Summary: Kings of Judah, Pt. 6
THE BIG, BIG “I” (2 CHRONICLES 26)
Two ladies were walking home from church one Sunday morning. “Tell me, what do you consider your worst sin?”
“Well, I must admit my worst sin is vanity. I sit in front of the mirror for hours just admiring my beauty.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much,” replied her friend. “That isn’t vanity. It’s just your imagination.” (Adapted from Toastmaster General’s Favorite Jokes 215, George Jessel, Secaucus, NJ: Castle Books, 1973)
The Bible specifically says that pride is the devil’s essence and sin; it is the lot and ruin of eight people groups such as the Amorites (Amos 2:9), the Edomites (Obad 3), the Moabites (Isa 16:6), the Egyptians (Ezek 32:12), the Philistines (Zech 9:6), the Assyrians (Zech 10:11), the Babylonians (Jer 50:31-32) and the Israelites (Jer 13:8), and the disgrace and demise of wicked man. Psalms 10:4-6 says, “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, ‘Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.’”
If you do not know the history or detect a pattern by now, many good kings were laid low by pride. The longest reigning good king of the southern Judah could have ruled longer and broken records but his reign was cut short by pride. Uzziah was nothing short of a remarkable, reliable and resourceful king – nothing short of excellent, outstanding and superb, but pride fell him!
How can we keep our pride in check? What are we to do when our ego and extravagance are overblown?
Be Open, And Not Oppositional, To Attract Success
26:1 Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. 2 He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah after Amaziah rested with his fathers. 3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jecoliah; she was from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. 5 He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success. 6 He went to war against the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. He then rebuilt towns near Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. 7 God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabs who lived in Gur Baal and against the Meunites. 8 The Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful. (2 Chron 26:1-8)
Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, has been called America’s #1 Manager and one of the greatest corporate leaders in America, making his company the most valuable company in the world. Fortune magazine asked Welch on its 75th anniversary the best advice he ever got. Welch has this to say:
“It was in 1979 or 1980. I was on the board of GE for the first time. And I was in Seattle for one of those three-day director meetings. I had just gone to my first or second board meeting, and at a party for the directors afterwards, Paul Astin, the former chairman of Coke, came up to me. He was a reserved, formal man. Anyway he must have noticed my starched shirt and how quiet I was in the meeting. I was all prim and proper. He said to me, ‘Jack, don’t forget who you are and how you got here.’” (“The Best Advice I Ever Got,” Fortune 3/21/05).
One of the most educated, powerful and confident kings in Judah’s history was King Uzziah. A precocious teen, he was more than capable of filling the shoes of his father, Amaziah. He held his own for 52 long years, the longest of the eight good southern kings. Prophets were more than eager to instruct the young king, who made the initiative to seek God. The young king had a good attitude and was willing to listen to the advice of another Zechariah the prophet, not the major prophet. The word “sought” appears twice in verse 5.
Uzziah was as old-fashioned a king as any. He followed in the shoes of the first godly kings of Asa (2 Chron 14:4, 7, 2 Chron 15:2, 12, 13) and Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 17:4), who were known for seeking God. Like Asa (2 Chron 14:7) and Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 20:20), Uzziah had unparalleled success when he sought God. The Philistines had brought tribute to Judah at the height of Jehoshaphat’s reign (2 Chron 17:11), but shortly after his death they, along with the Arabs, put Judah to shame and almost ended the kingdom. They had attacked Judah, invaded it and carried off all the goods found in the king’s palace, along with the king’s sons and wives, leaving only Uzziah’s great-grandfather, the youngest son, Ahaziah, behind with his weak reigning father and king Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 21:16-17). For more than four generations (2 Chron 21:20, 22:2, 22:12, 24:1, 25:1) and 80 years Judah could not break the Philistines, who wisely formed an unbreakable and impregnable alliance with the Arabs for decades. The score was never settled for decades, or close to a century. In fact, since David last defeated the Philistines (1 Chron 20:5), no king got close. The Philistines had brought tribute to Jehoshaphat but Jehoshaphat had never defeated them.