark and halts the entire parade that was meant for God.
At first read, it may be difficult to understand why God would be so angry with Uzzah. But context reveals that during David’s grand procession, he and Israel disobeyed God’s Law. The Ark of God, also known as the Ark of the Covenant, was a sacred wooden chest which contained within it Moses’ stone tablets with the etchings of the Ten Commandments, remnants of manna, and Aaron’s staff. The Ark represented the Presence of God. David knew this. His grand and showy attempt to transport the Ark showed his desire to have God’s Presence near to Him in Jerusalem. But in trying to honor God, David neglected to observe what was most important: what pleased God. In the Law, God’s Ark was not to be transported on a cart. The weight of God’s Glory was supposed to be carried upon the shoulders of the people. To pass the weight of God off of their shoulders and onto a bull cart equated to relinquishing the responsibility for the things of God. Moreover, since the Ark of God was upheld as sacred, God had limited who was permitted to touch it. Only the tribe of Levi, the priests of Israel, were to transport the Ark. By God’s Law, all others who touched the Ark would be struck down. Because of the irresponsibility of David and Israel, and the failure of the Levites to handle God’s affairs as had been commanded, the Ark of God, the representation of the Presence of God, had been left to damage and disgrace on a rickety cart as the people rejoiced around it.
What kind of worship and praise does God desire from us? He is not impressed by the latest and greatest technology, nor does He seek an atmosphere of grand pomp and circumstance. Above all things, God desires hearts that listen and obey His instruction in His Word. Nothing pleases and praises God more than when His people happily carry around His Glory for all to see, and carefully mind the work He has appointed them to do. We fail to glorify God when we forsake these things for grander, bigger, better ways which drown out the whisper of His still small Voice. If you want to please and praise God today, don’t miss what’s most important. Diligently seek His Word and obey it.