When they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, because the oxen nearly upset it. 10 The anger of the Lord burned against Uzza, so He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. 11 Then David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzza; and he called that place Perez-uzza to this day, (13:9-11).
This word, describing the LORD’s anger as an outburst, was troubling to me. It conjured up thoughts of toddlers when they don’t get their way; and as the “SoSo” (grandmother) of three-year-old twins, this doesn’t take much imagination. Outbursts also remind me of those irrational bosses who have no check on their reactions.
Neither of these images, the toddler pitching a tantrum or the boss in a rage, fit the character of the God we know Who is disclosed in the Scriptures. I looked at other translations of this verse. Other versions translate outburst as: “broken out; burst out; burst forth; outbreak; made a breach; had killed; had attacked; had struck violently.” And still these translations invoked thoughts of one who is out of control.
And while I was gratefully reminded of how often I have seen Him revealed in His Word as the longsuffering, patient and totally in-control God; I still wanted to understand what exactly had happened here.
From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
Outburst “6555. פָּרַץ pāraṣ: A verb meaning to break out, to break down, to burst forth. It indicates the powerful multiplication and spreading of something in all directions.”
This Outburst is described as an act that is capable of powerfully multiplying and spreading in all directions. Images of dynamite explosions or volcanic eruptions filled my thoughts. But His Outburst was not unpredictable in its reach or uncontrollably dispersed. It was targeted and measured specifically, at one who had disobeyed His Word. And His Outburst would culminate exactly as He had Ordained.
Consider His Ordained Outburst
Ordain: “to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law; to order or decree (something) officially (especially of God); prescribe; determine.”
His Word had Ordained the handling of the ark. The Lord was adamant; the ark was to be carried by the Levites, and only by the poles placed in the rings on the side of the ark. In this way, the handlers would be protected from touching the holy objects, and in this way their lives would be safe.
You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it, (Exodus 25:12-15 emphasis added).
“Take a census of the descendants of Kohath from among the sons of Levi… 4 This is the work of the descendants of Kohath in the tent of meeting, concerning the most holy things… 15 When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and die,” (Numbers 4:2, 4, 15 emphasis added).
So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord… (Deuteronomy 31:9 emphasis added).
Because He is Righteous He will always keep His Word. His Ordained Outburst will perfectly fulfill His Ordained ordinance.
The book of 2 Samuel sheds additional light on His Ordained Outburst:
But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. 7 And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God, (2 Samuel 6:6-7).
His Ordained Outburst was in response to Uzzah’s irreverence.
From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: Irreverence “7944. שַׁל šal: A masculine noun meaning a sin, an error. It comes from the verb šālāh (7952), meaning to sin. This noun is used only once in the Old Testament in 2 Samuel 6:7, but from this usage, we can gain the insight that the error described by this word is a great one. The context is that of Uzzah, whom God struck down because he touched the ark: this error cost him his life. This word has strong connotations of a great sin or error deserving of death.”
Because He is Just, He will judge the sin worthy of death. His Ordained Outburst will always adhere to His Ordained ordinance and by no means leave the guilty unpunished.
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, (Nahum 1:3).
How do we respond to His Ordained Outburst?
David became angry because of His Outburst. Perhaps David was angry because he believed he was doing a good thing in bringing back the ark.
David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is from the Lord our God, let us send everywhere to our kinsmen who remain in all the land of Israel, also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasture lands, that they may meet with us; 3 and let us bring back the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul,” (13:2-3).
Perhaps because Saul, who had been removed as the nation’s king, did not bring back the ark, and perhaps because David had the support of his kinsmen in going after the ark, he took these as signs of God’s approval. But I can’t help but wonder why David did not seek the Lord first, for the Lord had clearly Ordained His parameters for handling the ark.
And perhaps Uzzah thought he was doing a good thing in trying to keep the ark upright; but he was in direct violation of the Lord’s commands. The ark was not to be carried in a cart, even if it was a new cart.
Our man-made views of how we handle worship are never acceptable to God.
Let us seek Him in His Word, that we would invite His Presence as He has Ordained, in Spirit and in Truth through faith in Jesus.
But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth,” (John 4:23-24).
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14:6).
And let us live mindful of what He has Ordained in His Word. We must seek opportunities to share His Truth. The truth is, He will punish the guilty; and the guilty need to know. His Ordained Outburst will judge everyone who rejects the salvation offered through Jesus Christ alone.
“If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me,” (John 12:47-50).
Oh that we would so grow in our faith to boldly share Truth with others, that they too might be spared His Ordained Outburst and granted His gift of eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23).