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 The Danger of Success by H. A. Ironside

For a time Uzziah's life was one long record of success such as few kings have known. He went out to war and was everywhere a victor. Through his prowess Judah assumed something of her Davidic and Solomonic glory. He built towers in the desert for defense, thus enlarging his borders; and digged many wells for refreshment and blessing. In the gentle art of husbandry he was likewise active; a man who delighted to till the ground and cause it to bring forth what would be for cheer and nourishment. His was not the field of the slothful, bringing forth thorns and briars, but the tillage of the diligent receiving blessing from God.

For how many years he went on in this godly, orderly manner we know not; but in verse 15 we find a sudden break in the happy record: "He was marvelously helped till he was strong." While he was little in his own eyes, God could trust him with success; but when he was strong he forgot, in some sense, that the victories were not of his own prowess and that he had nothing that he had not received. "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" (ver. 16).

It is very evident that something had been working in the heart of Uzziah which had not hitherto come to the surface. Even his very success had fostered to a certain degree a feeling of self-satisfaction with a desire for self-exaltation. What a warning is this for every one of us. Who can trust his own heart? We are so corrupt by nature that even the very blessing of God upon our service may but minister to the pride of our natural hearts if we do not go through everything in fellowship with Him who has called us to minister in holy things. How easy for us to forget that we have no might, no power, no sufficiency in ourselves! "But our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament" (2 Cor. 3:5-6). Therefore we have no reason to boast in anything we accomplish, for has not our blessed Lord said, "Without Me ye can do nothing"?

But Uzziah forgot this. So used had he become to success that he seemed to have reached the place where he felt that whatever he attempted to do must be right, and would be owned of God. He must have known that it was the prerogative of the priests alone to burn incense in the Holy Place. But he sought to usurp this priestly service though he had no title to do so. That God should have called others to do something in which he had no part was apparently gall and bitterness to the haughty king. Instead of being content to use his own gifts in subjection to the Lord and fill the place allotted to him, his restless nature made him yearn to do what God had forbidden.


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