Josiah was king of Judah from 641 to 609 B.C. he assumed the throne at the age of eight and reigned for 31 years. He died in battle at Megiddo being killed by Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt (2 Kings 23:28-30).
Josiah was righteous in a time of wickedness. He was faithful in an evil environment. His righteousness was unsurpassed by any king before or after him (2 Kings 23:25). He was righteous even though his family was wicked. One can read of the wickedness of Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh (2 Kings 21:19,16); his father Amon (2 Kings 21:19-22); and his sons, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:31-37). He was righteous even though the Judean society was evil. According to 2 Kings 21, they were worse than the nations God had destroyed (v. 9), they had filled Jerusalem “with blood” (v. 16) and they were totally given over to idolatry (vv. 2-7, 21).
Josiah’s faithfulness was seen in numerous ways in his life. It was seen in the changes he instituted. In the eighth year of his reign he “began to seek after God” (2 Chron. 34:3). In the twelfth year of his reign he brought sweeping changes to Judah (2 Chron. 34:3-7) which included purging Judah of the “high places” and idols, breaking down the altars of Baal and punishing the idolatrous priests. In the eighteenth year of his reign he sought to repair the house of God (2 Kings 22:3-7).
His faithfulness is also seen in his tender-hearted reaction to the Law of God (2 Kings 22). While work was being done on the Temple, the book of the Law of God was found (v. 8). Josiah recognized the value of the book of the Law (vv. 11-13). He had godly sorrow over Judah’s sins (v. 11). He desired to learn more of the word (vv. 12-13).
How could Josiah remain faithful in the midst of such evil? What reasons could be given to explain his faithfulness? Though one might cite different factors to account for his strong faith, there was one main attitude that he possessed which undergirded his loyalty to God: He had a tender heart toward the word of God. God, in speaking of Josiah, in 2 Kings 22: 19 said, “because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke…”‘
Josiah tender-heartedly recognized the word of God for what it was. He received the will of God and he humbled himself before it. He was filled with godly sorrow over sin so he cleansed its evil and impurities from his life. He sought to know as much of the will of God as he could (2 Kings 23:2). He walked in the way of God by humbly obeying the commands of God. He did not turn aside to the right or the left. 2 Kings 23:3 says of him, “Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book.”
Also, knowing the value of the book of the Law of God, he shared the word with others. Verse two of 2 Kings 23 says, “The king went up to the house of the Lord with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem — the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord.” Because of his influence, “all the people took a stand for the covenant” (2 Kings 23:3).
The life of Josiah presents a wonderful example for people for it demonstrates how one may find favor with God. The key to finding favor with God is to have the attitude that Josiah had toward the word of God.
Recognize the Bible for what it is — the word of God. Tender-heartedly receive it as the will of God and humble yourself before it. Be filled with godly sorrow over your sins and seek to cleanse the evils and impurities of sin from your life. Seek to know as much as you can of the will of God. Walk in the way of God by humbly obeying God’s commands. Do not turn aside to the right or the left. Knowing the word’s value, share it with others.
If you will have a tender heart for truth, as did Josiah, you too will be pleasing unto God and be rewarded by Him with an eternal inheritance in heaven.