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CRITICAL NOTES.] Uzziah’s character (2 Chronicles 26:1-6). “It is not too much to say that we are indebted to Chronicles for our whole conception of the character of Uz., and for nearly our whole knowledge of the events of his reign” [Speak. Com.]. Uz.’s fame and achievements (2 Chronicles 26:6-15); U.’s sin (2 Chronicles 26:16-21); U.’s end (2 Chronicles 26:22-23). Parallel to this in 2 Kings 14:21-22; 2 Kings 15:1-7.
2 Chronicles 26:1-5.—Uz.’s character. Azariah (help from Jehovah) in Kings. Uz. usual form (strength from Jehovah). Eloth, an important port (2 Kings 14:22). 2 Chronicles 26:5. Days of Z., who sustained relation Uz., as Jehoiada to Joash, exercising salutary influence and guiding.
2 Chronicles 26:6-15.—Uz’s. fame and achievements. Not in Kings. Jab., Jabneal (Joshua 15:11). Dismantling of these, and building of other cities among the Philistines, is a restoration of things in time of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:11). 2 Chronicles 26:8. Ammonites. Countries east of Jordan became tributaries, and by rapid success of victories his kingdom advanced to Egyptian frontier (cf. Isaiah 16:1-5 with 2 Kings 3:4). 2 Chronicles 26:9-10. Buildings, towers in the wilderness—i.e., held pasturage on borders of Holy Land as refuges for flocks and herdsmen. Wells (cut out many cisterns) from rook. Low country between hills of Judæa and sea. Plains east of Jordan. Carmel, not the mountain, but cultivated portions of hill tract. Husb., cultivated agriculture and arts of peace. 2 Chronicles 26:11-15. Army and engines of war. 2 Chronicles 26:11. Men, a body of militia divided into companies or regiments, which served in rotation. 2 Chronicles 26:12. Number of chiefs, heads of families, occupying positions over the army. 2 Chronicles 26:13. The number of troops does not exceed that in time of Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:5). 2 Chronicles 26:14. Different weapons for different classes of men. 2 Chronicles 26:16. Engines, machines for discharging missiles; the balista for stones, and catapult for arrows or darts.
2 Chronicles 26:16-21.—U.’s sin and punishment. Lift up to do wickedly, in pride. Priests only permitted to enter holy place (Numbers 18:7). U. presumed to act as neighbouring princes. High priest remonstrated, and intended to expel or hinder by force. 2 Chronicles 26:19. U. angry was struck suddenly with leprosy. 2 Chronicles 26:20. Hasted, in fear of death denounced upon those who invaded priest’s office. 2 Chronicles 26:21. Several, separate, lit, the house of liberation, an infirmary; he was excluded from communion.
2 Chronicles 26:22-23. U.’s end. Isaiah took part in composing the records of the kingdom (chap 2 Chronicles 1:1; 2 Chronicles 6:6). “He cannot have been contemporary with Uz. as an adult for more than a very small portion of his long reign. Most critics regard him as about twenty when Uz. died. He must then have written his history of Uz.’s reign rather from documents and accounts of others, than from his own knowledge” [Speak. Com.]. 2 Chronicles 26:23. Field, i.e., in the burial ground, but in a separate sepulchre, as the corpse of a leper would have polluted it.
UZZIAH’S CHARACTER AND SUCCESSFUL REIGN.—2 Chronicles 26:1-15
The reign of U. was vigorous, and signally blessed. He was successful as a king, though he failed as a man.
I. Uzziah’s character is promising. Signs of ability and usefulness. Acts well as a ruler, and fills high office with credit to himself, and benefit to the nation.
1. He was active in promoting the interests of his kingdom. He overcame its enemies in south and west, strengthened its fortifications and commercial relations, was a patron of agriculture, cultivated vineyards, and protected flocks. He administered internal affairs with peace and prosperity.
2. For the greater part of his reign he lived in the fear of God. “Did right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 26:4). Never deserted the worship of the true God, and was much influenced by the prophet Zachariah. Happy in his guardian, “He sought God,” who made him to prosper.
II. Uzziah’s reign is successful. Success crowned all efforts and enterprises until fatal error blasted his life.
1. In its financial resources. Flocks, wells, husbandmen, vine-dressers, and foreign commerce.
2. In the extent of his dominion. He overcame the Philistines, and demolished their cities. “God helped him against the Arabians.” The Ammonites rendered tribute to him, and his conquest extended to the Egyptian frontier (2 Chronicles 26:8).
3. In the strength of his defences. Cities well fortified, military forces well organised, equipped, and commanded.
4. In the splendour of his fame. His name spread far and wide. Palmy days of David and Solomon seemed to return; failures of preceding reign wiped away. Judah possessed an active, enlightened, and prosperous king, who conducted himself as became viceroy of Jehovah, and prospered in all things. “His name spread far abroad, for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong” (2 Chronicles 26:15).
UZZIAH’S SIN AND PUNISHMENT.—2 Chronicles 26:16-21
Long and uniform prosperity a severe trial for any prince. Uzziah’s goodness gave way. “His heart was lifted up,” and he committed grievous sins, for which he suffered severe punishment.
I. Uzziah’s sins.
1. He was lifted up with pride. Elated with a splendid career, he forgot his position and was changed in spirit. “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up.” It is strength, not weakness, that makes proud and arrogant. Affliction and reverses humble. In Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar see fearful evils of pride. “By that sin fell the angels.”
2. He usurped the priestly function. He can do anything in his kingdom; perhaps thought priestly qualities were natural to royalty, and that in exercising them he revived suspended rights, and restored primitive custom. The intrusion a sin of great magnitude, “for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense,” &c.
3. He showed daring presumption. The act involved a claim to abrogate the priestly office, a defiance of ancient decree originating in rebellion of Korah: it was rebuked solemnly and signally, but U. defied and resisted opposition, was determined to minister, “took the censer and was wroth with the priests.”
“Pride is still aiming at the blessed abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods.” [Pope].
II. Uzziah’s punishment. “The Lord had smitten him.”
1. Retributive and severe. A leper—“a leper until the day of his death.” The crown lost, and his forehead stained with marks of guilt.
2. Deprived of his own function by invading the province of others. U. was obliged to recognise the authority which he despised; compelled to leave the palace by venturing into the priesthood, and had to dwell in a separate house, “like the slain that lie in the grave, whom Thou rememberest no more; and they are cut off from Thy hand.” Be content with your own place. Discharge your own duties without seeking to intrude into others. The leprous king is a warning to all that we are not to “minister to men in things pertaining to God” without permission. Step out of your lawful calling, you create disorder, play the fool, and bring destruction upon yourselves and others.
“God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordain’d to fill.”
Rightly to understand it remember what barriers he had to break before he could resolve to do it. He had to disregard the direct command of Jehovah, that priests alone could burn incense upon His altar; to despise the history of his people, to defy the holy name by which he himself was called. Therefore because his rebellion was so great, his defiance of correction and of God so flagrant, the Lord smote him, and he bore till death the mark of the curse that fell upon him.
I. We see here prosperity and pride. Mere worldly prosperity often the prelude to daring impiety. U., a good king, but a bad priest: not the priest whom God had chosen. Statecraft and policy have no claims to spiritual direction. Spirit of the gospel not that of a successful worldling, but that of a little child of the kingdom.
II. We see here pride and punishment. It is a part of God’s order of nature that bodily pains should often rebuke and reveal the workings of an ungodly soul. The solemn truth that pride and passion are destroyers of men, the remembrance of those destroyed by them, are admonitions to us. “Verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.”
III. Punishment and shame. Hope of Uzziah given in record of his hasting to go out of the temple. His proud heart broken; he was smitten with shame. A man not altogether lost while he can feel shame. God quickens “the sorrow of the world, which worketh death,” into “godly sorrow working repentance to salvation not to be repented of [Dr. A. Mackennal].
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 26:1. In this and the next ten chapters we have the histories of Uzziah and ten more kings of Judah, in whose days prophesied the most of the prophets, both major and minor; to whose writings these eleven chapters lend not a little light, and are therefore diligently to be read and heeded [Trapp].
2 Chronicles 26:15. Marvellously helped till strong. Two kinds of help, natural and supernatural.
1. A time when we cannot help ourselves. Infancy.
2. A time of growth when we can help ourselves. Youth, manhood.
3. When thus strong the supernatural help ceases. Not less provision made on that account. There is joy and co-operation with God. As an earthly father requires to be obeyed and served, beholds strength and disposition to co-operate, so the Heavenly Father, &c. [Dr. Matheson].
2 Chronicles 26:16. Lifted up.
1. By pride of money.
2. By pride of intellect.
3. By pride of wit [Thain Davidson]. Learn—I. The abominable nature of pride. A rivalry and robbery of God. The sin of Satan and unregenerate men generally. Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, &c. II. The awful transgression to which it leads. Transgressed and went into the temple. “Men would be angels, angels would be gods.” III. The power of God to abase and punish the proud. Honour and dominion, mind and body under God’s control. Reason dethroned, the countenance stamped with idiocy, when he pleases. Madness, leprosy, and death at his bidding. “Come, and it cometh.” Most exalted insignificant atoms before Him. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 26
2 Chronicles 26:8. His name spread abroad.
“Unblemished let me live, or die unknown;
O grant an honest fame, or grant me none”
2 Chronicles 26:16. Went into temple. We do not believe that the Christian ministry is any less Divine than the Levitical priesthood, or that the commission it bears is less clear and definite. The conclusion is, that the intrusion into it, an usurpation of its powers, or a violation of its order, be it by prince or peasant, by scholar or unlearned, by good men ignorantly, or by evil men presumptuously, cannot be anything else but offensive to God, and fruitful of mischief to mankind [R. Hallam, D.D.].
2 Chronicles 26:18. They withstood. When Theodosius, the Emperor, was at Thessalonica, in revenge for certain of his judges slain there, made a great slaughter among the people by his soldiers, who destroyed 7,000 citizens Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, heard to his great grief, and when the Emperor, afterwards returning to Milan, would have come, as his manner had been, to the holy assembly, he stoutly withstood him, saying, “With what face canst thou look upon Him who is Lord of all? With what feet canst thou enter His house, whom thou hast so deeply displeased? How canst thou receive His body with those hands so drenched in Christian blood? or drink His blood with that mouth that commanded such inhuman slaughter? Depart, therefore, and go not about to add one wickedness to another, but stand thou excommunicate, till by repentance thou hast obtained pardon of God, and given satisfaction to his offended people.” The good Emperor—religiously bred, knew well what was fit for a king to do and what for a bishop—returned to his palace, acknowledged the greatness of his sin, and spent eight months in weeping and lamentation; then coming to Ambrose, begged pardon and absolution, which, after many rebukes, he obtained [Trapp].
“This is truth the poet sings,
That a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remem bering happier things” [Tennyson].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 26". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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