2 Samuel 6:9 (KJV) And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?
The complex nature of events happening within the previous passages of Scripture is enough to deter many of us from seeking to approach God for fear the same may happen to us (vv. 6-8). This leads us to wonder, as David did, how is it possible to have the presence of God within our midst if we are unable to reach out and touch Him? What is the proper way to handle the presence of God?
Understanding The Text
We must first understand that the problem does not begin with Uzzah’s approach to touching the ark, but in the breach of the law regarding how the ark of the covenant was to be transported. The sons of Kohath were given the charge to transport the ark by placing the staves (poles), which were made specifically for this purpose, through the specially made hoops on the ark. Then, the ark was to be lifted and carried on the shoulders of the sons of Kohath to the predetermined destination (Num. 4:4-15; 7:9).
The second problem is the sons of Kohath were given the charge to transport the ark and its contents only (Num. 4:15). The Levites were not permitted to touch any holy thing, especially the Ark of the Covenant (Num. 18:3). The commandment to physically handle the holy vessels and contents of the Ark was assigned to the High Priest and his sons (Num. 4:4,15). Therefore, no earlier consideration was given to how to conduct themselves in this processional (mistake #1), and this led to an honest mistake being made by Uzzah who was merely trying to protect the things of God.
However, Uzzah was a Levite, which means that he should have been well instructed on how to approach his office. His attempt to prevent the Ark from falling to the ground is overshadowed by his Levitical instruction because he should have known that the Ark was to be carried upon the shoulders and place on a cart pulled by oxen (mistake #2). This disregard for God’s instruction ultimately led to his immediate death and the suspension from further movement.
Psalms 139:7-10 (KJV) Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Why Is This Important To Us?
What can we, in the contemporary context, glean from this Biblical example? Although we have been made “…kings and priests unto God…,” who have also been “…sanctified through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ…,” and we have been granted access into the Holy of Holies (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; Heb. 10:10; 4:16), we must also approach the presence of God and extend the appropriate respect and reverence which is due to Him. We must approach our roles as “priests of God” with the utmost sensitivity and understanding of what our responsibilities entail as presented to us within the Word of God. Having gained an understanding of our responsibilities, we must depend upon God fully to provide the wisdom and grace with which to execute our responsibilities as we have been called to do. We can never lean to our understanding (Prov. 3:5). This will lead us to error every time.
Respect for the presence of God is a very important thing to remember as the bearers of His Holy Spirit. Since He is living with us, therefore always with us, we must be careful to guard our conversations, our actions, and our interactions whether it is in the home or in the community. Everything we say and do should reflect the nature and character of the One we profess lives inside of us. We cannot mishandle this Gift nor abuse the grace that comes with His presence. This does not mean we have to walk around on eggshells. But it does mean we need to remember to respect the Presence.