2 Samuel 6:6-8 – 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. 8 And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day.
Sometimes we fully understand the laws of God. Sometimes we do not. Some spend a great deal of time looking through Leviticus to offer explanations and rationales for the regulations. Why the food laws? Why the thing about boiling the young goat in its mother’s milk? Why not wear a garment of two fabrics?
In many a discussion of this sort, I have often responded with a reminder that God has every right to make a regulation for Israel, and for us, without explaining to us his rationale. We do not need explanation to obey our Heavenly Father any more than does a toddler need to know why mom and dad have made rules about not running out in the street. There well may be a solid reason that the toddler can understand. There may not be. But either way, the rule is good and, and the toddler should obey.
At the same time, I think it can be nice, from time-to-time, for us to see that God’s laws are not only right because he gave them. God’s laws are good because they are always good. God has never given a regulation that is unrighteous. The Holy One could not do that, as to do so would be to go against his very nature.
This all comes to mind as I watch the account of the death of Uzzah. This is a familiar passage for many a believer. Uzzah touched the ark of the covenant. The wrath of God burned against him for his presumption, and Uzzah died. And there we learn something of the deadly nature of holiness. The unholy dare not touch the holy.
We can draw from this account a gospel picture. If we were thrust into the holy presence of the Lord without the Lord doing something to shield us, to cover and take away our sin, we would be consumed. Like Uzzah, we are not nearly holy enough on our own to touch the holy. We would die. Thanks be to God that Jesus, the Son of God, took on flesh to pay for our sins and to impute to us his righteousness!
And, when it comes to understanding the law of God, this passage offers us a reminder that I find important in this time reading it through. Touching the ark will kill a sinful man. This is apparently why God gave meticulous instructions as to how the ark should be carried. It was to be wrapped up and not exposed. Levites who knew what they were doing were to carry the ark on their shoulders and walk it to its destination using the poles God commanded made for this purpose. And, had the people of God followed God’s instruction for carrying the ark, Uzzah would never have been in a position to come close to touching the ark or to have felt the need to do so.
What do I see here? God had a law. God’s law was good. God’s law had a purpose. And even if Uzzah or David did not understand the purpose behind the command of God, Uzzah and David should have obeyed. Taking the command of god lightly got Uzzah killed.
I’m grateful to God that Christ has come to fulfill the law of God on our behalf. I’m glad not to be under the Old Covenant codes. I’m glad not to be part of a legalistic religion. But I think there is great wisdom in realizing that God has good commands, even ones he does not explain to us all the way. It is good for us to trust the Lord and keep his commands for his glory and our good.