Picture this…a father and son are having a great time playing ball in the front yard. Then, the ball rolls past the boy and into the street. Without thinking, the boy runs into the street after the ball. Suddenly the mood changes. The father sternly raises his voice and commands the boy to stop. Then, the father disciplines the boy for going into the street; something he had repeatedly been told not to. The game is suddenly over and the boy doesn’t feel like playing ball anymore.
Though overly simplified, this is what happens in 1 Chronicles chapter 13. David and the people want the presence of God to be in the center of their nation, so they decide to move the Ark of the Covenant to the capital city of Jerusalem.
There’s great rejoicing until the oxen pulling the cart carrying the Ark stumbles and the Ark begins to topple. Without thinking, Uzzah put his hand on the Ark to steady it. Suddenly, the atmosphere changes. God becomes angry with Uzzah and strikes him dead. Then David – hurt and angry with God’s reaction – decides not to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. The game’s over.
David and the people had good intentions in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. Uzzah had good intentions in trying to keep the Ark from falling over. So why was God so harsh?
God had given clear instructions on how the Ark was to be moved. It was only to be carried by priests, using golden poles placed through the rings on the Ark. And not even the priests were to touch the Ark with their hands.
But, despite clear instructions, they were carrying the Ark on a cart pulled by oxen. And Uzzah had touched that which God had commanded them not to touch.
When we rest on good intentions more than obedience, we take God for granted and make ourselves the authority. When we rely more on our good intentions than our obedience, we will be sorely disappointed in the outcome.
Remember…good intentions do not make up for disobedience!