It is written in Proverbs, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). Pride even gets into the hearts and minds of the best among us; and that is never more clear to me than when I was reading in 2 Chronicles 18 – 31 this morning.
I read of several kings, three of which, Uzziah, Hezekiah, and Josiah were noted as “Doing what was right in the sight of the LORD”; and they did wonderful things to restore Judah and Jerusalem to the right worship of the LORD. The LORD prospered them, the nation and the city because of the fine works of these godly kings. The death of Uzziah is mourned by Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 6.
Uzziah, however became prideful. Hear what the Scripture says of him –
“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 of incense.” 2 Chronicles 26:16 (KJV)
In his pride he usurped the office of the priest; an office that did not belong to him; nor a work that was his. When Uzziah was approached, and rebuked by the chief priest Azariah it is like he had the attitude, “I am king. Who do you think you are correcting the king?”
“And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.” 26:20-21
The chief priests were quite bold to throw the king out of the temple; and these priests knew they answered to a higher Power, the LORD God Almighty. There is no king, or any ruler is above God; none.
Uzziah died a leper, due to his prideful fall.
King Hezekiah too is recognized as a king who did what “…was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done” (29:2). King Hezekiah brought back the Passover, and brought back a unity between part of the people of the Northern kingdom of Israel (30:1-12). Hezekiah did many wonderful things in Judah and Jerusalem, and God blessed him greatly; yet his heart became prideful. We will get into a bit of the next scheduled reading with the next two references, but necessary for our look at Hezekiah.
“In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the LORD: and He spake unto him, and He gave him a sign. But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” 32:24-25
We also see that God did something in the life of Hezekiah which we may find a bit puzzling; He first gives the king fifteen more years of life, then He sends him a test…
“Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” 32:31 (See 2 Kings 20:12-19)
What I am referring to is the phrase, “God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” Have you ever had a time when it seemed the Lord had “left” you? It was probably a test. It is a time of God’s silence. Your real heart and mind will be revealed during those times. The warning here is be cautious, very cautious of pride.
No matter how great a thing we do for the LORD, in His name we still must guard our hearts against pride. Pride is the first thing on the list of abominations which God hates in Proverbs 6:16-19; and it is the one we all fall prey to most often.
In our pride God will humble us before Him. Let us begin in humility acknowledging that Christ died for sinners, of whom I am chief; that Christ was buried taking away all our sin, shame, guilt and condemnation; and that Jesus Christ arose from the grave and came out alive. There can be no pride that controls our lives when we walk with Him.