David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. 3 And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, 4 with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.
5 And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. 6 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.
II Samuel 6: 1-7
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I’m sorry for the silence. I haven’t written in two weeks, but it is not for lack of trying. I’ve been wrestling with tangled thoughts and emotions that refused to transpose into word. The past two weeks have been so difficult, but this time the difficulty laid entirely in the spiritual realm rather than in the physical.
I woke up last Sunday morning feeling off. I felt broken. I felt wrong. And guilt poured into my heart and head as I began to see the sin that had crept up into my thoughts. This sin of discontentment, this sin of not thinking I have enough, of thinking I’m not getting enough. I let down my guard. I let down my joy. I began to see things from the world’s point of view. I didn’t even realize it was happening, until I woke up in a pile of anger. I was reminded of that day so long ago when King David came and took back the Ark of the Covenant. He brought with him thirty thousand men and together they walked, they celebrated, forgetting what they had with them, forgetting Who they had with them.
They became casual. Casual with the presence of God in their lives. So much that they carried His presence just like those enemies they loathed. In case you don’t remember, years prior the Philistines had captured the Ark, and only after experiencing the punishment of God did they decide to return it to Israel. They loaded the Ark onto a wooden cart, led by cattle and sent it back towards Israel. And in II Samuel 7, we see those Israelites doing the same thing. What worked for the world now became an example for God’s holy people, God’s set apart people. And those Philistines in their blindness could not see what they had in their possession, but shouldn’t His people have seen? Shouldn’t they have known? Because their eyes were open, they saw, they knew. And yet they allowed themselves to become casual with what they had, with what they knew. Even to the point of carrying God’s presence on a plain wooden cart, a cart carried by oxen, no less special than a farm hand. They were given instructions. They were told how to carry the presence of God, but they ignored those instructions. They ignored the reverence. They walked like Philistines. And as the cart began to jostle and the Ark seemed to fall, one of Israel’s own, in complete casualty reached up to handle the presence of God. He reached to steady the One who had no need of steadying. This Uzzah, this Israelite who lost his life because of his casualty to the Great I AM, he is no different than I. For I carry the presence of God with me every day, and yet, how often do I carry Him with the same irreverence, with the same casualty. Because Jesus becomes my friend and I forget that He is also much more. And so, I carry Him into movies and rooms that He has no business being in. I place Him on carts that are made for dirt and junk, instead of carrying Him like I would a king.
I become casual with my King. And with the danger of casualty, comes the danger of forgetting who He is, forgetting what He does for me, forgetting that we are nothing without Him. Because when we bring God down to our level, we start to think we can do just as much on our own as we can with Him. And when we start to think that, well, the Ark in our own lives, the one that carries God’s presence within us, it gets jostled. We ignore those instructions on how to carry Him in our life. We do it our way, because our way looks easier, our way is what the world would have said to do, and that world sometimes can look so smart, so right, so delicious.
Just like the apple.
And then with casualty comes complacency. Complacency gives ear to lies. Lies that I can become more, lies that I can do more, lies that I need more. And when these lies begin to take root, I am only left with a life that proves otherwise. And soon I am living a life that is nothing, because I am trying to be king, and God, the God, Creator of All, is carried in me, but not carried by me.
And so I bring us back to Uzzah.
Uzzah, this Israelite who lost his life because of his casualty to the Great I AM.
Uzzah, this Israelite who has so much to teach us.
Uzzah, this Israelite who is so much like us. Like me. Like you.
We live in a new world. A world where the veil has been torn and we are now the holy of holies. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. But let us come with reverence, let us come in awe, let us come with a heart full of worship for the Great Sovereign One. The One who needs no steadying, but instead with great love, mercy, and justice steadies us.