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It's Not Stupidity

It's Ignorance.

2 Samuel 6:1–7

Again David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the LORD of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals.

And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.

Step back for a moment and think about what’s going on here. The ark is valuable. Compare its value to, say, the Mona Lisa.

You can’t. The ark is incomparably valuable. It’s more valuable that all the da Vinci paintings put together—by factor of … what? It’s not even that kind of valuable.

David understands this and wants to move it back to its rightful place. So, how would you move the Mona Lisa? Two men and a truck? Okay, so how would you move the ark?

“And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; … You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side. And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them. The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. … but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. — Exodus 25:10a, 12–15, Numbers 4:15b

This isn’t funny; it’s an important lesson, but it sure sounds like a, “You might be a redneck if-” joke.

What were they thinking?

Their problem isn’t stupidity; it’s ignorance.

That’s not a joke. There is plenty of evidence that the whole nation only had one copy of the book of the law, and sometimes they couldn’t even find it. The commands they violated would only be known to a select group of scholars. Besides, the ark had been safely transported on a cart before (by the Philistines).

Then take the ark of the LORD and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go. — 1 Samuel 6:8

In our literate society, where everyone has a Bible, it’s hard for us to imagine their lack of knowledge.

These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday ones are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe click here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, can be downloaded here:

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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