By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 25-28
Key Scripture Verse: 2 Chronicles 26:16 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.”
Our scripture readings report the history of the Israelites and the succession of several kings and their reigns, sometimes reflecting how the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah would fight each other, God’s displeasure with his chosen people when they do not trust him in faith but worship idols instead. But, what strikes me about the succession of kings in these passages is how so many of the kings were successful for a time, following God’s decrees, but then develop some level of complacency in their work, develop a level of ingratitude, and in Uzziah’s case, pride—he was so successful as king that he forgot that his power, his strength, his intellect, and his wisdom came from God.
Uzziah was a sharp person. In his early years he pleased God in his reign over the people. The NIV, Life Application Bible’s profile of Uzziah indicates that he was an organizer, a successful leader who could choose good support staff and could delegate responsibilities and oversee tasks with appropriate follow-through. He was a good leader. He was a good warrior and protector of his people. He was also able to build cities and rebuild those that had been destroyed in battle. He was even an inventor—he invented devices on towers to facilitate protecting his soldiers while at the same time allowing them to shoot arrows and hurl stones from the walls.
But, Uzziah eventually fell from God’s grace, because he forgot that all of his gifts of intellect, creativity, leadership, and physical strength were gifts from God.
Uzziah was known all around the region for his leadership and his power, enjoying great fame. And he became quite prideful of all that he had accomplished. The commentary indicates that there is no recording that Uzziah ever thanked God for all that he had done for him.
I suppose that Uzziah started to believe in himself—that he started to believe that he was all powerful and that nothing could keep him down. He likely started to believe that his power came from within and that he was invincible. He didn’t give God the credit for his accomplishments.
It’s even worse than that—Uzziah started to overstep his boundaries. He had been unfaithful to God, but entered the temple and started to burn incense. Uzziah thought he could do whatever he wanted to, even though only the Levite priests were allowed to burn incense in the temple to the Lord. When he started acting as if he were a consecrated priest, the priests confronted him and told him to leave, that he would not be honored by God because of his unfaithful behaviors.
Uzziah created a scene and in his anger he raged against the priests right there in the temple at the altar of incense. And God had had enough of his haughty behavior and allowed him to break out in leprosy. Then not only did the priests want him out of there, he wanted to leave the temple and quickly allowed himself to be hurried out of there.
Uzziah had leprosy the rest of his days, was isolated from the people in a separate house, was banned from the temple, and his son was made king in his place.
How often we have seen this—a person in power starts to get too prideful and then oversteps boundaries, taking liberties with the law, liberties with moral and ethical issues, believing that he is “above the law.” It doesn’t end well.
It’s a lesson for us all. All good things come from God. When God blesses us, those gifts are meant for doing good, for honoring him, for loving others. When we get greedy and when we start to believe we are the source of goodness, we are acting as if we believe we are God.
May we adopt an attitude of gratitude, an attitude of humility and thankfulness, remembering that the Holy Trinity is the source of any good in us and that, in and of ourselves, we can do nothing without God. To God be all the glory.