Summary: Uzziah was blessed beyond measure ... until he grew strong. His life, and his actions when he grew strong, serve as a warning to the Christian to beware of depending on oneself rather than depending on the Lord.

“In Jerusalem [Uzziah] made machines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.

“But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.” [1], [2]

Uzziah, also known as Azariah, was arguably counted as one of the greatest kings to rule Judah. Despite international respect for his wise reign, and despite the glorious heights to which he guided the nation, he died in ignominy. Excluded from the Temple, unable to rule from his throne, forced to live in a separate house the king ended his days without experiencing warm companionship, without the courtiers to whom he had grown accustomed, without feeling a human touch in his final hours, without anyone to soothe his fevered brow in his final hours. This was his fate despite his might, despite growing strong; his life ended in this fashion because he was unable to rule his own heart.

God warned Israel through Moses, “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God” [DEUTERONOMY 8:11-20]. It is never a good thing to disregard God’s warning.

UZZIAH’S MIGHT — “In Jerusalem [Uzziah] made machines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones” [2 CHRONICLES 26:15a]. His fame spread because of all he accomplished. Uzziah became ruler of Judah when he was but sixteen years of age. For fifty-two years he reigned in Jerusalem. During that time, and especially during the early days of his reign, Uzziah accomplished some significant tasks.

The Chronicler reveals the secret for the success Uzziah experienced during his reign. “[Uzziah] did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper” [2 CHRONICLES 26:4, 5].

I need to take a moment to note something that I had never noticed before. I read in this fifth verse that “[Uzziah] set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God” [2 CHRONICLES 26:5a]. I read the name Zechariah, a man denoted as instructing the young king in the fear of the LORD. I cannot help but wonder who this man might have been. My curiosity drove me to invest time researching who Zechariah might have been. In the previous chapter we meet an unnamed prophet [see 2 CHRONICLES 25:15, 16]. This prophet boldly rebuked Amaziah the king when he dishonoured God. We also read of someone, perhaps the same man, who is identified as a “man of God,” who counselled Amaziah when he had attempted to hire Ephraimites to serve as mercenaries in his army [see 2 CHRONICLES 25:9]. Amaziah, though ending his days in disgrace, had people around him who attempted to direct him to walk in the straight paths of the LORD.

When Amaziah was assassinated because he had turned away from the LORD, Uzziah his son ascended to the throne. The young man was blessed by the presence of a godly man who instructed him in the fear of the LORD. It is quite possible that this was the “prophet” who rebuked Uzziah’s father and that he was also the “man of God” who provided sound counsel to depend on the LORD for success—counsel that Amaziah ultimately rejected. My purpose in emphasising this man at this point is to encourage the people of God.

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