"And David said unto all the congregation of Israel . . . let us bring again the ark of our God to us:
. . . And David went up, and all Israel, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD. And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzza" 1 Chronicles 13:2, 3, 6-11.
Many have had difficulty understanding this tragic story. Clearly David's desire was a good one. He had thrown his heart into the project of moving the ark to Jerusalem. Why did God smite Uzza?
An extremely important lesson is found in this incident. No amount of enthusiasm or positive desires substitute for obedience to God's clearly revealed commandments. To transport the ark, the Levites were to cover it, put staves (polls) through rings on its sides and carry it on their shoulders and it was said "they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die" Numbers 4:5, 6, and 15.
The books of Moses were not only available to David, but from his Psalms it is clear that he had studied them extensively. "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: . . . the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes" Psalm 19:7, 8. David would have read Deuteronomy 6:24 where Moses said "And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day."
David was willing to learn from this difficult experience of which he confessed, "We sought him not after the due order" 1 Chronicles 15:13. He was once again ready to bring the ark to Jerusalem, but this time he followed every particular in showing reverence for its holiness (see I Chronicles 15).
Oh that we, in our love for God, would be as ready to learn. "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" John 14:21.