#178: The King Who Achieved Much but Died of Pride

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

He should have known better. He was well educated. He had all the wisdom of the wise men available to him. He had wise counselors. At the very least, he should have learned from the bad example of his father. But he didn’t.

2 Chronicles 26:16, Pride

Pride, the sin that is so common to man, caused his downfall. Some 200 years before, Solomon wrote this stern warning to leaders, Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Ahaziah should have had that Proverb written in big letters on a piece of parchment hanging on the wall behind his desk.

Ahaziah was only 16 years old when his father, the king of Judah, foolishly engaged in battle with the Israelites and was taken captive. Ahaziah whose name meant “Jehovah has helped” was made king of Judah. As king, he changed his name to Uzziah which means “Jehovah is strength.”

A Successful Starting Point

Uzziah started out great. As a young king, Uzziah did right in following the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:4), and sought God throughout the life of his counselor Zechariah (26:5), and the Lord gave him success:

  • He was an accomplished military leader.
    • Uzziah was able to recover the city of Elath.
    • He went on to secure military victories over the Philistines, Arabians, and the Ammonites.
    • He built up a well-trained army and equipped them with weapons and armor.
    • Uzziah built war machines that could shoot arrows and catapults that could hurl large stones.
  • He was a builder.
    • In addition to the war machines, Uzziah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem to protect the city.
    • He built cities in the territories he conquered and settled them.
    • He built towers in the fields and stationed guards to protect the farmers and herdsmen
  • He increased economic trade
    • The city of Elath gave the people of Judah a major seaport for trade.
    • The Philistine lands he conquered gave the people of Judah additional trade routes and seaport trade.
  • He supported agriculture.
    • Uzziah built cisterns for water.
    • He assigned people to work the fields, vineyards, flocks, and herds.

A Dangerous Turning Point

Over time, Uzziah became strong because of the Lord’s blessing on him and his fame spread throughout the land.

In arrogance and pride, Uzziah decided he wanted to not only be a king but also to be a priest ministering before the Lord. Only Levites were allowed to be priests and Uzziah was not a Levite.

The high priest and 80 other priests stood before Uzziah and bravely told him not to enter the temple to offer incense to the Lord.

Uzziah was furious with the priests and was intent on offering incense to the Lord when the Lord suddenly struck him with leprosy. The priests rushed him out of the sanctuary of the temple.

A Sad Ending Point

Uzziah lived the rest of his life in isolation with leprosy. He was not allowed in public. He had no access to the temple or even the palace of the king. His son, Jotham became king and ruled over Judah.

When Uzziah died, he was buried in the royal cemetery but not in the tombs of the kings of Judah.

Lessons for Leaders

Uzziah should have been humbled by the Lord’s blessings on his life and the people of Judah. The Lord blessed him with military victories, new territories, and the opportunity to rebuild the economy and infrastructure of the kingdom of Judah.

Instead of being humbled and gracious for the Lord’s blessings he became arrogant and prideful. He became so full of himself that he even angrily rejected the warnings of the high priest.

Then, when God struck him with leprosy he never repented of his actions. His stubborn pride caused him to live the rest of his days in isolation, cut-off from the very people the Lord had given him to lead as king.

Success is often followed by prideful arrogance and ambition. We forget it was the Lord who blessed us in the first place, and we think we achieved our success based on our own effort.

Solomon was right, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you know leaders who pridefully believe their success accrues only to their efforts? Did their pride bring about their fall?

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Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God


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  • It’s one thing to feel a sense of pride in your accomplishments, but once our pride develops into arrogance, we’re in trouble!