Daily Devotions

The godly Uzziah sinned and died of leprosy

Second Chronicles 26:1-21

’16 years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned 52 years…. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord…. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up — to his destruction. For he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar…. Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him 80 priests of the Lord that were valiant men…. They withstood Uzziah the king, and said to him: “It does not appertain to you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord — but to the priests…that are consecrated to burn incense! Get out of the sanctuary!”… ThenUzziah was wroth…, and while he was wroth with the priests…, leprosy…rose up on his forehead…. And Uzziah the king was a leper to the day of his death…. So Uzziah fell asleep with his fathers, and they buried him….in the field…. For they said: “He is a leper!”‘ Second Chronicles 26:3-23.

Uzziah died when 68. He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. And in the days when he sought Jehovah, God gave him success (Second Chronicles 26:5).

King Uzziah raised the Kingdom of Judah to greater worldly power and prosperity. This is confirmed by the portrayal of the might and greatness of Judah in the prophecies of Isaiah (1:1f), which date from the time of Uzziah. He designed catapults to propel great stones in defence of Jerusalem. For he was marvellously helped, when strong (Second Chronicles 26:15).

But when Uzziah had become mighty, his heart was lifted up in pride unto destructive deeds. He transgressed against Jehovah his God, and came into the sanctuary to offer incense upon the altar. With a lofty feeling of his power, he wished to make himself also High Priest of his kingdom!

David and Solomon had never interfered in any way with the official duties reserved for the priests. King Uzziah’s purpose was consequently opposed by the High Priest Azariah and 80 valiant priests, who had the courage to represent to Uzziah that to burn incense to the Lord in His temple did not appertain to the king but only to the sanctified priests.

But the king was angry — until leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead. When the priests saw the leprosy, they removed the king immediately from the holy place. And Uzziah himself also hurried to go forth, because Jehovah had smitten him. For he recognized in the sudden breaking out of the leprosy, the punishment of God.

Uzziah had to bear this punishment till his death. He dwelt the rest of his life in a separate house, while his son conducted the government for him. The reason for the separation of the king from intercourse with others by his dwelling in hospital, is given in the words ‘for he was shut out from the house of Jehovah.’

At his death, Uzziah — having died of leprosy — was not buried in the graves of the kings, but only in a field in their neighbourhood. So that his body might not defile the royal graves. Yes, the once godly Uzziah sinned — and died of leprosy. But Christ healed lepers, and took him to glory!