2 Samuel 6:1-12; 1 Chronicles 8:31, 9:36, 13:1-14.
I trust this king far more than I trusted my own nephew, Saul. David is proving to have our country’s best interests at heart. I say this not because he’s such a skilled military tactician, but because he is determined to return the country to its real source of security, the worship of God.
Since the shameful day the Philistines stole the ark of God, twenty years and seven months ago, the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle has been empty. Today, that will change. My steadiest ox team is yoked to my brother Uzzah’s new cart, and we are in charge of moving the ark from my father Abinadab’s house in Kiriath Jearim to the tabernacle.
It hasn’t rained for a few days, so the clay of the road isn’t slick or rutted. I see a Levite in the doorway. He’s got a white-knuckled grip on the pair of poles that support the ark, and he eases over the threshold. The expression on his face makes me nervous, and I pat the shoulder of my wheel ox and check the pin that secures the wagon tongue one more time.
The man in the rear also moves with exaggerated care, and the two of them seem relieved to set their burden on the bed of the cart. I make the encouraging sound my team knows well, and they lean into the yoke. The oxcart wheels turn and we head downhill.
Hundreds of people line the road, and the musicians among them begin to play a triumphal song. The ark of our God is going back to its tabernacle. King David himself is leading a group of courtiers ahead of the cart. The sheer pleasure on his face eases my earlier tension away, and I enjoy this procession in God’s honor.
The rising sun warms my back, and my team plods steadily along. Some small children dart into the road, but my oxen merely flick their ears. My brother Uzzah jogs up.
“Ahio, this is—going really well,” he pants, and grins at me.
I smile too. “It is,” I say, and look back at the ark of the Covenant. I’m still amazed at how long it rested in my father’s house. God blessed us, but living with God’s presence in our home changed us, and how we lived with our neighbors.
At each village we approach, fresh enthusiastic singing breaks out. My oxen begin to sweat. They draw this sized cart almost daily, and the ark isn’t large, but I’m starting to realize that it, and its care is a huge burden. Uzzah goes back to his place beside the cart.
We’ve covered less than half of the distance to Jerusalem, and the tabernacle. King David’s energetic dance goes on, and he sheds the outermost of his royal robes into the hands of a servant. In the distance, I see the walls that protect the threshing floor of Kidon. The ground is level there, and my team will appreciate a breather.
“Come along, my fine ones,” I urge. “This is something I’ll never ask you to do again.” The cart creaks, and I check the yoke pin in panic. If something damaged the ark of God, it would be a tragedy.
“Keep them moving, Ahio,” Uzzah shouts.
“They may need a rest at the threshing floor,” I say. I don’t want to use the goad. Usually they’re a willing team. The oxen breathe harder. As we draw even with the gate in the wall, my lead ox goes to its knees.
The cart jolts, and I hear the dreadful sound as the ark slides toward the edge. Uzzah turns, and plants both palms on the side of the ark. It does not fall, but he does. Uzzah is dead, and the mood of celebration has instantly become one of grief and fear. Two of the king’s mighty men move my brother’s body from the road.
“The ark of God will go to the house of Obed-Edom.” David commands, his face pale. “I cannot bring it to Jerusalem with me.”
Levites in the crowd step forward to grip those terrible poles. Our awesome God needs none of us to protect him. My ox struggles to its feet. I lift the body of Uzzah into the cart and turn back toward home.
Heidi Dru Kortman DTM
God's gifts and call are irrevocable.
Heidi Dru Kortman, a CWG Apprentice graduate, ACFW member since 2004, and Word Weaver member has published devotionals in various newsletters, and a collected volume of devotionals. Her poetry, flash fiction, and short stories have appeared in small magazines, and a website. She is applying herself to the task of writing smoothly polished fiction.