One, two, three, four, five, six, sacrifice. When you read this sentence what comes to mind? Over the weekend we studied 2 Samuel 6. It’s a shocking story of the fetching of the ark. David is on a quest to restore the ark to its rightful place – Jerusalem. On the way he runs into some trouble. Uzzah, one of the leaders touches the ark and he is killed – by God.
When our community read this, we were filled with shock. And apparently David felt the same way. After God interrupted David’s good intentions he responded in anger that quickly turned into fear. Who wants to have a wild, untamed God like this in the house? Not David. He cautiously decides to leave this out-of-the-box, unpredictable God with another person – Obed-Edom.
Why did God strike Uzzah? Here are a few suggestions. In the first place he became familiar with God and as we know familiarity breads the illusion that we know something or someone and renders us un-teachable. Yet it is impossible to fathom God, and he does not like it when we place him in a box. The second reason touches the almost unspoken nerve of our culture – disobedience. The ark was supposed to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites and was not to be touched, under any circumstances. David and Uzzah placed God on a cart. They were disobedient in choosing the way of efficiency above the slow way of obedience and Uzzah touched the ark a radical act of disobedience. The third reason touches awe and reverence. David and his friends lost their fear of God, for them the ark became a sort of lucky charm – something that their forefathers also erred in cf. 1Samuel 6. The fourth reason is the fact that someone walked in front of the ark instead of following – they were so presumptuous to think that they could lead God.
Thankfully there is a good ending to this story! After David’s anger towards God, “Hey, I’m trying to do something good!” he takes three months to ponder. Jesus would call it counting the cost cf. Luke 14. In this time a rumor reaches his ears that Obed-Edom and his family has really been blessed by God – apparently the cost of having this wild God in our lives – though disruptive, actually turns out to be a great blessing. Do you remember the parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price?
David realizes that he was disobedient and with attention to the smallest details found in Scripture he embarks on what I call the ark remixed cf. 1 Chronicles 15. He chooses the right people to carry the ark – discarding or maybe discarting the previous mode of transportation. In addition he embarks on a procession that is the exact opposite of efficiency. Every six feet the procession stopped – and offered a sacrifice! A long obedience in the same direction, to borrow a phrase from Nietzsche.
David moved from a position of over-familiarity, disobedience, efficiency, anger and fear into a long slow process of joy-filled sacrifice and dancing! Tonight I realized that the 1-2-3-4-5-6-STOP rhythm is the creation and Sabbath rhythm – a regular attention to God and sacrifice.
I want to reject all the “efficient” ways that put God on a cart.
That forces Him into ‘one-minute Bible studies for businessmen.”
I want to regain reverence and fear for the Lion of Judah.
I want to smash the box in which I place God.
I want to count the cost.
Find Him more than enough.
Dance, and sacrifice a slow joy-filled obedience dripping with God.
I need grace to do this!