The Breach of Uzzah
May 7th, 1961 @ 7:30 PM
2 Samuel 6:1-11
THE BREACH OF UZZAH
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
2 Samuel 6:1-23
5-7-61 7:30 p.m.
Following the life of David, we have come to that beautiful and meaningful, partly tragic, ultimately, sublimely profitable story of the bringing of the ark into Jerusalem. When they brought the ark into Jerusalem, David wrote a psalm—one of the beautiful, one of the quoted, one of the most meaningful of all in the Psalter. And tonight, I thought we would read that psalm together. You have known it from childhood. It is number 24; we turn to Psalm 24, and we will all read it together. This is the hymn, the song, the psalm that David wrote when the ark was brought into Jerusalem.
Last Sunday evening, we spoke of the capture of Jerusalem by Joab and by David’s men from the Jebusites. And David made his capital there, built his palace there. It became the city of the great king [1 Chronicles 11:4-6; 2 Samuel 5:6-10]. And tonight, we shall speak of the bringing of the ark into the Holy City. And this is the psalm they sang as they brought the ark into Jerusalem. All of us together, Psalm 24:
The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face O Jacob.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.
Now, the reading of the story that follows quite a different line from what we might think, and out of it is the message of the evening. The story is in 2 Samuel chapter 6: “Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand” [2 Samuel 6:1]. They were representative men, and they were that numerous because of the sublimity and significance of the occasion.
And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubim.
And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.
And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was in Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark.
And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments….
And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perez-uzzah—breach of Uzzah—to this day.
And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?
So David would not remove the ark of the Lord unto him into the City of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite.
And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months; and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household.
And it was told King David, saying, The Lord hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the City of David with gladness.
And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.
And David danced before the Lord with all His might…
[2 Samuel 6:1-14]
Would it not be wonderful if we danced today like that? That would be wonderful dancing—wonderful dancing: dancing before the Lord. Not “hoochie-coochie,” with one another in a dark, dim place—not that I know anything about it. I just hear of it.
He danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.
And they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of the hosts.
And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to everyone he gave a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and—you have it translated here—a flagon of wine.
[2 Samuel 6:14-19]
Some “wet” got in here and translated that. Now doesn’t that beat anything you ever saw? Here is a guy who is pulling for liquor and voting wet, and trying to turn us all into drunkards, and he gets in there and has a part in translating the Word of God. You have got to watch those fellows, I tell you.
The Hebrew here says: “And he gave them all a cake of bread, and a piece of flesh, and a cluster of grapes.” But, when they translated it, they made it “a flagon of wine.” Now isn’t that something? Isn’t that something? And you don’t know what a consolation it was to my heart to find out that the Hebrew says a “cluster of grapes,” and not “a flagon of wine.” “So all the people departed everyone to his house” [2 Samuel 6:19].
Then you have the story of Michal, Saul’s daughter: “Then David returned to bless his household.” See, he had blessed the people. Then, as his custom would be, he came to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said—and how ironic, how full of irony, how full of sarcasm—”How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!” [2 Samuel 6:20].
You see, only the women danced; the men were too dignified, they were too reserved. They were too much in quietness and in honor to express themselves like that. So, Michal, in sarcasm, ridiculed David for doing what a woman would do: dancing before the Lord, singing unto the Lord with a timbrel, with a cymbal.
And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I dance—therefore will I play before the Lord.
[2 Samuel 6:21]
However ridiculous it may be in somebody else’s eyes, and however imperiously and contumaciously you look upon it, “I yet will do it unto God.”
And I will yet more be vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight; and of the maidservants which thou has spoken of, of them shall I be had in honor—God will not despise those who praise and glorify Him—
Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.
[2 Samuel 6:22-23]
That is a typical illustration of the difference of the spirit in the house of Saul and the house of David. David was an abundant, a brilliant, overflowing Christian! He praised God out of the fullness of his soul and out of the gladness of his spirit. He loved to sing, and he loved to play, and he loved to glorify and magnify God. And this spirit of Michal is very typical of the household of Saul. Actually, really, Saul’s household was like Saul himself. He had no basic religion, none at all, none at all. He was as materialistic, he was as selfish, he was as proud and imperious, he was as full of himself and lifted up as a man could be. And you can’t glorify God and be full of yourself. It was out of the fullness of his heart and love for God that David played, and he sang, and he magnified the Lord.
Now to follow the story, the sermon is an altogether different way. How come the ark found down there in what is called here Gibeah in Kirjath-jearim, in “Woodville,” in the city of the woods, Kirjath-jearim? [1 Samuel 7:2]. Well, you remember why it was there. When Eli was high priest and Hophni and Phinehas were his ungodly sons, in that day they brought the ark out of the tabernacle into the midst of the battle, thinking that therein and thereby, they would immediately overcome the resistance of the Philistines. Instead, the Philistines slew Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, they destroyed the armies of Israel, they won the battle, and they carried captive into Philistia the ark of the covenant [1 Samuel 4:10-11]—the sacred symbol of the Lord God Himself—described here as “Him who dwelleth between the cherubim” [2 Samuel 6:2].
Now, as the ark was taken to Ashdod, then to Gath, then to Ekron, the Lord God cursed the gods of Philistia and cursed the people of Philistia whithersoever that ark was taken [1 Samuel 5:1-10]. In order to get rid of it, that the people themselves might live, they asked their diviners and their sorcerers what should they do [1 Samuel 6:1-2]. And those sages who dwelt in the land of Philistia said: “Let us make a new cart and let us put kine—let us put cattle to it, hitch oxen, hitch cattle to it, milk kine to it, who have never been plowed, have never been yoked, and then let us turn them loose. And if they go away from their calves and away from their home into Judea, then we will know that this thing is of God” [1 Samuel 6:7-9].
So, they did that. They built a cart, a new cart, and they hitched to it milk cows who had never been separated from their calves and never been yoked. And to the amazement of the dukes and the lords of Philistia, those kine, those milk cows, turned aside from their own calves, turned away from their own stalls and made a track to the hills of Judea, in which district they had never been in their lives [1 Samuel 6:10-12].
Now, when the men of Beth-shemesh saw the ark coming, they rejoiced [1 Samuel 6:13]. But, because they looked on the inside of the ark, the men of Beth-shemesh were cursed with a disease from God [1 Samuel 6:19]. And in order to get rid of that fearful thing, they called to the men of Woodville—up there at Kirjath-jearim—and said” “Come down and get this ark away. We tremble before it.” So, they took the ark and placed it in the house of Abinadab in Kirjath-jearim. And there it remained for years, and years, and years, and years [1 Samuel 6:20-7:2].
Now, in the sixth chapter of the [Second] Book of Samuel—the next time we mention the ark, in the sixth chapter of the Book of Samuel—David says, “Let us get the ark and let us bring it up to the city of Jerusalem” [2 Samuel 6:12]. So, so, now can you imagine this? So, instead of doing what God said to do—how did God say to bear that ark? No man was ever to look upon it [Exodus 40:3, 21]. But in the sacred Holy of Holies, when the veil was taken down, the veil was to be dropped as it was lowered; it was to be dropped over the ark of the covenant [Numbers 4:5]. No man was to look upon it. Just once a year, beyond that veil, with blood of atonement, the high priest was to enter, and there sprinkle the blood on the ark of the covenant [Leviticus 16:14]. No man was to see it except that high priest once a year. And when the priest lowered the veil, it was to be lowered over the ark [Numbers 4:5].
And then the Levites, with staves through golden rings on each side, were to bear the covered ark with its covering of blue, were to bear it up on their shoulders [Numbers 7:9, 1 Chronicles 15:15]. The only piece of color in the march of Israelites was the ark, covered over with blue, solid blue, the blue of God’s sky [Exodus 26:31]. Now that is the way the Lord said, definitely, meticulously, to bear the ark. It was the heathen, pagan, uncircumcised Philistines that put it on a wagon, on a cart [1 Samuel 6:10-11]. God said, “My ark is to be carried thus.”Now, why David fell into this persuasion, I have no idea. But instead of obeying the mandates of God and bearing the ark as it ought be borne, he did exactly like the heathen, unlettered, pagan, untaught Philistines. He made a new cart for it and hitched oxen to the cart and began to carry the ark out of the house of Abinadab up toward Jerusalem [2 Samuel 6:2-6].
Now, there were two boys in that house. One was named Ahio, and the other was named Uzzah [2 Samuel 6:3]. They had seen that ark all the days of their lives. They’d grown up with that ark. They couldn’t remember, nor could their father remember, when that ark wasn’t there in that house. It was another piece of furniture. They sat on this stool. They ate at that table. They slept on that bed. They used this lampstand… and there was the ark. And they had seen it all their lives. It was a common piece of furniture to them.
So when they took the ark and placed it on the cart, why, Ahio went in front, guiding, leading the oxen up toward Jerusalem, and Uzzah walked by the side of the cart to help deliver it to David in Jerusalem [2 Samuel 6:3-4]. Now when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, those oxen were apparently hungry. And they turned aside—against the will, apparently, of the boys, they turned aside to eat some of the grain or to get a bite as they passed by. And when the oxen turned out of the road and toward the threshing floor of Nachon, why, it shook the ark [2 Samuel 6:6]. And Uzzah, to Uzzah it was a common piece of furniture all of his life, seen it all of his life, there is nothing in it of reverence or of awe or of respect; it was just another piece of furniture to Uzzah. And when the thing shook, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady it [2 Samuel 6:6], just like he would the stool, had it been on the ox cart and started to fall off, or had it been the breakfast table or the dining room table, or had it been the lampstand, or had it even been a bed or other piece of furniture, it was just like all the rest to Uzzah.
And when the oxen shook it, he put his hand upon it to steady it. And when he did, the anger of the Lord flashed out of the sky. And the indignation of the Lord smote him, and he died there by the side of the ark of God [2 Samuel 6:6-7]. And David, David was filled with displeasure and with fear [2 Samuel 8-9]. And he said, “I do not want it. I do not want it. You take it aside there and put it in the home of this Levite, Obededom, and you leave it there. I do not want it up here with me, if God is going to do that.” And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months. And God greatly favored and blessed Obededom [2 Samuel 6:10-11]. And David came to his senses. And David saw that this is not a thing of fear. This is a thing that God calls from us in respect, and in dignity, and in honor, and in awesome reverence. And when he found that God blessed Obededom, then David went down and brought the ark up to Jerusalem [2 Samuel 6:12]. And it stayed there until it was carried away by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylonian captivity. And the next time we see it, it is in heaven [Revelation 11:19]. And when we preach through the Revelation and get to it, we will see it up there in the temple of God, in glory.
Now, I want to talk to you tonight about this breach of Uzzah. That sounds cruel. That sounds cruel. And David was filled with indignation that the wrath was God was kindled against Uzzah [2 Samuel 6:8]. But what God did is something that God wants us to learn to this day. It’s a thing that David learned, and it’s the thing that we ought to learn. The next time David moves that ark, he does it with great and referential awe and fear. And he does it exactly according to the commandment of Almighty God [2 Samuel 6:12-15; 1 Chronicles 15:14-15]. And the teaching of the breach of Uzzah came to David, and it came to David’s people, and it comes to us today.
And now just as briefly as I can, may I summarize an hour or a two hour sermon, this breach of Uzzah? What is this thing that God would enforce upon the minds of His children as we read this story? And why did God allow that to happen in order that we might understand these things? All right, this is it; listen to it. It is easy and it is a failing in life that, because a thing of God is commonplace, therefore, it becomes meaningless and worthless to us, and we treat it with disrespect, and without honor, and without awe, and without reverence because it is a commonplace. That ark had been in Abinadab’s house ever since Uzzah was born. It was just a commonplace piece of furniture to him, and he treated it as such! And God says these things that may be commonplaces to us are to be received with reverence and awe! And they are not to be treated as though they were just ordinary things.
Now, as rapidly as I can, I’m going to list some things that are commonplaces to us, but they are the gifts of God. They are the gifts of God, and they are to be received in reverential respect and in awe and in great devoted consecration unto God. May I name one right after another, just as rapidly as I can? Here is one. Here is one: I suppose the commonest thing we have is our bodies, our bodies. We put the thing to bed at night, and raise it up in the morning, and we wash its face, and shave off its beard, and we clothe it, and house it, and feed it and modify it, and take care of it. And all the days of our lives, we have got this thing hanging around our necks: this body of ours. Take it to the doctor and let him thump at it at five dollars a thump, commonest thing in the world is your body. And the Lord in heaven could only guess and could only know the mistreatment of humanity for this sacred house of God, the temple of the Holy Ghost of heaven [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].
There is a great institution here in the city of Dallas, named for a man—a citizen of Dallas—I hear it all the time. I read of it in the paper. I rode on an airplane to Chicago with that man and our mutual friend, who is a physician, a wonderful doctor in this city. After we had spent our visit up there in Chicago, I met the doctor in Baylor Hospital. He said, “Did you know our friend is on such-and-such floor? He has a cancer—and he used his fist—bigger than my fist, at the top of the right lobe of his lungs.” And he says, “He is going to die.” And I ran into that doctor, just happened so, at Baylor Hospital a few days after that. And he said to me, “Did you know that our friend is dead?” He was a chain smoker. And the physician said to me, “The cancer is due to no other thing, and his death is due to no other thing than that he was a chain smoker.” Now, I am not saying to you that there are moral equations in smoking. I am just avowing to you that the house you live in is to be treated with great respect and reverential awe; it is the temple of the Holy Ghost! [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]. And what defiles it, and dirties it, and destroys it, and ruins it, is not pleasing unto God. He would be living here today, living here today, instead of his life cut off, out of the land of the living. So treat your body with respect, and with dignity, and with reverential awe.
I don’t know how we ought to do it, but every once in a while, Brother Carter and Brother Cox—wherever he is—Brother Cox, every once in a while, we ought to have some kind of a meeting down here to which the doctor or the pastor or both of us could speak to boys about the abuse of their bodies. That ought to be done, and the church ought to accept the responsibility for it, along with father and mother. See, it is a commonplace to us: this house we live in. But it is the temple of God and to be received from His hands with awe and with reverential respect. We ought to do as pleases God to keep well and strong and usable in His name and for His cause.
I wish I had time to speak about time, time, time, everyday some time for God, and one day of the week given to God. I wish I had opportunity to speak about what God gives us: possessions, what God places in our hands. Let me say one sentence: stewardship is not a phase of Christianity. Christianity is a great stewardship. In the New Testament it is called oikonomia, translated stewardship, oikonomia, a great bestowment, endowment from heaven. “Occupy,” He says, “till I come” [Luke 19:13]. Tithing is not something that God has given us to get blood out of a turnip. God doesn’t need what we have. The cattle on a thousand hills are His [Psalm 50:10]. The gold and silver [Haggai 2:8]—all this world is His [Psalm 50:12]. But this thing of our tithing our possessions is that we might learn our dependence upon God. “Occupy, till I come” [Luke 19:13]—stewardship. Oh, that we had an hour to mention these other things.
May I mention spiritual things now that become commonplaces? The gospel: we hear it, and then we hear it, then we hear it, and then we hear it again, and then we hear it yet again, and still again. And finally, we become dull of hearing and calloused of heart. When the gospel is the power of God unto salvation: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” [1 Corinthians 1:21]. But we hear it and hear it and hear it until the announcement “The man is going to preach the gospel” is just a common thing and means nothing to us at all, nothing at all; the gospel, the gospel.
Hell: I have heard hell so joked about, and the only time it is ever referred to is in a cuss word, until it has lost all of its horror and all of its fundamental and final meaning, the fire and the flame and the perdition and the damnation of those that are shut out from God [Revelation 20:14-15]. Oh! Oh, we have joked it out of existence, made a commonplace out of the word. Yet, it seems to tremble before….O God! If I could fall into perdition and damnation, Lord, save my soul; Lord, Lord, remember me, remember me, the flame and the fire of hell.
I wish I had time to speak of our ordinances. Did you know one of the most unusual passages in the Bible and one that I have a hard time explaining; an unusual passage in the Bible is this passage that I read every time we have the memorial of the Lord’s Supper? He says, “Whosoever eateth and drinketh, unworthily” [1 Corinthians 11:27], that is an adverb, “in an unworthy manner.” We were never worthy ourselves to do it. This is for sinners. “This is My blood, shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28]. If you are a sinner, if you are looking to Jesus for the washing away of your sins [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:7], then this is for you. If you don’t need any salvation, if you’re perfect and self-righteous, then it’s not for you. But, if you are a sinner, if you are lost and looking to Jesus to save you, if you are not equal for death and for the judgment to come, then this is for you, this is for you. “Whosoever eats and drinks, unworthily, in an unworthy manner [1 Corinthians 11:27], eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause” [1 Corinthians 11:29-30]—now listen to this passage—”For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” [1 Corinthians 11:30]—because of their attitude, flippant and irreverent towards the Lord’s Supper, Paul says, “Many are sick and weakly among you, and many have already died” [1 Corinthians 11:30]. And I say, that is one of the hardest passages in the Bible for me to realize, but it says it in the Book. It says it in the Book. Awe and reverence, that is the reason whatever it takes for us to have this service in great respect, discerning the Lord’s body, that is what we ought to do. And that’s why when they say, “Why don’t you have the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day, every Sunday?” that’s my answer. Simply because it seems to me that, when you have it every Sunday and every Lord’s Day, you have it so frequently until the people get in the habit of wanting to get through with it. Every Sunday, “Let’s get it over with!” Every Sunday, we go through these motions. And I have watched them in those churches that have it every Sunday. Let’s get it along, move it along. Let’s get it going because we have other things to do. We . . . and that’s not pleasing to God. Whatever it is, when we have this Table, it ought to be set with hands of devotion and consecration, and it ought to be shared in deepest humility and reverential awe for the sacrifice of the Son of God.
I mention just one, and then we shall sing our appeal: the appeal of Christ Himself. You’ve been to church, and you’ve been to church, and you’ve been to church, and you’ve been to church, and you’ve heard an evangelist say, “Come to the Lord.” And you have heard the preacher say, “Come to Jesus.” And you’ve heard the congregation sing the hymn of invitation. And you’ve heard it so much until it’s just the commonest thing in the life. And to say “No” is just a part of your character. It’s a part of you. You become a negation itself—”No, no,” and you go out that door, unmoved, your heart hard and your spirit indifferent. Oh, oh, oh! Listen to the Word of God:
For if we sin willfully, if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
But a certain fearful looking for of fiery judgment and indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who have trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and have done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
For we know Him who had said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people.
It is a fearful thing to fall unto the hands of the living God. For our Lord is a consuming fire!
Those things frighten your heart. A man passes Jesus by; “No” to the Lord. And there is nothing that remains but the judgment of Almighty God, the flame and the fury of the visitation, of the indignation of the Lord. Oh, that there might be in us the answer to the appeal of that same author. The Book of Hebrews said, “Today—today, today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts [Hebrews 4:7]. Turn and come. Turn and come.”
“And here I come. I make it now. Here I am. I come tonight.” I think our invitation hymn is: “Oh, Why Not Tonight?” And while we sing that song, while we sing that song, in this balcony somebody you, on this lower floor a family you, coming in faith to Christ or putting your life with us in the church, while we sing this appeal, make it tonight. Make it as though you’ve never heard of God in Christ before, “And I love the Lord too. Here I am.” Make it as though this was the highest, holiest hour of your life, and it will be that, if you’ll make it that.
“Pastor, I give you my hand. I give my heart to Jesus.” Or, “Pastor, here we come into the church. This is my wife, these are my children, we are all coming tonight.” Or just one somebody you, would you make it now? Come and stand by me. Here at the front, down one of these stairways, into the aisle, “Here I am, pastor. Here I come. I make it now,” while we stand and while we sing.
THE BREACH OF UZZAH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Samuel 6:1-23
A. The loss of the ark to the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:10-11)
B. Its attempted return to Israel and Jerusalem (1 Samuel 6:7-7:2)
C. David attempts to bring the ark to Jerusalem
1. He disobeys mandates of God on how to bear the ark
(Leviticus 16:14, 2 Samuel 6:2-3)
D. The commonness of the ark to Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6)
E. The lesson David learns (2
things, consecrated to God, not to be profanely handled
A. The body
C. Possessions (Luke 19:13,
Psalm 50:10, Haggai 2:8)
things, meaningful to God, not to be lightly handled
A. The preaching of the gospel (1
B. The Christian teaching of hell
C. The ordinances (1 Corinthians
11:27-30, Matthew 26:28)
D. The appeal of Christ Himself (Hebrews
10:26-31, 12:29, 4:7)