Sixteen years old and king. Better than The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Uzziah was King of Judah.
Upon his father’s death, Uzziah was the people’s choice to become the tenth King of Judah. Rebuilding what had fallen during his father’s reign was a great start (2 Kings 14:21-22). Expanding the kingdom through a series of military conquests, Uzziah became famous as far away as Egypt. He strengthened and fortified the kingdom with new infrastructure. His army was highly organized and powerful, even developing impressive new weapons technology (2 Chronicles 26:6-15).
“His fame spread far and wide,” says 2 Chronicles 26:15 NIV.
And, as the HCSB translates the same verse, “He was marvelously helped.” By Sovereign God.
Until. Until you read the next phrase, “Until he became strong.”
Reading on as the NASB translates verse 16, “But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God.”
Or as the NLT translates, “But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God.”
Strength became arrogance. Power became pride. Arrogance and pride bred sin.
Strength and power are morally neutral; they can be agents of good or bad equally as easily. It is the person who posses them who determines their application.
Uzziah got too big for his britches. He was King. A sovereign ruler. But he defied God. The Sovereign of All Creation.
Was personal power his tipping point? Or was there more?
There was more. For a long time, but not always. A ballast. A ground. An anchor. A guide. A lesson for us.
2 Chronicles 26:5 tells us that Uzziah “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.”
Uzziah had accountability in the form of Zechariah the Prophet. Presumably older, Zechariah, was a mentor, a discipler, a spiritual director, and advisor to Uzziah. As long as Zechariah was around, as long as Uzziah sought a personal relationship with God, then Uzziah was prospered marvelously.
No checks, no accountability, no spiritual guidance, no Zechariah and then Uzziah—intoxicated with strength and mistaking God’s blessings for his own power—hastened his own downfall. Uzziah directly affronted God, was cursed with leprosy, and was separated from everyone for the remainder of his life. He lost his throne. He lost it all.
What can we learn from Uzziah and Zechariah?
A leader’s power is like electric power; it is destructive unless controlled.
- What are the controls in your life?
- Who are you accountable to?
- What are you accountable to them for?
- How often do you seek accountable guidance?
- How humbly do you respond to such guidance?
You may not see yourself as powerful or strong, but you need guidance just the same. Humbly seek accountability that you might be marvelously helped.
(Image, The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy, Rembrandt)