Frank Sinatra recorded the song “I Did It My Way” in 1969, but King David could have sung it in 1010 BCE.
Fresh from a victory over Israel’s enemy the Philistines and newly crowned king of all Israel, David had thrown the party of the century. Three days of eating, drinking, and dancing, and family everywhere. “There was joy in Israel.”
As they were sitting around eating raisin cakes, burgers, and lamb chops, David proposed an idea. “What do you think, guys? I’d kinda like to have the ark back. (You'll remember that the Ark of God was a large wooden box that contained priceless artifacts from the exodus). It’s been way out in Kirjath Jearim for a long time, and we haven’t been able to use it to inquire of God. Wouldn’t it be cool to restore it to its rightful place among the people?”
“Sounds good to me,” the military captains said.
“Great idea,” the local leaders said.
“Let’s do it,” the people of Israel said.
So David gathered everyone together, placed the ark on a brand new cart, gave the band its cue, and the parade began. All was well until Oxen #1 hit a pothole and stumbled. Uzza, the chief petty officer in charge of the ark, reached out to catch it and keep it from sliding off the cart.
Quicker than you can say “Duck,” a giant lightning bolt shot from the sky. When the smoke cleared, all that was left of Uzza was his dogtags.
What’s up with this? All King David wanted to do was restore the ark to its rightful place (a good thing). All the people wanted to do was support their king (a good thing). All Uzza wanted to do was keep the ark from hitting the ground (a good thing).
And lightning crackles from heaven and turns Uzza into a French fry?
On the surface, this seems so wrong. So out of the blue (pun intended). So random. So UNFAIR. They were just trying to do something GOOD. Something GOOD FOR GOD, for heaven's sake.
Enter Frank Sinatra.
And the problem that has beset mankind since Day 1 in the Garden.
“I did it my way.”
Many years before, through Moses, God gave the Israelites special instructions for handling and transporting the ark. These instructions are recorded in (Numbers 4:4, 15, 17-20):
Only one particular branch of the Aaronic line, the Kohathites, can move the most holy things.
Never touch the ark.
Carry it on poles.
Remember, this wasn’t just a piece of furniture. It was a symbol of God himself—the place where God chose to place his presence. He “dwelt between the cherubim” on top of the ark. When David proposed moving the ark, he wasn’t just switching the sofa from the east wall to the west, he was relocating GOD. Did God care about how that was done? Yeah!
In total presumption and independence, David, his captains, and the people never stopped to ask God if he wanted the ark moved. Or how he wanted it moved. They just did it.
I am so guilty of this.
I get a great idea. I plan how to make it happen. I invite other people to help. I implement the plan.
But I forget to pray about it. To ask God if it’s his idea or mine. To be still before him and listen for his thumbs up or thumbs down. Sometimes I don’t even care if it’s his idea or mine. I just want him to rubber stamp it.
There are at least four dangers to doing good things without God:
1. We harm instead of help. (Think of Uzzah.)
2. We lack Holy Spirit power. ("Apart from me, you can do nothing. John 15:5)
3. Our work is useless in the kingdom. It is wood, hay, and stubble and will burn up on the Day of Judgment.
4. We misspend and misdirect valuable time, energy, and effort.
So what should David have done? And what should we do?
* Begin with prayer. Sit at God's feet and invite him to give us our marching orders. Let the ideas come from God.
* Write down what we think we hear. As we pray about it, does the desire grow stronger over time or fade?
* Ask, does it agree with Scripture? (If David had asked this question, Uzzah would never have died.)
* Seek counsel from wise, godly experts. If David had consulted the priests, they would have told him there was a special protocol for moving the ark.
Thankfully, David didn’t let his failure stop him. He spent time before the Lord, and God revealed his error (1 Chron. 15:13). He took the appropriate steps, then went back and did it right. The result was a beautiful celebration and the return of God’s presence to Gibeon.
“So David, the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-Edom with joy” (15:25)
“O give thanks to the Lord,” David penned, "for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. . . Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!”
If you’re like me, you want to please God and further his kingdom. By praying, seeking his will, confirming it with Scripture, and obtaining wise counsel, we’ll have a better understanding of how to do this.
What about you? When you think you’re hearing from God, how to you find out for sure? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
If you'd like to hear "Old Blue Eyes" sing his famous song, here you go. If you're reading by email, click HERE to watch it on Hungry for God.