The following was written by Ed (heb12347 on the gmail.com email system) on the Church_of_Christ Yahoo! Group.
I remember the first time I heard about Uzzah, I sorta felt sorry for him. After all, all he did was try to steady the Ark of the Covenant and keep it from smashing into a thousand pieces, it seemed to me. David was bringing the Ark to Jerusalem on a new cart pulled by oxen. It was a big affair with over 30,000 escorts and music. All of a sudden the oxen stumbled, the Ark teetered, and Uzzah reached out to steady it. God struck him dead! The story is recorded in 2 Samuel 6.
As I learned more, I came to understand what was going on and I no longer feel sorry for Uzzah. Familiarity breeds contempt and Uzzah had grown up with the Ark kept in his house. He knew all about the ark, including that is was to be moved by the Kohathites carrying it (Numbers 4:15) and that no one was to touch it (Num 4:15). He had heard stories about the men of Bethshemesh (1 Sam 6:19); how 70 had died as a result of looking into the Ark. He knew better than to treat something sacred as if it was common! We should know this same lesson - Heb 12:28! Reverence should characterize every disciple!
But there is more to this than Uzzah's irreverence. David learned a lesson as well. David left the ark where Uzzah was struck dead to study what went wrong. Apparently David didn't know the Ark was to be carried by Kohathites. Uzzah didn't tell him. So in 1 Chronicles 15:1 David announces, "No one but the Levites may carry the Ark because the Lord chose them." In verse 13 David explained why things went wrong the first time and Uzzah died: "We did not inquire of the Lord about how to do it in the prescribed way." So when they went on to Jerusalem Levites carried the Ark "in accordance with the word of the Lord".
When it comes to doing the things of God, we need to inquire of the Lord that we might do it the right way! Jesus teaches us that "the true worshipers of God worship Him in spirit and truth for the Lord seeks such to worship Him." We are not free to do as we please. The Lord seeks "such" people who will look to Him to find what pleases Him and not go beyond it. Those who choose to act as if they are free to do as they please are very much like Uzzah. He knowingly substituted a cart and oxen when it would have been just as easy to do God's prescribed will. May we learn to act reverently before the Lord.