1 Chronicles 13:9-10
When they came to the threshing-floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen shook it. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God.
Devotion by Anne Mooney
This is not a heart-warming text. In fact, it is puzzling and can down right make one think twice about what it means to believe in and follow the will of a God that could get angry over something so petty. I don’t pretend to know the answer, but in my study of scripture this past year, I have learned to open my mind to interpreting the story from a wider point of view…a metaphorical point of view, if you will. After all, this Bible was written by humans. It is often a reflection of limited perspective. I think God calls us to dig deeper and find the hidden nugget.
So, when I was given the list of scriptures for our September devotions, I noticed the ones from 1 Chronicles were listed as being about teamwork. Certainly it took a team to move the ark of the covenant. The Israelites had a list of rules they carefully followed when carrying the ark as they wandered through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. But they had never brought the ark into their capital city, the home of their king. Now King David thought it would be a great idea to bring the ark “home.” In the process, there was a stumble, and Uzzah’s spontaneous effort to rescue the ark led to his death. It broke David’s heart. He thought he was doing something great for God and his kingdom. What went wrong? Uzzah thought he was being helpful? What went wrong?
It reminds me of something I have learned (albeit I often forget) in my Al-Anon program. It is about forcing solutions. So many times I have been guilty of trying to force solutions that simply weren’t mine to solve in the name of helping someone’s relationships or problems involving addiction. I forget that God is in charge and I am not an all-knowing force, even when my intentions are for the good. I thought letting my daughter and her boyfriend live with me would be a good idea. They would be safe and off the streets. I could influence them to not use drugs. Instead, they brought chaos, grief, and drugs into my home. I didn’t help them. I only alienated them with my anger and frustration.
God’s plan was not for David to bring the ark back to his city, just like it was not God’s plan for David to build a temple for God’s glory. God doesn’t need our glory, but God does want our cooperation and our attention. If we aren’t staying in touch with God on a daily basis, we can easily lose contact with what God really wants us to do. The consequences might not be as severe as Uzzah’s, but we can be left feeling puzzled and humiliated.
God, I offer myself to you. Use me to do your will. Take away my need for self-reliance and pride. Let my actions be a demonstration of your power and way of life. Amen