Marvelously Helped, Till Strong

“Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign…  And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.  He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper…

“God helped him against the Philistines and the Arabians and the Meunites. The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread.., for he became very strong. Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem… and fortified them. He built towers in the wilderness and cut out many cisterns, for he had large herds,.. and he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil. Moreover, Uzziah had an army of soldiers, fit for war… In Jerusalem he made machines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.

“But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar. Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the Lord who were men of valor, and they withstood King Uzziah and said, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests… Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God.’ Then Uzziah was angry.” 2 Chronicles 26:3-5,7-10a,11,15-19a

The Lord is generous and gracious in favor to His children. At an early age, king Uzziah sought Him, following his father’s example. With God’s help, he prospered with his military and bolstered his defenses, skills, and reputation. His fame spread throughout the region but began to seep its stain on his heart. It’s hard to know what exactly made him turn- a famous victory? An accolade or tribute? The ease of prosperity? A sense of having arrived, or being indispensable, or singularly important? Maybe it was a slow growing belief that he had done this himself.

His heart was not whole. The constant drip of success brought a trickle of pride that, unstopped, made its insidious way in and saturated his instincts and reason. He dabbled in what he had no right to touch, and his thickening callouses refused God-sent correction.

The Lord has His eye on mankind and our individual hearts. He delights to help, but will not share His glory. He recognizes the slow spread of pride, and goes after us in mercy and love. He longs to set us free from encroaching self-sufficiency so we are free indeed to keep Him first. (Isaiah 42:8; Zechariah 9:1b; John 2:24-25; 8:34,36)

Have I crept into that hideous and dangerous place of thinking too highly of myself, or that I own those things over which I am merely a steward? Where am I ignoring God’s warnings, His kind checks of conscience? Would I regularly practice gratitude, and state my insufficiency before His all-sufficiency? (Romans 12:3)

Lord, may I remember daily that every success is yours. May I trust wholly in Your help, and give You praise for every goodness from Your hand. May others always see and say that You have done it. (Psalm 22:30-31)

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