So when we come to the story of Uzzah, he seems to be doing a good thing. The ark is falling and going to get dirty or damaged. Yet R.C. Sproul insightfully points out the fatal assumption: Uzzah believed that mud would desecrate the ark, but mud is not evil. God’s law was not meant to keep the ark pure from the earth, but from the dirty touch of a human hand. Uzzah presumed his hands were cleaner than the dirt. God said no.
What Uzzah’s story means for David and us
David’s reaction to Uzzah’s death was understandable: he was angry but he was also afraid (2 Sam. 6:9). Knowing he was no more holy than Uzzah, David asked “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” Of course, we know that this statement was truer than David realized, as he would soon commit both adultery and murder, and then later in life make a shipwreck of his family.
And if we are honest, we should understand the same thing that David did. If David—a man after God’s own heart and his chosen king—fears for his life, how can the life of any sinful human being endure in the presence of a holy God?
God himself provided the solution for humanity. Jesus Christ came as the promised king in the line of David. He bore the wrath that David and every other human being has earned for our sin and died the death we all deserve. In return he offers us his holiness and right standing with God so that each of us, without fearing for our lives, can live in the presence of a righteous God.
R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1985) 157-167.