So they set 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, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. And 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 6:3-7
One of the first official acts of David as king over all of Israel was to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem so that Israel might experience the glory of God. The word glory in the Hebrew is Kabowd (Chabod) and it quite literally means weight; or that which has significant substance. Obviously the glory of God is of the utmost weight and substance and one might say, “God is the heaviest man!”
The reality is that everyone desires it; every human being yearns for a connection of magnificent relevance whether they realize it or not. God in fact placed that desire in our hearts hoping that we would choose to fill the emptiness with Him. Sadly, some opt to fill that space with drugs or alcohol, sex, material possessions, or wealth.
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus” Blaise Pascal
The Bible records for us the first-ever attempt to fill the vacuum. The funny thing is that Adam and Eve had the Kabowd; God’s glory was all around them. That is until in disobedience they ate of the forbidden tree. They made a horrible choice and then went about the task of filling the void in their flesh, demonstrating quite effectively that itchy leaves are a poor replacement for God’s glory.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. Genesis 3:7
Back to the Story
David wants to bring the Kabowd of God to Israel; up until this time the Ark of the Covenant sat 13 miles away in Kirjath Jearim. We would recall that it wound up there after Israel brought the Ark into battle as a ‘good luck charm’ and ended up losing it to the Philistines, who ended up getting rid of it because of the plagues it brought. The trouble was that David’s plan to recover the Ark was a work of his flesh and although Uzzah’s death is directly related to David’s blunder, it is Uzzah who becomes our example. You might say that Uzzah’s death was his ministry.
What Did David Learn?
David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”
Isn’t David’s question the very same question we ask, “How can God’s glory come to me?”
David learned that serving God, knowing Him better, and experiencing His presence is not a work of the flesh. David made huge plans and designed a grand thirty-thousand man parade, but it in the end discerned that the work is God’s and submission to His will is ours. Like David, we should take note (in 2 Samuel 6:11), that “the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household,” for doing nothing but merely being in His presence.
So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22
In the three month period Obed-Edom had the Ark, David did his homework. The prescribed manner to move the Ark was six paces at a time. Every six steps the procession would stop, an altar would be erected, and animals would be sacrificed. The ritual would continue until the Ark reached its resting place, regardless if was ten feet or ten miles. We might ask why and God might answer, “Because the world is into efficiency while My thing is effectiveness.
But Why Every Six Steps?
To me it speaks to my continual need to be reminded of Christ’s presence in my life. The fact is I can finish praying or reading His word, get up and take six steps and forget all about Him. This passage reminds me of that deficiency in faith walk. It also reminds me in simplicity to draw near to God and He will draw near to me (James 4:8), to acquaint myself with Him, to be at peace and good will come to me (Job 22:21), to deny myself and take up my cross daily (Luke 9:23), and finally, as often as I eat the bread and drink of the cup, to proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).
There are days when I need to stop every few steps and reflect on who my God is, what He has done, and what He continues to do for me and the world (those who love Him and those who do not even know His name). The truth of the matter is that today is one of those days. God is Master and I am but a tool in His toolbox whose only real function is to dutifully avail myself to Him.