If you have time, read 1 Chronicles 13.
It’s one of those painful stories in the Bible when God seems harsh. A man died because he touched the ark of God while moving it back to Jerusalem.
His name was Uzzah.
He was David’s friend, and when he died, David got mad at God.
The Bible says that David became afraid of God.
This encourages me. David, “the man after God’s own heart” experienced the same emotions I did when I lost someone I loved.
Fear of God.
I remember not being able to pray or listen to worship music. God seemed aloof, unattainable, and friendship with Him no longer appeared true. It was the worst and most uncomfortable three months of my life.
After his friend Uzzah died, David stopped trying to move the ark of the God back to Jerusalem. He dropped it off at someone else’s house. “The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had” (1 Chron. 13:14).
Just like me.
But during those three months, despite David’s grief and confusion, God never left him. The ark of God, also known as the Ark of the Covenant, represented God’s presence. But David did not bring the symbol of God’s presence back with him.
Despite this hiccup in their relationship, God’s plans prevailed. The Bible tells us, “And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of the people of Israel” (1 Chron. 14:2).
So David began to make Jerusalem his home. He built a house and grew a family. And fought more battles for God even though the ark of God, the symbol of His presence wasn’t with David.
This is the good part–the part that stirs my heart. Despite David’s anger at God when Uzzah died, and his fear of God, it wasn’t long before God and David were fighting battles together again. In chapter 14 the Philistines raided the valley; so David asked God for advice.
God instructed him, “Do not go straight up, but circle around them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move into battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.”
And that’s what happened.
After that victory, David went home and prepared a place for the ark of God. He then told his men that they would bring the ark back, but they would do it as God instructed Moses.
The ark was brought home with much celebration and joy. David danced. And in the next chapter we read his psalm of thanks and praise to God.
David sang, “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always” (1Chron. 16:11).
Notice the word “LORD” is all capitals. It’s written like this because it’s translated from the word “YHWH” which is the holiest name for God. It’s His covenant name. A name so ancient and reverenced, the Jews did not pronounce it.
With great wisdom David proclaims to look toward YWHW and His strength. David sought God’s advice and power in the battle against the Philistines.
“Seek his face always.”
The word “face” comes from a Hebrew word that can mean “presence”. Perhaps it is easier for us to think of seeking His presence rather than his face.
And then David says to seek God’s presence “always” or tamiyd. This Hebrew word means: continually, perpetually, daily (both morning and evening), always, at all times, without interruption, regularly. (Key Word)
Did David learn a great lesson about God when Uzzah died? Yes. He learned two important things that will benefit us too.
1. God is Holy, and we must ask Him how He wants us to do His work everyday.
2. God will never leave us or forsake us, even when we’ve messed up or try to distance ourselves from Him.
Has there been a time in your life when you were mad at God? How long was it before you realized He was still with you?
Maybe you’re hurting and angry with God now, if so, please know you aren’t alone. Many of us have experienced such pain and grief . . . even the man after God’s own heart. May I pray for you?
“YHWH thank you for being the covenant God who promises to never leave us or forsake us even when we are angry with you and feel distant from your presence. Thank you that you desire to partner with us on this earth to fight our battles. Help us take time to seek your presence daily and always ask for your wisdom, your plan. Lord, I pray for those who are grieving today. I pray this word gives them hope and one day soon they will dance. In Jesus, amen.”
With His purpose,