Photo by NATHAN MULLET
And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error and he died there beside the ark of God. 2 Samuel 6:6-7
The story of Uzzah is one that baffles many. We are baffled because we want to worship God with our own standards rather than find out how He desires to be worshipped. We feel sorry for Uzzah( myself included), when God wants his story to be a lesson to us.
When David became king he set his mind to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. David wanted the presence of God(the ark symbolized God’s presence) near him, so he made arrangements to bring the ark of God to the city. But when doing so, Uzzah, one of the men who were stewarding the cart, touched the ark to try to stabilize it and he was struck dead.
Handling God’s presence
Even though David and the people wanted the presence of God near them, they hadn’t calculated the cost of having God near them. God is holy and anyone who comes near Him must comprehend this. We cannot mishandle His presence, we will die. We cannot feign ignorance when it comes to how God expects us to live. We have to gain knowledge concerning what we are required to do to become a habitation holy for Him.
We ask God for His presence yet continue to live any way we want. God in His mercy refuses to answer our prayer because He knows we aren’t ready for what we are asking for. We cry out for His glory, not knowing there is a price to be paid for God’s glory in our lives.
The prayer of, “God I want more of you” should always be followed by “God help me live holy (it’s only by grace) so I can have more of you.”
Worldly standards of worship
Even though David went for the ark of God, he never asked how the ark should be transported. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out o the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God and Ahio went before the ark. 2 Samuel 6:3-4
They carried the ark of God on a cart… This sounds vaguely familiar. They placed the ark of the LORD on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. 1 Samuel 6:11 This was what the Philistines did when they took the ark of the covenant when the Israelites abandoned it in battle. The ark of God brought so much trouble to the Philistines that they decided to send it back to Israel. God proved that He was capable of defending Himself and His presence. (See 1 Samuel 5-6)
The Philistines put the Ark of the Covenant on a cart, (this was a heathen’s best attempt to worship God). And it was acceptable to God because they didn’t have the law. David and the people decided to copy the heathens in their worship of God, hence putting the ark on a cart. When they did God would have none of it.
God had a standard of how His presence was to be handled. And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. Numbers 4:15
First, only the sons of Kohath had the jurisdiction of handling the ark, no one else. And even they could not touch it or they would die. David allowing the sons of Abinadab (who were priests) but not of the Kohath family was a mistake. Second, they choose to put the Ark of the Covenant on a cart rather than carrying it with the specified poles on the Levite’s shoulders. Already this agenda was in so much error someone was bound to die.
We often want to worship God with worldly standards rather than find out how He desired to be worshipped. Our lack of results in our pursuit of God is often based on approaching God with a standard that isn’t His.
And we will keep hitting stumbling blocks until we ask God for His standard in worship rather than bringing Him worship steeped in worldly standards.
Reverential fear in worship
And David was angry because the ORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-Uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the ORD that day, and he said, “ How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David. And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household. 2 Samuel 6:8-11
First David was angry, but then his anger quickly turned into fear- reverential fear. We can never worship God correctly without reverential fear. Reverential fear says, He is God and I’m not. He is great and greatly to be praised. I don’t make my own standards, I submit to His standards.
David understood that it was going to take more than a desire to have God’s presence in the city. It required understanding how God wanted to be worshipped. And for three months he set the Ark business aside. We are not told what David did in these three months, but I bet he did some research and consulting. He prayed and asked God for help. He consulted the Levites on how best to carry the ark of God.
I have often felt grieved looking at the familiarity and contempt that has crept into the church where worship is concerned. Maybe it’s because we live under the Covenant of grace. We no longer drop dead when we dishonor God’s presence as they did in the Old Testament. However, this doesn’t mean the standard has changed. God still requires the same standard of worship as He did in the Old Testament.
We cannot worship God with familiarity; we have to bring Him a heart full of reverence if we are going to worship Him correctly. David understood this.
We can learn so much about worship from David. David doesn’t settle for what has always been done. He doesn’t say, “Well I tried to bring the ark and failed, maybe I should let it stay where it is.”He was unrelenting in worshipping God in a different way, and willing to pay the price for it.
He didn’t stay angry, he humbled himself and said, “ I erred and I want His presence so much that I’m willing to do whatever it takes.” This time he asked the Levites to carry the ark. Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule. So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel.” 1 Chronicles 15:13-14
David quickly repented of handling God’s holiness with familiarity.
He also went above and beyond. And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. 2 Samuel 6:13 He wasn’t taking any chances of having another person die handling the ark.
We can see David’s desire to have God’s presence in his life. He was willing to do whatever it took. He didn’t do the bare minimum. He learnt the standard. And when he did, he was able to host God’s presence in the city; allowing a generation to worship God in a different way than it had been done before.
When we have an unrelenting pursuit of His presence we will be willing to learn the standard of worship. We will also want to go above and beyond. We won’t worship God the way it has always been done. We won’t settle for familiarity, we will do whatever it takes to be worshippers after God’s heart. We will also become people who bring His standard for worship to those around us.
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4 thoughts on “God’s Standard For Worship”
Whoa!! Powerful. It becomes concerning as we realize that many traditions followed in our churches and individual believers’ lives are based on pagan rituals and demonic worship practices and have little to no foundational support in scripture. May our Father continue to open our eyes so that we may see the things we do that are pleasing to Him and those things that are not. Thank you for sharing this timely and needed word.
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Amen! M.Renee may He indeed open our eyes to see Him rightly. Always a pleasure! Be mightly blessed!
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Lucy, I have always found it difficult to read this part when Uzzah was struck dead by God. But I remember reflecting on his holiness that should never be trifled with. You have explained it beautifully. God is to be worshipped not according to our standards but what is worthy of. May we seek to have that reverence and respect for him.
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Manu true, I feel like God wanted to magnify His holiness in this story.
Sometimes when a passage is difficult for me to comprehend I often ask the Holy spirit to help me see it correctly. I sit with it, until He guides me into the truth He wants me to know in that passage. He is faithful to guide us into truth.
Amen! May we respond like David even in things too difficult to understand. Blessings ❤️
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