THE REIGN OF UZZIAH
Uzziah, the son of Amaziah, took the throne of Judah when he was only 16 years old and reigned for 52 years. The first thing mentioned about him is the positive good work of building the city of Elath, bringing it back under Judah's authority. This was a good beginning. He did right in the Lord's eyes, as did his father Amaziah in the early stages of his reign (v.4).
Verse 5 indicates that Zechariah, evidently a priest who was a seer also, understanding "the visions of God," had some influence over Uzziah, who sought the Lord in the days of Zechariah. There was a Zechariah before him, who was killed at the command of Joash (ch.24:20-21), and a later Zechariah, a prophet whose book was named after him (Zechariah 1:1). But we know of no other mention of this prophet of verse 5. Uzziah sought the Lord and as long as he did so the Lord made him prosperous.
Following the positive work of building Elath, Uzziah also made war against the Philistines. If this sounds negative, it was still good work, for it speaks of our contending against the mere formality of Christian religion. The name Philistines means "wallowers." They had come from Egypt, as Israel had, but not through the Red Sea, which pictures redemption through the death of Christ. How many there are today who take the outward place of Christians, though they know nothing of being redeemed to God by the blood of Christ! Thus, we must contend, not against people, but against this formal, empty profession without reality. Uzziah did this, and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. For the walls that harbour mere formal religion are far better broken down, while walls that protect the true testimony of God should be kept intact. Uzziah also built cities in the vicinity of Ashdod and among the Philistines (v.6). These were a testimony to God in contrast to Philistine character.
Thus, because of Uzziah's faithfulness, God helped him in his victories over the Philistines, Arabians and Meunites (v.7). The Ammonites picture those who hold false, satanic doctrine. At certain times they gained some advantage over Israel, but not so when Uzziah reigned. Thus he became exceedingly strong.
He built towers in Jerusalem at points that might be comparatively weak (v.9). We too need watchtowers in places where the enemy is likely to take advantage of us. The towers themselves were fortified. Every precaution was to be taken for the protection of God's testimony. In fact, be also built towers in the desert. Why was this? Was it not to be aware of any approaching danger from the enemy? He was concerned, not only for the temple, but also for the welfare of the production of food from rural areas. He dug many wells for livestock in the lowlands and for farmers and vinedressers; in the mountains, for, as we are told, "he loved the soil" (v.10). This is unusual for a king, but it is certainly to his credit that he was diversified in his activities.
This diversity also included an army of warriors who were well organised by the instrumentality of Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah an officer under the authority of Hananiah, one of the king's captains (v.11), and the total number of chief officers under their authority was 2,600. In turn, under the officers' authority was an army of 307,500. Thus Uzziah was well prepared for war, having prepared for all the warriors shields, spears, helmets, body armour, bows and slingshots (vv.12-14). Also, for the protection of Jerusalem he had mechanised devices with which to shoot arrows and large stones from the towers on the wall. We today should be just as concerned for the protection of God's saints from evil. So scripture tells us, "he was marvellously helped till he became strong" (v.15).
FAILURE BECAUSE OF HIS OWN STRENGTH
How tragically sad was the abrupt fall of Uzziah from his place of power and dignity to one of disgrace and shame! His strength became his downfall. Though God had marvellously helped him, he forgot that it was God's help that made him strong, and he succumbed to his own pride. Did he not have the Word of God to tell him that only the priests of Aaron's line could enter into the sanctuary of the temple to burn incense? Yet he boldly entered there to burn incense (v.16).
Azariah, the high priest, and 80 other priests immediately followed Uzziah and faced him with the guilt of his action, ordering him out of the sanctuary (vv.17-18). If he had immediately humbled himself and left, he might have spared himself from the sudden infliction of leprosy, but he became furious. Since he was king, he no doubt felt insulted by their reproof. However, God immediately intervened by inflicting Uzziah with leprosy in his forehead. When the priests saw this they pushed him out of the place. In fact, he himself recognised he must leave because it was evident the Lord had brought this terrible judgment on him (v.20).
There was no reversing of this as there had been in the case of Miriam (Numbers 12:10-15), and Uzziah was isolated for the rest of his life, no longer able to act in a kingly capacity, nor to have anything to do with the temple. His son Jotham took his place as king. How long he lived following his leprosy outbreak we are not told, but at his death he was buried among his fathers, a recognition at least of his former faithfulness.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 26". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany