Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. – 2 Samuel 6:6-7 (NRSV)
As I shined my flashlight on the roadside mechanic changing my tire, the meaning of his grumbly headshake became clear when he barked, “You think you’re helping, but you’re not!”
Chastised, I slinked away. I thought I was being helpful, but he didn’t need or want the help I was offering. At least he didn’t lash out like God did against Uzzah!
David’s crew hauled the Ark of the Covenant over rocky ground. When the cart shook, Uzzah reached out to steady the ark. He thought he was helping, but he was not. Oddly, this angered God, and Uzzah was immediately struck down.
How often do we offer help that the other person does not need or want? Clothes sent overseas, doors held, tasks taken over, unsolicited advice given? Our “help” ends up being condescending and insulting. Maybe we didn’t ask if the person wanted or needed our help or what would actually be helpful. Maybe we’re not the right person to offer help.
After Uzzah’s death, David realized he couldn’t care for the Ark. He stepped aside and let Obed-Edom the Gittite take over. David knew he wasn’t the right person to help. Sometimes that’s how we can be the most helpful.
Holy One: I want to be helpful. Remind me to ask if my help is needed, wanted, or appropriate, or if I can help by stepping aside for the right person. Amen.