168 - Kings Uzziah and Jotham of Judah
JUNE 17 - Nº 168 2 Kings 15:1-7; 32 – 38; 2 Chronicles 26 – 27
The same people who killed King Amaziah of Judah (see #161 - June 10), immediately crowned his son Uzziah as their new king. Uzziah was only 16 years old, and he reigned for 52 years. During most of his reign, Uzziah (also known as Azariah) obeyed God and followed His commandments. So, God allowed him to accomplish many great things. Uzziah loved the land, so he dug many wells in the desert to water flocks and herds. He planted vineyards on the hillsides and crops in the fertile valleys. He was a great builder. He rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem that had been torn down during his father’s reign, strengthened many of Judah’s border cities, and restored a vital seaport. Uzziah also had a well-trained, well-equipped army. He designed a catapult that allowed his soldiers to hurl large rocks over the walls at their enemies below. He built slits into the towers on the city walls so the archers could launch their arrows without being seen. During his reign Judah defeated many enemies. He was revered as a wise and powerful ruler. Unfortunately, King Uzziah grew proud of his own accomplishments and became arrogant in his relationship with God. One day, he decided to go into the Temple and burn the incense himself. This was a task God had reserved only for the priests. When the high priest realized what the king was doing, he quickly gathered 80 other priests and followed him into the Holy Place in the Temple to stop him. The priests confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you to burn incense to the Lord. God made it clear that only a descendant of Aaron is allowed to burn incense. You need to leave the sanctuary right now! What you are doing is not honorable to God.” King Uzziah was already holding one of the censers with burning coals in his hand. He became angry and began raging at the priests. He couldn’t believe that they dared to oppose him. Suddenly a spot of leprosy broke out on his forehead. When the priests saw this, they rushed him out of the Temple. He understood right away that the Lord was punishing him for his pride—and the anger that resulted from it. King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He was banned from the Temple and the palace and had to live in a separate house. Uzziah’s son, Jotham, governed from the palace on behalf of his father. When Uzziah died, Jotham was crowned as the next king of Judah.
Jotham was a good king. He followed the example that his father had set during his early years by obeying God and keeping His commandments. Unlike his father, he chose never to enter the Temple, but he made many repairs to keep it beautiful and accessible to the people. He continued to fortify Jerusalem and build new cities. He went to war against the Ammonites and was able to make them his subjects. They were required to pay large amounts of taxes to Judah. Jotham obeyed God consistently from the beginning of his reign to the end. God was very pleased with him.
How do you respond when someone tries to correct you? Do you take the time to examine your actions, or do you respond in anger? Anger is a sure indication of pride, and just a few moments of angry pride can wipe out a lifetime of accomplishments. Although he achieved many great things, King Uzziah will always be remembered as the king who “had leprosy” (see 2 Chronicles 26:23).