In 2 Kings 14 we read the account of Judah’s King Amaziah. The chronicler tells us that “he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.” (v. 3) He seems to have started well. When “the royal power was firmly in his hand” (v. 5) he dealt with the enemies of his assassinated father (2 Kings 12:19-21) according to the Law of the Lord. He justly executed the conspirators, but unlike a common practice of the day, he did not punish their children. Honorably, the king obeyed the Lord’s command (vv. 5,6). As D.A. Carson noted, King Amaziah was “a good man.”
But he was still a man, and therefore, capable of a hard fall. And that’s exactly what happened. In verses 8-14 we read the tragic account of Amaziah’s foolish decision to declare war with Israel. Though Israel’s own king tried to warn him, King Amaziah wouldn’t listen, and he led Judah into defeat and shame.
How do good men come to make such rash and horrible decisions? Pride! Though the Bible doesn’t come right out and state that pride was the cause of Amaziah’s fall, it does hint at it. Verse 7 tells of a victory that King Amaziah experienced over the Edomites and verse 8 begins with, “Then Amaziah….” It seems, then, that the success of verse 7 went to the king’s head. He was ailing from a “fat head.” Pride had sprung up and spread through his soul. And the result was disastrous! It always is.
This is why the apostle Paul would write, “So to keep me from becoming conceited….a thorn was given me in the flesh… to keep me from becoming conceited… For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:7, 10) Unlike King Amaziah, Paul knew his own propensity for pride. He learned that strength can actually be our weakness and that weakness can actually be our strength, for Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)
Don’t get me wrong, we should rejoice in the successes the Lord grants us. But we dare not take them as our own. And, just as we can humbly rejoice in success, we ought also to humbly rejoice in our weaknesses, recognizing the sanctifying grace of Christ that keeps us from pride’s destruction.
“Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor 10:12
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Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.