Uzziah Rules in Judah
1 All the people of Judah had crowned Amaziah’s sixteen-year-old son, Uzziah, as king in place of his father. 2After his father’s death, Uzziah rebuilt the town of Elath and restored it to Judah.
3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. 5 Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God. And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.
I think I would have liked Uzziah. We read of him seeking God, building the nation’s strength, receiving tribute, winning in war, enjoying peace, and farming! Here is a man with the big picture in mind, and a wide range of interests.
6 Uzziah declared war on the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod. Then he built new towns in the Ashdod area and in other parts of Philistia. 7 God helped him in his wars against the Philistines, his battles with the Arabs of Gur, and his wars with the Meunites. 8 The Meunites paid annual tribute to him, and his fame spread even to Egypt, for he had become very powerful.
9 Uzziah built fortified towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the angle in the wall. 10 He also constructed forts in the wilderness and dug many water cisterns, because he kept great herds of livestock in the foothills of Judah and on the plains. He was also a man who loved the soil. He had many workers who cared for his farms and vineyards, both on the hillsides and in the fertile valleys.
11 Uzziah had an army of well-trained warriors, ready to march into battle, unit by unit. This army had been mustered and organized by Jeiel, the secretary of the army, and his assistant, Maaseiah. They were under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s officials. 12 These regiments of mighty warriors were commanded by 2,600 clan leaders. 13 The army consisted of 307,500 men, all elite troops. They were prepared to assist the king against any enemy.
14 Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and sling stones. 15 And he built structures on the walls of Jerusalem, designed by experts to protect those who shot arrows and hurled large stones from the towers and the corners of the wall. His fame spread far and wide, for the Lord gave him marvelous help, and he became very powerful.
Uzziah’s Sin and Punishment
16 But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar.
Azariah violated what had become a general principle in God’s dealing with Israel: that no king should also be a priest, and that the offices of prophet, priest, and king should not be combined in one man – until the Messiah, who fulfilled all three offices.
17 Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the Lord, all brave men. 18They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The Lord God will not honor you for this!”
19 Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious. But as he was standing there raging at the priests before the incense altar in the Lord’s Temple, leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the Lord had struck him. 21 So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord.
22 The rest of the events of Uzziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz.
This connection between Isaiah and Uzziah is noted in Isaiah 6:1, when the death of the king contributed to the call of the prophet: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne.
It is important to consider the reign of Uzziah in totality:
- He began his reign at only 16 years of age.
- He reigned for 52 years.
- Overall, he was a good and strong king who led Israel to many military victories and who was an energetic builder and planner.
- Despite all this, Uzziah had a tragic end.
Therefore, when Isaiah wrote that he was called in the year King Uzziah died, he said a lot. It is to say, “In the year a great and wise king died.” But it is also to say, “In the year a great and wise king who had a tragic end died.” Isaiah had great reason to be discouraged and disillusioned at the death of King Uzziah, because a great king had passed away, and because his life ended tragically. Yet despite it all, he saw the enthroned Lord God who was greater than any earthly king.
23 When Uzziah died, he was buried with his ancestors; his grave was in a nearby burial field belonging to the kings, for the people said, “He had leprosy.” And his son Jotham became the next king.
In a Russian Orthodox monastery located on the Mount of Olives, an inscription was discovered in 1931 bearing the name of King Uzziah. The inscription reads: “To this place, the remains of Uzziah, King of Judah, were placed. Do not disturb.”
This is a valuable non-biblical reference to the existence of a king of David’s line. The plaque is now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem Collection.
It is my hope that during those last years, Uzziah repented of his pride and confessed it as sin to the Lord. God, of course, would have welcomed him back and perhaps worked further goodness and righteousness into Uzziah! And isn’t that a pattern for us all? We confess our sin, and God works in us to bring forth fruits of the spirit and the image of Christ!
HERE is “Amen,” by Bob Fitts, which expresses the same idea. Who knows, maybe some day we will be singing AMEN to Christ together with Uzziah!
For every good thing
God is doing within me
That I cannot see
A – men
And to the healing virtue of Jesus
That’s flowing in me
A – men
For every hope that is still just a dream
By trusting You Lord it becomes reality
I stake my claim seal it in faith
I say amen
So be it Lord
Your Word endures
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.