Enthusiasm to worship God should be accompanied by reverence of God.
The ark of the covenant was the symbol of God’s presence in the Old Testament times. It was also Israels treasure and kept in the tabernacle. It was kept for 20 years in Abinadab’s home after it was retrieved from the Philistines, who captured it for a brief time (1 Samuel 4).
David in his zeal wanted to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). Two hand-picked men had to accompany the ark. David put the ark on an oxen cart. The oxen stumbled and the treasure wanted to shift over the edge and could have fallen to pieces, but Uzzah (one of the two guys) stretched out his hand to keep the ark from falling. God struck him dead from heaven!!
Many times we see things happen, which seem unfair and we get angry with God. David did as well (2 Samuel 6:8). How could God kill a man who really did a good thing? It is so unfair!! This attitude is in so many people who turned from God.
Certainly it was a noble desire on David’s part to bring the ark to Jerusalem, but it is possible to have “zeal without knowledge” and do a good work in a wrong way. To begin with, David did not consult the Lord; he consulted his political leaders (1 Chron. 13:1–4; note 2 Sam. 5:19 and 23). It appears that his main motive was to unify the nation under his rule rather than to glorify the Lord. All the leaders and the congregation agreed to David’s plan, but this did not make the subsequent actions right.
David’s next mistake was to ignore God’s Word. Instead of asking the Levites to bear the ark on their shoulders (Num. 3:27–31; 4:15; 7:9; 10:21), he followed the worldly example of the Philistines and put the ark on a new cart (1 Sam. 6). God would permit the Philistines to use this method, since they were not His covenant people, instructed in the Word. But for the Jews to ignore the divine commands and imitate the heathen nations, was to invite disaster. How many Christians and local churches today “conform to the world” (Rom. 12:2) instead of “following the pattern” given by God from heaven? (Ex. 25:40) All of the people were enthusiastic and joyful, but this did not make their method right in the eyes of God. Israel wanted to be “like the other nations” (1 Sam. 8:5), and it led to tragedy.
Naturally, the human method of doing God’s work eventually fails: the oxen stumbled and the ark was in danger of falling! This led to the third mistake: a man who was not a Levite touched the ark (see Num. 4:15). God had to judge him immediately or else sacrifice His glory and permit His Word to be violated. David’s reaction to this sudden judgment reveals that his heart was not completely right with God in the matter; for, first he was angry, then he was fearful. Instead of pausing and seeking God’s will to discover the reason for the judgment, David stopped the procession and quickly disposed of the ark.
One mistake led to another! How important it is to determine God’s will and then follow God’s way in accomplishing that will.
When we know the Word of God and make compromises, with a holy God, it will have consequences. To be angry with God when we compromised is a mistake on our side. God is a holy God, we have to worship Him His way not our “way.”