Why did God kill Uzzah when he touched the Ark?

The ark was for some time at Abinadab’s house in Gaale of Judah (2 Samuel 6:3). But King David wanted to bring it to Jerusalem. So, he went there with thirty thousand men of Israel to bring the Ark with joy and signing to his place. And they set the ark of God on a new cart and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart (v. 3).

Uzzah touched the Ark

And it happened that “when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the Ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled.  Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:6,7 also 1 Chronicles 13:9-12).

It seems that while the Ark was at Abinadab’s house, his son Uzzah got accustomed to the Ark and his familiarity made him irreverent to God’s explicit commands. This command stated that only the priests, descendants of Aaron, were permitted to touch it (Num. 4:15).

God’s instructions

The Lord clearly instructed, “After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, the Kohathites are to come to do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the Tent of Meeting” (Numbers 4:15). The Ark was to be carried only upon the Levites shoulders and those of the family of Kohath using poles (Exodus 25:12-14; Numbers 7:9).

God’s holiness

God is a holy God (1 Peter 1:16). An it is apparent that Uzzah’s heart was not fully surrendered to the Lord. His intentions were not holy so when he tried to steady the ark by his hand he was slain. His act of touching the ark was one of presumption. A sinful person should not have dared to touch the presence of God. And although the Bible mentions that the oxen stumbled, the Ark itself didn’t fall. The Lord was responsible for the protection of His Ark. God didn’t need Uzzah’s help (Psalm 46:1).

If Uzzah’s sin had been allowed to go unpunished, his example might have caused many others to sin as well. Uzzah’s death was a clear  warning to others that God is a righteous God, who demands strict obedience (1 Samuel 15:22; John 14:15). The unexpected disaster caused the people of Israel to realize the importance of God’s express commands and the awfulness of the sin of disrespect (Psalm 111:10).

The Philistines earlier touched the ark when they took it to their land without being killed by God.   They did not know God’s instructions regarding handling it. And the Lord punished them for keeping it (1 Samuel 5-6). But the Israelites were well informed about God’s instructions. Nevertheless, one disobeyed it. God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of His children, yet He is fair in His dealings with all (Psalm 25:8).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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