This is a short account of the reign of Azariah. 1. Most of it is general, and the same that has been given of others; he began young and reigned long (2 Kgs. 15:2), did, for the most part, that which was right, 2 Kgs. 15:3 (it was happy for the kingdom that a good reign was a long one), only he had not zeal and courage enough to take away the high places, 2 Kgs. 15:4. 2. That which is peculiar, 2 Kgs. 15:5 (that God smote him with a leprosy) is more largely related, with the occasion of it, 2 Chron. 26:16-21, where we have also a fuller account of the glories of the former part of his reign, as well as of the disgraces of the latter part of it. He did that which was right, as Amaziah had done; like him, he began well, but failed before he finished. Here we are told, (1.) That he was a leper. The greatest of men are not only subject to the common calamities, but also to the common infirmities, of human nature; and, if they be guilty of any heinous sin, they lie as open as the meanest to the most grievous strokes of divine vengeance. (2.) God smote him with this leprosy, to chastise him for his presumptuous invasion of the priests’ office. If great men be proud men, some way or other God will humble them, and make them know he is both above them and against them, for he resisteth the proud. (3.) That he was a leper to the day of his death. Though we have reason to think he repented and the sin was pardoned, yet, for warning to others, he was continued under this mark of God’s displeasure as long as he lived, and perhaps it was for the good of his soul that he was so. (4.) That he dwelt in a separate house, as being made ceremonially unclean by the law, to the discipline of which, though a king, he must submit. He that presumptuously intruded into God’s temple, and pretended to be a priest, was justly shut out from his own palace, and shut up as a prisoner or recluse, ever after. We suppose that his separate house was made as convenient and agreeable as might be. Some translate it a free house, where he had liberty to take his pleasure. However, it was a great mortification to one that had been so much a man of honour, and a man of business, as he had been, to be cut off from society and dwell always in a separate house: it would almost make life itself a burden, even to kings, though they have never any to converse with but their inferiors; the most contemplative men would soon be weary of it. (5.) That his son was his viceroy in the affairs both of his court (for he was over the house) and of his kingdom (for he was judging the people of the land); and it was both a comfort to him and a blessing to his kingdom that he had such a son to fill up his room.
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