2 Chronicles 26:16
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 on the altar of incense.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
UZZIAH’S PRESUMPTION PUNISHED BY LEPROSY HIS DEATH

(2Chronicles 26:16-23).

This section also is mainly peculiar to the chronicler. 2Kings 15:5-7 correspond to 2Chronicles 26:21-23 only.

(16) But when he was strong.—See 2Chronicles 26:15, “till he was strong,” and the same phrase, 2Chronicles 12:1.

His heart was lifted up.—With pride.

To his destruction.—Rather, even to dealing corruptly (‘ad lehashchîth).

For he transgressed.And he was unfaithful to Jehovah (1Chronicles 5:25).

Went into the temple . . . to burn incense.—On the golden altar, in the Holy Place; contrary to the law of Numbers 18:1-7, Elevated by success, Uzziah appears to have desired to become supreme pontiff as well as king, and to exercise the same dual functions as the Egyptian Pharaohs were wont to do. Some have thought that he merely revived the precedent of David and Solomon; but it can hardly be proved that those monarchs, though represented as organising the priesthood and ritual, and conducting great religious festivals, ever actually performed the distinctive functions of priests. (Comp. the conduct of Saul, 1Samuel 13:9, and its consequences.)

2 Chronicles 26:16. When he was strong — Strengthened in his kingdom, and free from the fear of any enemy; his heart was lifted up to his destruction — Thus the prosperity of fools, by puffing them up with pride, destroys them. He had done so much business, and attained so much honour, that he began to think no business, no honour too great, or too good for him; no, not that of the priesthood. He went unto the temple of the Lord — Into the holy place, where the altar of incense stood, and into which none but priests might enter, much less offer incense.26:16-23 The transgression of the kings before Uzziah was, forsaking the temple of the Lord, and burning incense upon idolatrous altars. But his transgression was, going into the holy place, and attempting to burn incense upon the altar of God. See how hard it is to avoid one extreme, and not run into another. Pride of heart was at the bottom of his sin; a lust that ruins many. Instead of lifting up the name God in gratitude to him who had done so much for him, his heart was lifted up to his hurt. Men's pretending to forbidden knowledge, and seeking things too high for them, are owing to pride of heart. The incense of our prayers must be, by faith, put into the hands of our Lord Jesus, the great High Priest of our profession, else we cannot expect it to be accepted by God, Re 8:3. Though Uzziah strove with the priests, he would not strive with his Maker. But he was punished for his transgression; he continued a leper to his death, shut out from society. The punishment answered the sin as face to face in a glass. Pride was at the bottom of his transgression, and thus God humbled him, and put dishonour upon him. Those that covet forbidden honours, forfeit allowed ones. Adam, by catching at the tree of knowledge which he might not eat of, debarred himself of the tree of life which he might have eaten of. Let all that read say, The Lord is righteous. And when the Lord sees good to throw prosperous and useful men aside, as broken vessels, if he raises up others to fill their places, they may rejoice to renounce all worldly concerns, and employ their remaining days in preparation for death.To his destruction - Rather, "to do wickedly." Uzziah appears to have deliberately determined to invade the priest's office (marginal reference "m"), thus repeating the sin of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Numbers 16:1-35. 2Ch 26:16-21. He Invades the Priest's Office, and Is Smitten with Leprosy.

16-21. he transgressed against the Lord, &c.—(See on [455]2Ki 15:5). This daring and wicked act is in both records traced to the intoxicating influence of overweening pride and vanity. But here the additional circumstances are stated, that his entrance was opposed, and strong remonstrances made (1Ch 6:10) by the high priest, who was accompanied by eighty inferior priests. Rage and threats were the only answers he deigned to return, but God took care to vindicate the sacredness of the priestly office. At the moment the king lifted the censer, He struck him with leprosy. The earthquake mentioned (Am 1:1) is said to have been felt at the moment [Josephus].

But when he was strong; when he was strengthened in his kingdom, and free from the fear of any enemy.

Into the temple of the Lord; into the holy place, where the altar of incense stood, and into which none but the priests might enter, much less offer incense. When he was strong,.... Became great and powerful, through his victories, the enlargement of his dominions, and having a numerous army, and these well accoutred, and many fortified cities and towers:

his heart was lifted up to his destruction; he grew vain and proud, elated with his flourishing circumstances, which issued in his ruin:

for he transgressed against the Lord his God; who had helped him, and made him so great, and had bestowed so many favours upon him; the Targum is,"the Word of the Lord his God;''what his transgression was, follows:

and went into the temple of the Lord; the holy place, into which none but the priests might enter:

to burn incense upon the altar of incense; which stood there.

But when he was strong, his heart {i} 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.

(i) Thus prosperity causes men to trust in themselves and by forgetting him who is the author of it, procure their own punishment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. to his destruction] R.V. so that he did corruptly; cp. 2 Chronicles 27:2 (the same Heb. word).

he transgressed] R.V. trespassed; cp. 2 Chronicles 12:2; Joshua 7:1; Joshua 22:16. The Heb. word implies presumptuous dealing with holy things.

the altar of incense] Cp. Exodus 30:1-10. Not only the altar, but the incense Itself was “most holy”; ib. Exodus 30:34-38.

16–20 (not in Kings). Uzziah’s Presumption

For a discussion of the historical probabilities of this account see the Introduction § 8.Verse 16. - To (his) destruction; Hebrew, עַד־לְחַשְׁחִית, hiph. conjugation infin, of שָׁחַת. This conjugation frequently occurs in the sense of "destroying," but also as well without an accusative as with, in the sense of "doing corruptly" (Genesis 6:12 with accusative; but without Deuteronomy 4:16; Deuteronomy 31:29; Judges 2:19; Isaiah 1:19; and next chapter, ver. 2). He transgressed. The "transgression" of a heart that had waxed wanton through prosperity took that peculiarly aggravated form of sinning against holy things and a holy ceremonial. Although, in the daily service of the second temple, the duty of offering incense attached to one chosen by lot each morning and evening of the inferior priests, yet originally the high priest was solemnly appointed for this office. The following are among the most important references to the matter of the incense and its offering (Exodus 25:6; Exodus 30:1, 7, 8, 34, 37, 38; Leviticus 16:13; Luke 1:21; Numbers 6:24-26; Numbers 16:1-35; Numbers 18:1-7; 1 Kings 4:20). Moreover, Uzziah took measures for the defence of his herds, which formed one main part of his revenues and wealth. He built towers in the wilderness, in the steppe-lands on the west side of the Dead Sea, so well fitted for cattle-breeding (i.e., in the wilderness of Judah), to protect the herds against the attacks of the robber peoples of Edom and Arabia. And he dug many wells to water the cattle; "for he had much cattle" in the wilderness just mentioned, and "in the lowland" (Shephelah) on the Mediterranean Sea (see 1 Chronicles 27:28), and "in the plain" (מישׁור), i.e., the flat land on the east side of the Dead Sea, extending from Arnon to near Heshbon in the north, and to the northeast as far as Rabbath Ammon (see on Deuteronomy 3:10), i.e., the tribal land of Reuben, which accordingly at that time belonged to Judah. Probably it had been taken from the Israelites by the Moabites and Ammonites, and reconquered from them by Uzziah, and incorporated with his kingdom; for, according to 2 Chronicles 26:8, he had made the Ammonites tributary; cf. on 1 Chronicles 5:17. Husbandmen and vine-dressers had he in the mountains and upon Carmel, for he loved husbandry. After וגו אכּרים, לו היוּ is to be supplied. אדמה, the land, which is cultivated, stands here for agriculture. As to Carmel, see on Joshua 19:26.
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