Untouchable – A Man Touches the Ark of the Covenant and Dies on the Spot


The ark of the covenant housed the symbols of the Israelites’ covenant with God – the tablets of the Ten Commandments.  The ark was a symbol of the throne of God – the King of the earth.  This holy object was not to be treated lightly, and was proclaimed to be untouchable.  Only the priests could carry the ark, and only by holding poles inserted into the rings.  It was NOT to be touched (see Numbers 4:4-6, 15).

During the time of the prophet Samuel, the Philistines – the perennial disrupters of joy for the people of Israel – stole the ark and took it to the city of Ashdod (see 1 Samuel 4 -5).  God struck the people of Ashdod with a plague, so they did the smart thing – they tried to give the ark back to Israel, along with a peace offering.  After about seventy people died because they looked in the ark, it was taken to the home of Abinadab where it remained for twenty years (see 1 Samuel 6:1 – 7:2).

When David became king over Israel, he decided to bring the ark back to Jerusalem.  With an honour guard of about thirty thousand, David arrived to escort the ark.  They made a celebration out of it, with worship music at full blast.

Problem was, no one consulted the manual about how to transport the ark.  So they put it on a cart pulled by oxen.


While the ark traveled on a new cart, the unthinkable happened.   One of the oxen pulling it slipped for some reason.   Without stopping to think about it, a man named Uzzah reached out to steady the ark, and God put him to death on the spot.

Uzzah’s death was unsettling for David.  Instead of bringing the ark back to Jerusalem, he left it in the home of a Levite named Obed-Edom for a few months.  But those few months proved a  bounty for Obed-Edom and his family because of the ark’s presence.

Hearing that Obed-Edom’s family was blessed for having the ark rather than cursed, David finally had enough nerve to complete the ark’s journey.

But this time, he read the instruction manual.


To find out more about the ark’s rocky road to Jerusalem, read 2 Samuel 6.