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?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. (2 Samuel 6:6-10 ESV)
The ark was a symbol of both God’s Presence, and His glory. Regulations for carrying the ark had been outlined in Ex. 25, 37, and in several other places in the Torah. In this case, almost every regulation was being broken. Uzzah and the other men were completely dishonoring this important symbol of God’s glory.
Both Uzzah and David make a mistake in their attitude towards the glory and presence of God. Uzzah has no fear of God, and David is downright afraid of God. God has freely invited men to come into His Presence – He has opened up the door for us to experience His glory, but we must come on His terms and on His conditions. Uzzah has no regard for God’s terms, and David is too terrified to come at all.
When we consider God, we must have a proper fear of Him. We must respect Him, without making Him impersonal. We must care about His rules, without becoming legalistic. Have you ever messed up and felt so guilty you were sure God was going to condemn you right then and there? Don’t be like David and forget God’ love! Do you ever feel like God loves and forgives you, so sinning isn;t a big deal? Don’t be like Uzzah and forget about God’s holiness! We must understand the seriousness of God’s holiness, without forgetting about His love.
We don’t need to live in paralyzing fear of God. But, we also need to be careful to respect and obey Him as the Almighty.