Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Sorrow of Arrogance

“But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his own destruction.” (2 Chronicles 26:16)

King Uzziah’s reign in Jerusalem was bittersweet. On one hand he was one of the more effective kings of Judah. He ruled for 52 years beginning at age 16, and in the early half of his reign he did what was right. He sought the Lord, and the Lord gave him success. He defeated the Philistines and brought peace. Judah was marked by prosperity. He enlarged the military and grew powerful.

Uzziah’s strength became his weakness, however, when he allowed his pride to grow into arrogance as he took credit for his own success. His arrogance developed into presumption, which we then see when he entered the Lord’s temple himself to burn incense on the altar before the Lord. Only the priests were allowed to do this, and when they confronted him, he was enraged. God had the final word in the conflict. He inflicted King Uzziah with leprosy. Uzziah then had to live the remainder of his life in quarantine.

In spite of everything, God brought good from this. A young priest by the name of Isaiah was serving in the temple when it became apparent that Uzziah would not live much longer. He wrote of this in part in Isaiah 6, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and lifted up.” Isaiah went on to become a prophet. He wrote the history of Uzziah’s life and probably developed a close personal relationship with him in the process. The humility of Uzziah’s later years no doubt had a profound impact on Isaiah, as did Uzziah’s death when it came.

We learn two truths from Uzziah’s life. First, we see a warning against pride, which can lead to arrogance and presumption. Scripture counsels us to stay away from pride, because it always leads to some sort of fall.

Second, we see an admonition toward humility. Humility happens when we humble ourselves before the Lord, place ourselves in a learning mode, and walk with the Lord in dependence on Him and in the recognition of our dependence on Him. Scripture counsels us to pursue this direction.

Lord, Help us each day to turn away from pride, arrogance, and presumption and instead pursue humility, dependence on You, and walking with You. Amen.

No comments: