The Story of Uzzah: Not Unfairness but Disobedience

Have you ever read a story in the Bible and felt like God acted ‘unfairly’? I have.  One such story is that of Uzzah recorded 1 Chronicles 13:1-14.

David together with the leaders of Israel decided to bring back to Jerusalem the Ark of the Covenant which represented the presence of God among Israelites.  For some time the ark had been kept by Abinadab outside of Jerusalem.

David with leaders of Israel carried the ark in a cart which was being driven by Uzzah.  On the way to Jerusalem, the oxen pulling the cart stumbled and the ark was about to fall. Uzzah stretched out his hand to protect it from hitting the ground. Immediately he touched the ark, God struck Uzzah dead.

Was this fair? I thought Uzzah was doing a very good job of protecting the ark? Why did God struck him dead? The answer: according to God’s instructions regarding the ark, Uzzah was not supposed to touch it. Besides, the ark was not supposed to be transferred on a cart but on shoulders of priests called Kohathites (Numbers 4:1-20). So, to put it simply: God acted justly not unfairly.

What we learn from the story is that we should take God’s Word seriously and always act accordingly. God is never pleased when we ignore His word and do things in our own way. No matter the reason or the motive, we can never justify disobedience to God’s Word with anything.

Uzzah was not supposed to touch the ark. He was not supposed to carry the ark. He disobeyed these instructions from God and no matter how hard he could justify his actions the truth of the matter was that Uzzah disobeyed God’s Word.

Similarly for us today, we have no reason to disobey God’s Word and justify our disbedience with phrases like “God is love” or “God is merciful” or “God is full of grace” or “things have changed” or “that was Paul” Never! Never! We either obey God’s Word or disobey it. No middle ground.

Yet unlike the case of Uzzah, we still have a chance of repenting if we realize that we have been living in disobedience to God’s Word. Scripture reminds us: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not us. If we confess our sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:8, 9).

May His grace enable us to walk in obedience to His Word always.