Josiah was a king who ruled Judah for 31 years. That may sound like a regular amount of time to rule as king, but there’s something special about Josiah’s rule; it started when he was 8-years-old. The average 8-year-old isn’t thinking about leading a kingdom. They go to school, play outside with their friends, and enjoy being a kid. However, Josiah was in a different position. 2 Kings 22:1 gives us a brief introduction to Josiah, telling us that his mother’s name was Jedidah from Bozkath, and her mother was Adaiah.
As we look into his life, we should think about two questions. Who was Josiah, and what can we learn from him? It’s good to know about biblical characters, but the lesson isn’t done until you take examples from their life and apply them to yours. This is partly why God lets us look into their lives. In Josiah’s life, some lessons show us who he is and inform us on how we should live.
Who is Josiah?
Before we get into who Josiah is, let’s examine the history of the kings of Judah and Israel. After David’s death, his son Solomon became Israel’s king. When Solomon died, the kingdom split into two. The northern territory was Israel, compromised of 10 tribes. The southern kingdom was Judah, made up of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. The most common theme among the kings that came after David was they didn’t obey God as David did. The majority of them did evil in the Lord’s eyes. This was true for many kings in Judah and all of Israel’s kings. However, Josiah followed God with all his heart.
We find Josiah’s story in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35. The details from both accounts are similar, but you get a new perspective of his life from both versions. Here are some lessons we learn from Josiah’s life.
Josiah began and ended right.
In Kings 22:2, we read the first thing about Josiah and his character. It says that Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed David’s ways entirely, never turning left or right. If this were the only thing we heard about Josiah, that would be enough. What’s remarkable about this youngster was his commitment to following God with his entire being. He acquired this desire at eight-years-old. Though he lived to the young age of 39, he never changed. Not only did he start well, but he ended well. Are any of us on track to finish well? There’s plenty of excitement at the start of your walk with God, but it can wane along the way. This ebb of enthusiasm happened to some of Judah’s previous kings who started following God but fell off the wagon. However, this didn’t occur with Josiah. We should ensure that we’re the kind of Christians that will remain faithful and last to the end because that’s what Josiah did.
Josiah’s heart was sensitive to God’s Word.
One of the most well-known stories that show the core of who Josiah is in the Bible is how he responded when the book of the law was discovered and read to him when he was 26 years old. 2 Kings 22:11 tells us that Josiah tore his two robes when he heard the book of the law. In a biblical context, when someone tore their robes, that showed deep sadness. It could mean you’re mourning the loss of something or someone or grieving over sin, like Josiah. Reading God’s Word showed Josiah how much work he and the nation of Judah had to do.
He didn’t want to justify or clarify Judah’s behavior. Instead, he desired to rectify it, which he did by repenting. Imagine how you act when faced with any opinion, thought, or action against God’s Word. Is it similar or opposite to Josiah’s? Some believers try to find an excuse for their sins instead of repenting for them, but this wasn’t Josiah’s heart. Reading his story challenges the attitudes about the place in our hearts that holds God’s Word, and we should all do the same. We should all get a place where we live by God’s Word without hesitation because that’s who Josiah was.
Josiah’s repentance led to change.
One admirable quality about Josiah is that his repentance caused him to change his behavior. We should note that Josiah was already doing what was right in God’s eyes because that’s what the Bible tells us. When faced with God’s Word, he noticed that more change was necessary, which led him to repent. His atonement caused him to change the nation’s practices and his ways.
Because of his repentance, Josiah renewed the covenant by promising to obey the Lord and keep His laws, commands, and decrees and asked his people to do the same. He also eliminated the articles of worship to Asherah, Baal, and any other god in the temple and burned them. Finally, he destroyed the living quarters of the female and male shrine prostitutes that lived in the Temple of the Lord. The rest of Josiah’s changes are in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.
Josiah followed the Lord despite everything.
Josiah is proof that you can stay faithful to God in your life no matter what’s happening around you. When you think about it, Josiah didn’t have the best example of remaining faithful to God, especially not from his father Amon or grandfather. However, he didn’t let that stop him. This sentiment helps us understand that our life situations and circumstances don’t define us, but our choices do.
No matter what happens in your life, you can choose to be the same person Josiah was. It doesn’t matter who comes before or after you. The commitment to follow God with all your heart is one you have to make for yourself. The Bible doesn’t discuss Josiah’s accomplishments during his reign as king. The most commendable thing about Josiah is that he did right in the Lord’s eyes throughout his life. That’s how he was, and it should be the way we are too.