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In this series we’re looking at Five Epic Worship Fails from scripture,  what we can learn from them, and how we can apply their lessons in our lives and ministry. Make sure you read the Introduction first! https://www.robstill.com/five-epic-worship-fails-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them/

Epic Fail Number Two: David and The Ark (2 Samuel 6, 1Chronicles 13 & 15)

Background of the story. This is the account of when David returns the Ark of the covenant from its captivity with the Philistines and brings it to what would become Jerusalem.

This is something that had been in David’s heart for a long time. He had been anointed as a young man to become king, then spent many many years in the wilderness awaiting for his destiny to be fulfilled, and finally mean King Saul dies. Now it is his moment and the first thing he wants to do is go get that ark and bring it back where it belongs. 

2 Samuel 6:1-5
David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand.
2 He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark.
3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it.
5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

So they sent a moving van to go pick up the ark. They have a parade along the route, they’re rejoicing, and celebrating. It was a worship blow-out.

2 Samuel 6:6-8

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.


8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

David was bummed out. Words like “upset, fearful, anxious, and depressed” would describe his feelings about this failure.

9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.

So what happened?

David was either ignorant of or ignored the command of scripture. His mistake, his epic fail was presumption.

First, any good Jewish boy who studied the Torah would know that the ark was only to be moved by the Levites, who carried it with poles inserted through rings in the sides of the ark, not a on a cart (Exodus 25:12-15).

Second, none of the holy things was to be touched, on penalty of death (Numbers 4:15). That explains why Uzzzah was instantly killed when he reached up to steady the ark with his hands.

So the first principle here is “You gotta do God’s work, God’s way.”

The other principle for us as worship volunteers is to take this seriously. Often times we may have a casual or even flippant attitudes about how we approach we our leadership of worship.

The rest of the story.

1 Chronicles 15:12-15
12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the Levitical families; you and your fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. 13 It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” 14 So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel.
15 And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord.

David organizes the Levites. He has them consecrate and purify themselves. They moved the Ark of the covenant “on poles as Moses had commanded”.

And he has a much better result.

It was a very happy ending with extravagant, joyful worship and David composed fabulous new songs. Read all about it in 1 Chronicles chapters 15 and 16.

What are the lessons?

1.  Well …. Don’t presume upon God when it comes to worship.

2. When you do God’s work, God’s way, you can expect His blessing. But, when you violate that principle and don’t do God’s work God’s way, you can’t expect His blessing.

Psalm 127 says that “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1). That’s another way of saying, “do God’s work, God’s way.”

3. Though we live in the age of grace, it is still quite important to know what the Word of God teaches about worship.

A Challenge For You.

So I have a challenge for those of us who play our instruments, or sing with our voices, or turn knobs and faders and computers … and that is … to know your Bible! This is true for all of us.


So you can know God and His ways. The place to start is of course, scripture.

As Paul instructed his protege Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

I also like the New Living Translation:  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

So our challenge to know what the word says, especially about worship.

Responses To Scripture

How are we to respond to the revelation of God’s word once we engage with it? Here are nine possible responses that we can apply and act upon.

1. Is there a Sin to avoid, forsake or confess?
2. Is there a Promise to believe or condition to meet in order to receive the promise?
3.Is there an Attitude to change or guard against or an Action I need to take?
4. Is there a Command to keep?
5. Is there an Example to follow?
6. Is there a Prayer to pray or a Priority to change?
7. Is there an Error to avoid?
8. Is there a Truth to memorize and meditate upon ?
9. Is there Something to thank or praise God for?


From the story of David and the Ark, which of these nine responses connect with you? How might these lessons shape who you are and what you do today?

[Note: This is a 6 part blog series based on a recent webinar workshop I taught for WorshipTeamCoach.com entitled “Five Epic Worship Fails and we can learn from them.” It is intended to be used as a biblical training resource for your worship team. These are offered as a series of short videos (5 to 10 minutes each) with a study guide and questions you can use to facilitate conversations for growth. You can find that a replay of the original webinar and a link the resource here: Five Epic Worship Fails Replay. ]