“But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. So Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him were eighty priests of the Lord--valiant men. And they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the Lord God’" (2 Chronicles 26:16-18).
King Uzziah reigned for 52 years over the land of Judah. During most of his reign he was faithful in serving the Lord and in strengthening his kingdom against his enemies. This is the testimony that is given about him: “He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5).
The kingdom of Judah during King Uzziah’s reign grew stronger and stronger. He defeated the Philistines, Arabians, and the Meunites. Other nations such as the Ammonites brought him tribute because they desired to keep peace with him because they feared him. He fortified the lands defenses. Furthermore, he had a powerful army which was finely equipped with weapons and armor. In addition, he had developed the latest technological devices for his army to use which were invented by his skillful men. His fame spread throughout the countries (2 Chronicles 26:6-15). God had “marvelously helped” him till he became strong (2 Chronicles 26:15).
This should have been a time for great rejoicing for God’s showering His blessings upon His people. Unfortunately, something happened within King Uzziah’s heart that created a greater problem for him than all the enemies could which surrounded him. “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense” (2 Chronicles 26:16). Uzziah had gotten “too big for his britches”. He let all the success he had experienced as a result of God’s blessings “go to his head”. He became puffed up to the point of thinking he was worthy to burn incense in the temple of the Lord. Burning incense in the temple was a task which God had specifically reserved for the priest (2 Chronicles 26:17-18; Exodus 30:7-8). Following this, God strikes Uzziah with leprosy and the king will completely cut off from going anywhere near the temple of the Lord because he was a leper till the day off his death (2 Chronicles 26:19-23).
As I read these verses, I think of the challenges I face in keeping humble when God has blessed me with success. It is relatively easy for me to not boast when I am struggling and not enjoying achievements. During these times I constantly look to God to provide my daily bread and long for Him to intervene to help me. I am continually aware of my own weaknesses and my need for God’s strength during such times. However, when I have been blessed with a number of victories, Satan sneaks in and tempts me into thinking the success I enjoy is because of my intellect, my abilities, and my own hard work. When I give into this temptation and allow my heart to be lifted up, God, through His loving care, often chastens me to bring me back to my senses (Hebrews 12:5-6). Today, I will be vigilant to be on guard during my times of triumph. For I realize that although such should be times of rejoicing, I am also aware during such occasions Satan will be trying to tempt me to commit the sin of pride. I will strive to not allow my heart to be lifted up when God blesses me with success!
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Proverbs 16:18-19).