In 2 Samuel 6, a man named Uzzah touches the ark of the covenant and is immediately struck dead by God.
After decades this sacred box that was to be carried only by the priests was finally being transported to the holy city of Jerusalem. King David led a procession and celebration involving 30,000 Israelites while a cart, carrying the ark and pulled by oxen, came closer and closer to the city. When the oxen stumbled, Uzzah “reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it” (2 Samuel 6:3-6). In the next verse, we read that “the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence” (2 Samuel 6:7).
Uzzah did not have evil motives. He was not trying or planning to do any harm, and it seems that he was sincerely trying to protect the ark from damage. Uzzah was not the only guilty party. Israel had not properly cared for the ark in several decades, and they should never have transported it on a cart pulled by oxen. Uzzah failed to treat the ark as holy; he physically touched it with his hands and immediately suffered the consequence.
One of the many lessons we can learn from this tragic event is that God demands our reverent obedience before everything else. He does not need our help or protection, just as He did not need Uzzah to save the ark from damage. No matter how sincere we may be, no matter how sinful the culture around us might become, God will always demand our reverent obedience to Him.