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Did God really kill someone because they didn’t follow the ark transportation rules?


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.  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.” So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. 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.
            Yes.  Remember, the first sin in the garden started with someone not following the rules.  It still continues to this day.  Moses’ law made it very clear how to transport the ark (Exodus 25, 39, 40).  To put the ark on an ox cart showed disrespect.  It would not have stumbled with the priests carrying it the way it needed to be carried.
            Falling short of the glory of God always leads to death.  David should not have been surprised.