Uzziah [Ŭzzī'ah]—strength of the lord.
This renowned Uzziah, or Azariah, as he is sometimes called, demands more attention (2 Kings 15:13, 30-34; 2 Chron. 26; 27:2; Isa. 1:1; 6:1; 7:1; Hos. 1:1; Amos 1:1; Zech. 14:5). His story can be gathered around three aspects:
I. His prosperity. Uzziah ascended the throne at the age of sixteen years, and it is said that “his mother’s name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.” These words, “his mother’s name,” are found about thirty times in Kings and Chronicles, and seem to indicate that the mother largely determined the character and conduct of the son. See 2 Kings 8:26; 12:1; 14:2.
Of Uzziah it is written that “as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper” (see 1 Chron. 28:9; Ps. 69:32). As a king of Judah, Uzziah is remembered principally for the era of prosperity which prevailed during his reign. He reigned for fifty-two years, and a graphic account of what he accomplished for Judah has been preserved (2 Chron. 26). Under Uzziah, Jerusalem was adorned with many and costly improvements, to which her citizens pointed with patriotic pride.
II. His pride. God finds it difficult to entrust prosperity to many of His people. It turns their heads and leads to pride as with Uzziah, of whom it is also said, “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction.” The king’s special sin was a rash intrusion into the priest’s office, and in this he was a type of the antichrist of the last days (Exod. 30:7, 8; Dan. 11:36, 37; 2 Thess. 2:3, 4). The king usurped the function of the chief priest and offered incense. Religiously, Uzziah is classed among the good kings (2 Kings 15:1, 3), and had he been content to remain a good king, all would have been well.
III. His punishment. For his intrusion into the sacred duties of the priesthood, Uzziah was smitten with leprosy, and had to withdraw from public affairs, his son Jotham acting as his representative (2 Kings 15:5). The leprous condition was an appropriate expression of God’s indignation at Uzziah’s presumption (see Exod. 4:6; Lev. 13:3, 12, 13, 25; Luke 4:27). Ultimately, he went to a leper’s grave, but in the year the leper king died, Isaiah, who had looked upon Uzziah as his hero-king, had a vision that transformed his life and ministry (Isa. 6).
Thus Uzziah is a blazing warning against the spiritual pride that brings presumption (2 Chron. 26:16-21). Such a warning is needed today when the two chief snares of Satan for the servants of God seem to be spiritual pride and fleshly lust.