Sunday, March 27, 2011


Sometimes God’s Word contains painful lessons.

Because sin has painful consequences.

Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" tells about one of those lessons:

"But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. Then the LORD’S anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God." (1 Chronicles 13:9-10)

Let’s start our lesson with some background.

The Ark had been in Kiriath-jearim for many years. The Israelites took the Ark from the tabernacle at Shiloh to the battlefield when they were fighting with the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). The Ark was captured by the Philistines, and subsequently taken to Ashdod, then to Gath, and finally to Ekron before they decided to get rid of it. It was finally returned to Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 4-6).

At some point, the men of Beth-shemesh sent messengers to the residents of Kiriath-jearim and asked them to take the Ark to their town. And there it remained until King David decided to return it to Jerusalem.

I’ve always kinda struggled with this passage. How it seems unfair and cruel.

Why did Uzzah have to die?

But, I am not God.

And God had directly given very specific instructions about how the Ark was to be carried and moved (Numbers 4:5-15).

It was to be carried by the Levites – and only them. It was to be carried on their shoulders. Transporting the Ark on a cart imitated the Philistines. And it was never to be touched.

These instructions had been ignored.


In his zeal, David had forgotten to consult God, and he had taken it upon himself to determine what God would want done.

He had the best intentions, and probably very good motives. But, he left out one very important particular – what did God want?

David’s enthusiasm was quickly dampened, and the Bible tells us that he had two rather dramatic reactions.

One, (verse 11) – "David was now angry…"

And, (verse 12) – "Now David was afraid of God…"

Has anything like this ever happened in your life?

Has there been something that you were so sure was God’s will? Some way of honoring Him or serving Him? Some job change, or location move, or relationship – a financial decision. It could be anything…

And you just KNEW that it was "from the Lord."

And then, it all blew up in your face…

Why, Lord?

Have you ever found yourself angry at Him, and afraid?

"I was trying to do the right thing, and this is what I get??"

I think it’s important to realize some very important facts – which David himself later learned.

Sometimes, we can do the right thing in the wrong way or at the wrong time.

Sometimes, we forget to consult God in the matter.

Sometimes, we subtly imitate the ways of the world when trying to accomplish something. We are smudged with sin, but we don’t see it.

Sometimes, we need to be reminded that our obedience is more important than our enthusiasm.

God is not cruel or unfair. But He is God. And He is to be feared and worshiped.

So, how can we know what He wants? How can we determine His will?

First and foremost, consult His Word – God gives very clear instructions on certain matters. Often, our decisions are easier than we realize. If it goes against the Word of God, it’s never His will.

Second, pray about the matter. Ask for wisdom. The Bible promises that God will give us His wisdom if we seek it with single-minded purpose. Often that translates – He will tell you what to do, if you single-mindedly obey what He says.

Third, consult other believers – they are often a very good benchmark to weigh our decisions against. Sometimes God offers His counsel through the words the Holy Spirit speaks through others. And ask them to pray for you, too.

And last but not least, don’t give up.

God might not be saying "No" – He might just be saying, "Not now" or "Not in this way."

David tried again.

He had learned a mighty lessonwhen God gives His instructions, it is wise to follow them precisely (even if we don’t understand them!)

So, my friends – step out in faith, following after God in obedience…

…trusting that at the right time, in the right way, He will reveal His will.

(Linked with Super Sunday, hosted by Peggy - Spiritual Sundays, hosted by Charlotte and Ginger - and Bible Pick 'Ems)

"When in doubt, search God out!"


  1. I'll be thinking about this today, Sharon. I've been in David's shoes in this one.

    Here's a question for you posed out of a heart too tranparent to keep the attached mouth shut.

    So, what if David had seen another fellow walk up and pick up the ark the same disobedient way and trot his happy way toward Jerusalem?

    Amid the cheers of the people...

    That's where I'm struggling with my IRL ark.

  2. Great post, Sharon. I love how you said "Sometimes, we need to be reminded that our obedience is more important than our enthusiasm." Simply obedience requires that we take our opinions, our thoughts, and our will out of the equation and trust that He knows best. Simple obedience and unconditional trust. Two words that I heard just yesterday... :)

  3. Wonderful points. This was a real blessing to me for Spiritual Sunday. I'm saving it. :) Thank you.

  4. I do agree with you, Sharon, we do need to pray and ask and consult and make sure we are doing what God wants us to do and if it goes against His Word in the Bible, then we know that will never be in his will. I struggle with this especially with this present circumstance I'm in because I prayed, others prayed, I was pretty much in the word a lot during the time of our decision, but I never got a clear direction from him other than "if you don't want us to do this Lord please let us know so clearly" and since he didn't so clearly, I have to think it was in his will? Yet I wonder especially with a lot of things happening these days. Anyway, good things to ponder on this beautiful sunny morning!


  5. I always do so much better when I STOP and ask God first - then just do it and then ask for help to get out of the mess I'm in becasue I didn't ask first!


  6. Okay- I LOVED visiting your "Quips and Quotes"!!!!
    LOVED it- so many great quotes to think about...deeply think about!
    Thank you for sharing, Sharon! xxxoo

  7. It's a very sobering story... we did it in a study last year. It stuck with me then too.

    As to your comments... I'm 'standing' with you friend!

  8. Glad I've studied this one before because it had tripped me up until I understood what God's directions and commandments were for moving the ark.
    Yep! Sometimes my enthusiasm gets ahead of my obedience. I loved that point that you made. Obedience, first. Enthusiasm, second.


  9. Good practical steps--faith, obedience, trust. Appreciated this reminder of finding God's will.


  10. Debbie - Thanks for your honest vulnerability. I don't always have a good answer for things I don't understand. And what you have shared is an area that I struggle with, too. I guess I'm just trying to "lean not on my own understanding..."

    Shelly - Like what you said: simple obedience, unconditional trust. Sounds so easy, but it's often so difficult. I thought what you said was exactly right on - remove ME from the equation.

    Kaye - Oh, thank you so much. I'm so glad that you stopped by today, please come back again. And it blesses me that you enjoyed what God spoke to me through His Word.

    Betty - I have always struggled with finding a clear understanding of God's will. Like you have pointed out, sometimes we do all the "right" things, and it's still unclear. I think maybe you're right - at that point, step out, and ask God to close the door if it isn't His way!

    Sandie - You don't know how many messes I've gotten myself into by stepping first, and then asking the Lord. Sometimes I think He just shakes His head at me - "When will she ever learn??"

    Janet - Here's another quote: "Seriously??" That one is from a good friend of mine. She's rather quotable. Glad you enjoyed that little "extra" on my blog. I always aim to please!! :)

    Sonja - It is a sobering story. I did this post - but truthfully, I still have some trouble with it. It does, however, make me glad that I live on this side of the cross, and that I have been promised the undeserved grace and mercy of God. That comforts me.

    Janis - Yes, I agree. God gave very specific directions on this one. And they weren't obeyed. There have been times when I directly disobeyed God, and He gave me forgiveness. That is something I'll never quite understand.

    Pamela - Thank you so much for stopping by today!! Finding God's will is my greatest desire. One of my biggest challenges? Obeying it when He tells me what to do! Blessings to you, too.



"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)