2 Samuel 6:9

The death of Uzzah made David "afraid of the Lord," and deterred him from fulfilling his purpose to bear the ark into the place which he had prepared for it in his newly founded metropolis. He seems for the time to have dreaded lest it should bring evil with it instead of good - a curse instead of a blessing. So the vast assembly was dispersed, and the day which was to have been so glorious and auspicious ended in disappointment and gloom. David's feeling is an illustration of religious terror, or the dread of God.


1. It is to be distinguished from that "fear of the Lord" which is so often inculcated in the Word of God, and which is especially characteristic of the piety of the Old Testament. This is reverence of God, of his nature, authority, and laws. It includes, indeed, a dread of offending him, because of the certainty and terribleness of punishment; but it includes also veneration, esteem, and love. The feeling which is described in the text is simply alarm, terror.

2. It may be awakened by various causes.

(1) Terrible acts of God: sudden deaths, as that of Uzzah, those of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5, 10, 11); violent tempests; earthquakes; deadly pestilence.

(2) Terrible aspects of his nature. Holiness and hatred of sin; justice, displeasure against sinners; together with his perfect knowledge and unbounded power.

(3) His threatenings.

(4) The consciousness of sin. This is the secret of the dread which springs from the thought of God. A solemn awe is compatible with innocence, but the holy would not be "afraid of God," or if for a moment, at some startling and threatening event, only for a moment.

II. ITS VALUE. In itself and standing alone, it is of no religious worth at all. It is compatible with enmity to God, which is the opposite of true religion. When it springs into the heart of a good man it may be associated with very wrong feeling. David was "displeased" with God, while "afraid" of him (ver. 8). It tends to drive them from him while seeming to draw them to him; for it is apt to generate a religion without love, without even reverence - an obedience which is slavish and destitute of true virtue. It is favourable to superstition, indeed, and may stimulate to great liberality; but, while acting alone, it cannot produce genuine godliness and true holiness. It is the feeling on which priestcraft in all lands flourishes. Yet it is good as a first step in those that need it, and a preparation for what is better; and some measure of it, blended with other emotions, is always of value to many, if not all. In Psalm 119., where every feeling of a pious soul finds expression, this is included (ver. 120). And our Lord enjoins it as a safeguard against the fear of man (Luke 12:4, 5). This fear is of great value:

1. To arouse the conscience and prepare for better things. Many are so hardened that they are incapable of being, in the first instance, drawn by love; their fears must be excited.

2. To make the gospel welcome; which, revealing the love of God and the redemption which is by Jesus Christ, is fitted and intended to allay the dread of God and awaken confidence and affection.

3. To stimulate in obedience to God and deter from sin. It is true that love is the noblest stimulus, and that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18); but love is not perfect in this world, and fear is needed when temptation is strong and the better feelings are for the time dormant. - G.W.

Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God.
Some would have us believe that this was an accident; that Uzzah, in the effort to save the ark, dislocated his shoulder, or broke his arm, and died of haemorrhage. We are told, however, that it was a Divine judgment. David so understood it, and "he was displeased." Now God intended by this terrible visitation to teach a lesson of great importance. It is one that needs to be uttered even at this day with emphasis, viz., the need that exists for the deepest reverence in all things connected with the Divine service, and the danger that arises from over-familiarity with sacred things.

1. Uzzah was a Levite, and he knew or ought to have known the commands of God with respect to the ark. In Numbers 4:15, it is written that those who had to bear the ark were "not to touch any holy thing, lest they die," Not only so, but the ark was to be covered, and so kept from the gaze of the irreverent. This had been neglected. Again, that which was to be borne only on men's shoulders was put on a cart. This was a gross piece of neglect.

2. Then it is probable that the offence of Uzzah was aggravated by the fact that he had not sufficient reverence for the Divine command. The ark had been for seventy years under the care of his father and family. Eleazar, who had been set apart to take care of it, was probably dead. It may be that neither Uzzah nor Ahio his brother had ever thought that it was important that they should be consecrated to the work. They, presuming on their Levitical descent, may have taken upon themselves informally the position of attendants. Constant familiarity with it may have led them to think of it with even somewhat of contempt. It was like a piece of useless furniture. They may have forgotten how interwoven that ark was with religious and national life. To them it may have seemed a sort of Nehushtan. Others regarded it with expectancy and reverence, but to them it was only so much wood and gold. And thus many regarded Christ's cross as so much wood, and His death as a martyrdom, forgetting that they are of infinite value as the sign and seal of the expiation of sin and salvation of the world. There was no virtue in the ark, any more than in the cross itself, apart from God's appointment. God's revealed will makes all the difference in respect to any act or observance. Doubtless Uzzah had touched the ark in an over-familiar way before, and it may have been passed over; now he does it publicly, and as evil would result from his example, judgment follows.(1) Some would say, "But how trifling the sin, compared with the severity of the punishment." Sin is never a trifle. Disobedience to God is not a trifle. Peter's few words of denial were easily spoken, but they were no trifle in their consequences. A few drops of prussic acid taken into the system are trifling, so far as size and substance are concerned, but not as to results. To touch the ark irreverently was no trifle; it indicated a state of heart not in accord with the office filled.(2) Besides, the attention of the people had to be arrested, and the need for reverence emphasized. Hence the sin was not passed by. Great benefit arose. As in the case of the men of Beth-shemesh, the exclamation was raised, "Who is able to stand before the Lord?" so here we find David saying, "How shall the ark of God come to me?" A deep impression of the need for purity on their part and of unswerving justice on God's part was made.

3. Uzzah sinned with his eyes open. He knew the commands. He sinned with the warning of Beth-shemesh before him. He sinned publicly, and has perished suddenly and miserably. It was a sudden and severe judgment, but that was a stern age, and the people could only be influenced by such means. David saw the reason for the visitation, and so when he summoned courage to move on instead of going up to Jerusalem he turned aside to Obed-edom the Gittite, one who was not only a Levite but probably a Kohathite, to whom it rightly pertained to bear the ark. It may be objected that the punishment was needlessly severe, in that Uzzah's intentions were good. This is very plausible; but good intentions do not always justify wrong-doing. Many have been led astray by this sophistry. We may not do evil that good may come. God will not have His laws broken under pretence of serving Him. We may not bend to a course of expediency under the pretext of glorifying God. Whatever is really wrong must not be permitted, and it was wrong for Uzzah to break the Divine command and thereby perhaps lead others to similar irreverence. Uzzah died by the side of the ark of God. How terrible! Yet what a warning for the ages! Being engaged in religious services or connected with sacred things cannot ensure salvation. We should, therefore, watch any tendency to levity or lightness in Divine worship, or in treatment of sacred subjects. To use Scripture to point a witticism or to regard the Divine book as an ordinary book is not a good sign. There should be no listlessness in worship or in listening to God's truth. Is not Such carelessness an indication of indifference to the presence of that Divine Spirit in which we believe? Can we be bold and heartless in the presence of the King of Heaven?

(F. Hastings.)

1. How many there are who, like Uzzah in our text, profane the ark of God by wilful disobedience to His laws; and, therefore, like him, have to suffer the certain consequences. Death seems a severe penalty for simply touching the ark, but we see just the same penalty inflicted for what seem very small .offences against the laws of health almost every day of our lives. Thus for instance there are two great and important laws relating to our bodily health, disobedience to which inevitably brings its proper penalty — one the law that if we would be healthy we must be clean, dean both in body and in dwelling; the other the law that the air we breathe must be pure and fresh. And remember that we can all of us obey these laws if we like — it is not money or the want of money that makes the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy home. There are plenty of houses where the husband earns nothing more than ordinary weekly wages, and yet the cottage and its furniture are clean — the windows are regularly and properly opened, and the air is sweet and pure, and why? Because, while the husband is doing his work outside, the wife is also doing her duty inside, but unfortunately there are some houses where this is not so, and then, God's laws being broken, as surely as the penalty came on Uzzah. so surely does it come on that household. Often it comes in the form of bad health, fever sometimes, or more often that constant languidness and feebleness which makes work a weariness and even life itself a burden.

2. There are laws of worship, the first of which is given us by our Saviour Himself. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. And the second law of worship, if not exactly given us by our Saviour, at any rate comes to us bearing the stamp of His approval. It is the law of a consistent worship, not a worship of the lips only while the heart is far off, but a worship in which heart and voice unite " to make one music." Is it so with us? If not, would it not be well to think of the lesson taught us by the fate of Uzzah? To come into God's house without reverence for the owner of the house; to come joining (or professing to join) with our lips in the confession of sin, while yet we feel no sorrow for sin; to come with the prayer for forgiveness on our lips, while yet we desire none in our hearts; to sing the psalms on the beauty of holiness, and hymns about the joys of heaven, when holiness is distasteful to us, and heaven a home where in heart and mind we never go; what is that but a profanation, and what other penalty can it bring than the penalty of spiritual death? For a cold, heartless, and indifferent service — what is it like but an unhealthy diseased life, a life without either energy or enthusiasm, a life which is really only a living death? What then shall we do?(1) Two things; first we must amend our lives, and learn to obey that command of St. Paul's, "I beseech you, brethren," and(2) we must remember the lesson contained in the fact that while no blood might be sprinkled on the ark, the figure of this world where law and order reign, yet on the mercy seat, the figure of heaven, where God in mercy is enthroned, the blood of the sacrifice was to be offered. And that sacrifice we must offer according as Christ has commanded.

(G. Bladon, B. A.)

What said the law? Numbers 3:29-32; Numbers 4:4-15; Numbers 7:6-9.

1. Man may forget, but not God. If God has made a thing clear at one time, we must not think (like Balaam) that He will change His mind about it.

2. Altered circumstances don't affect truth.

I. DEATH WAS UNDER THE LAW THE PUNISHMENT OR TRANSGRESSION. Executed in single cases. (Numbers 15:32-36; Joshua 7:15-25; 1 Kings 13:21-25.) The principle of such punishment is doubtless brought out in 1 Corinthians 11:30-32.

II. REVERENCE BECOMES FINITE BEINGS IN APPROACHING THE INFINITE, Love and zeal are not enough; there is danger of carelessness or lightness. We are to work out our salvation "with fear and trembling," to speak "with meekness and fear," to serve "with reverence and godly fear."

III. GOD DOES NOT NEED MAN'S HELP, THOUGH HE CONDESCENDS TO USE IT. We put our hand to the ark when we defend God's cause with carnal weapons.

(R. E. Faulkner.)

It should be remembered that many hands must have touched the ark that day in the process of lifting it on to the cart; that none of these helpers were smitten, and that therefore it was not the fact of touching, but the spirit in which he touched, that made Uzzah guilty. We shall probably be right if we ascribe to him rash irreverence, entire ignoring of the sanctity of the ark, a regarding of it as "an unholy (that is, a common) thing." He had no consciousness of the Divine presence in it. It had been a piece of furniture in Abinadab's house as long as he could remember, and though, no doubt, it had been guarded and set apart there "from common uses, he had become used to" its presence, and familiarity had worn off his awe. The same cause produces like effects in many of us in regard to holier things than an ark of shittim wood. And an irreverent hand thrust in among such sanctities, even with a design to help them, is sin. Nor must we forget that this incident stands at the beginning of a new epoch in the development of religion in Israel, and that, just as Ananias and Sapphira perished at the beginning of the Church's history, so- Uzzah lay dead beside the ark, a lesson and a warning for a new age.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Mr. Hervey thus illustrates the great truth of the different appearance of sin to the eye of God and the eye of man. He says that you may take a small insect, and with the tiniest needle make a puncture in it so minute that you can scarcely see it with the naked eye; but when you look at it through a microscope you see an enormous rent, out of which there flows a purple stream, making the creature seem to you as though it had been smitten with the axe that killeth an ox. It is but a defect of our vision that we cannot see things correctly; but the microscope reveals them as they really are. God's microscopic eye sees sin in its true aspects.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

"Why are you so precise," said one to a Puritan. "Sir," said he, "I serve a very precise God."

Abinadab, Ahio, David, Israelites, Michal, Obed, Obededom, Perez, Saul, Uzzah
Baale-judah, Geba, Jerusalem, Perez-uzzah
Afraid, Ark, David, David's, Fear, Feareth
1. David fetches the ark from Kirjath Jearim on a new cart,
6. Uzzah is smitten at Perez Uzzah
9. God blesses Obed-Edom for the ark
12. David brings the ark into Zion with sacrifices, and dances before it;
16. for which Michal despises him
17. He places it in a tabernacle with great joy and feasting
20. Michal, reproving David for his joy, is childless to her death

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 6:1-12

     7306   ark of the covenant

2 Samuel 6:1-15

     5089   David, significance

2 Samuel 6:1-19

     7241   Jerusalem, significance

2 Samuel 6:1-23

     7270   Zion, as a place

Emmaus. Kiriath-Jearim.
"From Beth-horon to Emmaus it was hilly."--It was sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem.--"To eight hundred only, dismissed the army, (Vespasian) gave a place, called Ammaus, for them to inhabit: it is sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem." I inquire, whether this word hath the same etymology with Emmaus near Tiberias, which, from the 'warm baths,' was called Chammath. The Jews certainly do write this otherwise... "The family (say they) of Beth-Pegarim, and Beth Zipperia was out of Emmaus."--The
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The King --Continued.
The years thus well begun are, in the historical books, characterized mainly by three events, namely, the bringing up of the ark to the newly won city of David, Nathan's prophecy of the perpetual dominion of his house, and his victories over the surrounding nations. These three hinges of the narrative are all abundantly illustrated in the psalms. As to the first, we have relics of the joyful ceremonial connected with it in two psalms, the fifteenth and twenty-fourth, which are singularly alike not
Alexander Maclaren—The Life of David

The Danger of Deviating from Divine Institutions.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." St. Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles. The care of the churches gathered among them devolved particularly on him. At the writing of this epistle he had no personal acquaintance with the church to which it is addressed.* Epaphras, a bishop of the Colossians, then his fellow prisoner at Rome, had made him acquainted with their state, and the danger
Andrew Lee et al—Sermons on Various Important Subjects

Excursus on the Present Teaching of the Latin and Greek Churches on the Subject.
To set forth the present teaching of the Latin Church upon the subject of images and the cultus which is due them, I cite the decree of the Council of Trent and a passage from the Catechism set forth by the authority of the same synod. (Conc. Trid., Sess. xxv. December 3d and 4th, 1563. [Buckley's Trans.]) The holy synod enjoins on all bishops, and others sustaining the office and charge of teaching that, according to the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church received from the primitive times
Philip Schaff—The Seven Ecumenical Councils

Letter xxiv (Circa A. D. 1126) to Oger, Regular Canon
To Oger, Regular Canon [34] Bernard blames him for his resignation of his pastoral charge, although made from the love of a calm and pious life. None the less, he instructs him how, after becoming a private person, he ought to live in community. To Brother Oger, the Canon, Brother Bernard, monk but sinner, wishes that he may walk worthily of God even to the end, and embraces him with the fullest affection. 1. If I seem to have been too slow in replying to your letter, ascribe it to my not having
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Reprobation Asserted: Or, the Doctrine of Eternal Election and Reprobation Promiscuously Handled, in Eleven Chapters.
WHEREIN THE MOST MATERIAL OBJECTIONS MADE BY THE OPPOSERS OF THIS DOCTRINE, ARE FULLY ANSWERED; SEVERAL DOUBTS REMOVED, AND SUNDRY CASES OF CONSCIENCE RESOLVED. BY JOHN BUNYAN OF BEDFORD, A LOVER OF PEACE AND TRUTH. 'What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.'--Romans 11:7 London: Printed for G. L., and are to be sold in Turn-stile-alley, in Holbourn. Small 4to, 44 pages. EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. This valuable tract
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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