Men of the Bible
Meaning: Jehovah heals
His Character: King Josiah was a good king who was one of Judah’s strongest spiritual leaders. He was devoted, obedient, humble, and had a repentant spirit.
His Sorrow: Although King Josiah tried to get Judah back on the right track, his people did not support his reforms in their hearts and judgment would come to Judah.
His Triumph: The northern tribes were influenced by his reforms.
Key Scriptures: 2 Kings 22, 23; 2 Chronicles 34-35
King Josiah’s father and grandfather were both described as wicked. It is believed that his mother, Jedidah, was a Godly influence to the young boy. Josiah was a mere eight years old when he became the 16th king of Judah, and he ruled Judah for 31 years.
King Josiah was a king who did what was right in the sight of the Lord and is said to have been like his great-grandfather, Hezekiah. Both had close and personal relationships with God. Both made attempts to bring the people back to God through reforms. Both lived during times when the people were disobedient to God.
During the eighteenth year of his reign, renovation work was being done to the Lord’s Temple. King Josiah had the high priest, Hilkiah, go to the temple to count the money the gatekeepers had collected from the people at the temple. The money was then to be entrusted to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the temple. While there, Hilkiah found a Book of the Law, and the book was sent to King Josiah. When the court secretary read what was written in the Book of the Law to King Josiah, he was greatly despaired. He knew that his ancestors and people had not been doing all they could do. There was a great gap between his efforts to lead the people back to God and what God expected from them. The people knew so little about their spiritual and cultural heritage that even the Passover had been forgotten.
King Josiah sent messengers to the temple to inquire about the words written in the scroll and whether it was authentic. Unfortunately for King Josiah, the scroll was authentic and the words were true. The disaster the Lord spoke of in the scroll would come to pass because the people had abandoned God and worshipped other idols. God’s wrath would be felt. But because of King Josiah’s love for God, his willingness to obey God, his repentance, and his despair, God’s punishment would not happen in his lifetime.
King Josiah spent time destroying and cleaning up what did not worship the true and living God. He was a man who was at awe of God’s holiness and tried to expose the people to this holiness. The people did respond but more out of respect for Josiah as king than out of true understanding of who God was. So we know that sweeping outward reforms are no good if there are no changes in our hearts.
King Josiah was a man who knew who he was in God. He realized that there was a gap in the kind of life God wanted him and the people to lead. This gap is true for us today. How can we even begin to fathom God’s holiness? King Josiah had it right. Because he was humble enough to seek after God, God responded to his repentant and humble heart.
2 Kings 23:25, sums up the essence of King Josiah’s life perfectly. It says, “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”