Merriam Webster defines CHARACTER as: a) one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual, b) moral excellence and firmness, or c) main or essential nature especially as strongly marked and serving to distinguish. Some define it in one word, "reputation". When we speak of the "character of God", we can use the same definitions.
I teach a teen-aged Sunday School class each Sunday. This past Sunday I taught on the story of Uzza (or Uzzah). This account is actually found two places in the Bible, (I Chronicles 13 and II Samuel 6), which I find makes it doubly important that we understand what is written. The account, though troubled as David as I read, gives us a glimpse of the true character of God.
David inquires of the leaders of Israel about their feelings on bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem as it had been displaced for several years. Everyone agrees, and a new ox cart is built to transport the artifact back to their homeland. David gathers musicians to play as Abinidab's sons, Ahio and Uzza, drive the oxen, with the Ark aboard. But, during the transfer, an ox stumbles, the load shifts and Uzza immediately puts his hand on the Ark to stabilize the load. God's anger was kindled against Uzza for his error, touching the Ark, and struck him dead on the spot, beside the cart.
David was very displeased that God had acted in such a terrible way for Uzza was just trying to prevent the Ark from falling. And, as I said before, upon reading, I felt much like David, feeling sympathy for dearly departed Uzza. But, in verse two of chapter 15 of I Chronicles, David realizes his mistake, "Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever." In Exodus 25 God had given Moses instructions on how the Ark should be transported, using the staves through rings on the side of the Ark, and only carried on the shoulders of the Levites. David might as well thrown the Ark in the back of a U-haul. God was displeased and David, now, knew what he had done. His selfish and careless actions alone had caused the death of Uzza.
We must realize, like David, God is holy and is sovereign. He does not need our agreement, acceptance or permission. If God gives an instruction, it must be carried out just as He said. If not, the punishment dictated will be the punishment served. He is a JUST Judge. Think of it like this, if God did not follow through with his punishment, how could we trust Him at His word. (Much like a parent that keeps letting us off the hook for not taking the trash out, how could we believe that we would ever be truly grounded.) I do not believe that God wanted to strike down Uzza, but, His character demanded that He do so. God is HOLY and deserves to be respected and obeyed. If He says to do it, we should do it. If He says not to do it, we ought not to do it.
This account of Uzza's error is not the only time God had to stand behind His word. Adam and Eve in the garden decide to throw God's instructions aside and do what pleases them, God's word says because they disobeyed, they will die and they do. Noah preached that rain was coming. And, after following God's instructions to build a large ark, the rains came just as He said. His people were told to multiply the earth and they chose to disobey, stay in one place and build a tower to themselves, God scattered them and divided the earth. The Bible is filled with acts of God that prove His character over and over, including the prophecy of His only Son, Jesus, coming and dying on a cross for me and you. He said it, it came to pass.
It is because of that "attribute", that "moral excellence", that "essential nature", and, that "reputation" of God, that makes it possible for us to believe and trust in Him. No matter how cruel or insignificant it may seem to us, we must understand that God is always true to His Word. He loves us and wants the best for us. His character testifies of this. He is worthy to be praised.