Uzziah’s problem with pride
… you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven…I will set my throne on high…I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ ”
Isaiah 14: 4, 12-14 (ESV)
The early church sometimes identified the king of Babylon as Nebuchadnezzar. He had an abnormally inflated opinion of his position as head of the Babylonian Empire. (Some Bible commentaries suggest this account may also be an allusion to Satan the devil, who opposed God at some stage historically.)
In my last study on the matter of pride I pointed out how great Christian writers like C. S. Lewis and John Stott considered pride to be ‘the Great Sin’. Pride untreated can be like an incurable disease and none of us can claim to be immune from it.
The Bible is replete with examples of people like Nebuchadnezzar who displayed the sins of pride and arrogance. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, nursed pride after they sinned by eating the forbidden fruit; King Saul of ancient Israel had it in abundance, and even King David at times fell prey to its dangerous trappings!
There is the account of a lesser-known king who, as a youth, inherited the throne of his father, Amaziah of Judah. Uzziah, as he was called, was ‘…sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem…And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…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.’ (2 Chronicles 26: 3-5).
After decades of seeking God’s will and direction for governing the country, Uzziah sadly let the sin of pride swell up in his mind. Instead of continuing to give God the credit for all the wonderful accomplishments He had wrought for the nation, Uzziah heaped praise on himself and his own ability! The NIV translation puts it succinctly: ‘But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall…’ (v.16). He even went as far as entering the temple to burn incense, which was the total responsibility of the Levitical priests. For his sin God struck Uzziah down with leprosy, from which he sadly died. (vv.17-21).
The sin of unrepentant pride has damaged the lives of many down the ages. We all are prone to falling into the trap of selfishness and pride, so let’s be on our guard and seek the mind and humility of Christ, which is the antidote to this most dangerous of sins.
Help us, Father, to be conscious of the sin of pride in our lives, and to resolve, with the help of your kind and gracious Spirit working within us, to take on the humility and nature of Jesus. In Jesus’s name we ask. Amen.
Study by John Magowan
About the writer:
John Magowan attends the Lisburn congregation of Grace Communion International, Northern Ireland.
Lisburn Grace Communion
Ballymacbrennan School House
129A Saintfield Road
Sunday 11.00 am
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