David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 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. 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, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.
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. 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. 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. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” II Samuel 6:1-9 ESV
You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. Exodus 25:13-15 ESV
But appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its furnishings, and over all that belongs to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings, and they shall take care of it and shall camp around the tabernacle. When the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down, and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up. And if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death. Numbers 1:50-51 ESV
“Don’t touch!” That’s what moms and dads have to tell their babies as they start to grow up and crawl around and explore the world. There are things that can hurt them, like hot stoves and pots and electrical cords and knives and scissors. Moms and dads try to keep dangerous things out of their baby’s reach, but they also have to teach them not to touch things that can hurt them. If they don’t, babies might touch something that makes them get seriously hurt, or even die.
God had taught his people that they shouldn’t touch holy things, and the most holy thing the people of Israel had was the ark of the covenant. No one was allowed to touch it. Only the Levites were supposed to carry it by poles that were attached to it. It was important for the people to obey God’s instructions, because they needed to learn to respect God’s holiness. David was careless when he tried to move the ark into Jerusalem. He didn’t do things God’s way, but instead he did things his own way. He put the ark on a cart, and when the oxen pulling the cart stumbled, one of the cart’s drivers grabbed hold of the ark. God killed him for doing that. That might seem very harsh, but God needed to remind his people that he is holy and that people can only approach him the way he says, and not in their own way.
We also need to respect God’s holiness. We are sinful people, and if we try to come to God in our own way, it means death. There is only one way to come to God, and that’s the way he’s provided for us. We can only come to God through Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins, and only by having our sins forgiven can we come to our holy God. But what a blessing that our holy God accepts sinful people like us for Jesus’ sake! Because of Jesus, coming to God doesn’t mean punishment and death, but instead love and life that lasts forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Jesus, our Savior, so that we can come to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.