In I Chronicles 13:9, we read, "Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him... and there he died before God." WHY did God kill a man for the simple act of trying to steady the ark — when it was about to fall over? On the surface, it would appear to be a very innocent act.
God had instructed those responsible for carrying the ark — that they should CARRY IT ON THEIR SHOULDERS! Notice, Numbers 7:1-9, "Unto the sons of Kohath he gave none [oxen and carts): because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear it ON THEIR SHOULDERS!" This was the first disobedient act. Notice! David had consulted with the people and had done the thing which "was right in the eyes of all the people" (I Chron. 13:1-4). He did not consult God's law on this matter — which was clear and explicit. Instead of having the Levites carry the ark, David had the ark put in a CART! "And they carried the ark [made the ark to ride, margin) in a new cart ... and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart" (I Chron. 13:7). SECONDLY, the descendants of the family of Kohath (son of Levi) were to have the responsibility of transporting the ark on their shoulders. Read Numbers 4:15. "And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary... the SONS OF KOHATH shall come to bear it." This was the second act of disobedience. From the parallel account in II Samuel 6, it is quite clear that Abinadab's sons — Uzza and Ahio — were of the TRIBE OF JUDAH. They were NOT AUTHORIZED BY GOD to transport the ark. This was another breach of a very explicit command. The responsibility of carrying the most holy articles — which included the ark — was the SOLE RESPONSIBILITY of the sons of Kohath. See Numbers 4! THIRDLY, no person — besides Aaron and his sons — were to touch the ark, or any of the holy things. The penalty for disobedience was CLEARLY STATED in Numbers 4.15. "And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the SONS OF KOHATH shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, LEST THEY DIE!!" But Uzza disobeyed this clear command. "And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to HOLD THE ARK; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, BECAUSE HE PUT HIS HAND to the ark: and there he died before God" (I Chron. 13:9-10). This was the CLIMAX to a series of disobedient acts. An attitude was beginning — which if not halted — would haw quickly led to a complete casting aside of other laws. In I Chronicles 15, we receive more of the background. It becomes quite clear why God had to forcibly intervene. Beginning with Verse 2 in Chapter 15, we read: "Then David said, NONE ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the Lord chosen TO CARRY the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever!" As we have seen the ark was to be curried — not hauled by a cart. Also, the Levites were to attend to this business — not individuals of other tribes. Now continue reading in Verse 11: "And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites ... And said unto them... sanctify yourselves... that ye may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel... "For because ye DID IT NOT AT THE FIRST, the Lord our God made a breach [by killing Uzza) upon us, for that we sought him not after the DUE ORDER!" There had been rank disobedience. The ark was not transported according to "dice order" — or according to the laws set down in the book of Numbers. God made it quite clear to the Levites, the people and to David that He would not tolerate disobedience. God knew what the end of those things would have been. He stamped out disobedience before it spread. God said in I Corinthians 10:11 that, "All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come." This example should teach us to live our life in accordance with the laws of God. It should teach us that God back up His laws with force and power! He MEANS what He says — and SAYS WHAT HE MEANS!