Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. GREAT IN RESPECT OF ITS CONFORMITY TO THE LAW. To suppose (De Wette, Thenius, and others) that never before had a Passover been observed in Israel or Judah since the days of Samuel (ver. 18; 1 Esdras. 1:20, 21) or of the judges (2 Kings 23:22), is not only to extract an unwarrantable inference from the sacred text, but is contradicted by the fact that Hezekiah, a former King of Judah, celebrated a Passover in Jerusalem which was not merely a Passover of his own arranging, but the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1, 2) prescribed by the Law of Moses (vers. 16, 18). That this Passover, however, should have adhered more closely to the prescriptions of the lawgiver than any former, demands no additional explanation beyond the fact that it was celebrated in Josiah's eighteenth year (ver. 19), and after the discovery of the book of the Law (2 Chronicles 34:14, 15). The stricter adherence to Mosaic regulation appeared in three things.
1. The exactness of the date. The solemnity began "on the fourteenth day of the first month" (ver. 1), as the book of the Law commanded (Exodus 12.). Hezekiah's festival commenced "in the second month" because of the difficulty of getting ready for the stipulated time (2 Chronicles 30:2, 3). The Passover proper also ended on one day, i.e. all were able to eat the sacrificial lamb at the appointed time (ver. 16), without any requiring to defer their participation thereof for any reason whatever (Numbers 9:6-12).
2. The unity of the place. The feast was held in Jerusalem (ver. 1) by all its celebrants. The same was true of Hezekiah's Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1), though it is doubtful if as much could be said of earlier observances from the days of the judges or of Samuel.
3. The completeness of the ritual. Everything was done "in accordance with the Word of the Lord by the hand of Moses" (ver. 6); i.e. the instructions as to the duties of the priests, Levites, and people; as to the killing, burning, eating of the victims; and as to the presentation of mazzoth gifts for the ensuing feast, were faithfully carried out.
II. GREAT IN RESPECT OF THE PREPARATIONS FOR ITS OBSERVANCE. Not greater as to amount of labour than were those made in connection with Hezekiah's festival; but still great.
1. Concerning the priests. These were set in their charges and encouraged to the service of the house of the Lord (ver. 2). Following the example of Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 23:18), Josiah distributed among the divisions of the priesthood as arranged by David (1 Chronicles 24.) the different parts of work required by the Law of Moses in the celebration of the Passover, i.e. he set them "according to their daily courses, Being arrayed in long garments, in the temple of the Lord' (1 Esdr. 1:2); after which he strengthened them for their labours by detailed instructions as to their duties, and by encouraging exhortations to its faithful performance.
2. Concerning the Levites. These were:
(1) Defined as to their official work and character; in respect of the former being called "teachers of all Israel" (cf. 2 Chronicles 17:8, 9; Nehemiah 8:7, 9), and with reference to the latter being designated "holy unto the Lord" (Numbers 3:12, 13) - an epithet applied also to the priests (2 Chronicles 23:6; Leviticus 21:6), and even to the people (Deuteronomy 7:6); an epithet expressive of outward consecration, which, however, ought in every instance to reflect an inward consecration as its ground and justification.
(2) Directed about the ark, which they were told to "put," or leave (Keil), "in the house which Solomon the son of David King of Israel did build" (ver. 3). The ark, it is supposed, had been removed from the holy of holies during the idolatrous reigns of Manasseh and Amon By these kings themselves (Estius, Piscator), or by the priests who wished to preserve it (A. Clarke), and now was ordered by Josiah to be replaced; but against this stands the fact that the work of placing the ark in the holy of holies belonged not to the Levites, but to the priests (ver. 7). It has also been conjectured that the Levites had been accustomed to carry the ark about the temple courts during the Passover celebration "under the impression that they were required so to do by the Law, and that Josiah pointed out to them the alteration which had taken place in this respect since the erection of the temple by Solomon" (Bertheau); but for this conjecture there is no positive historical foundation. A third explanation is that, as the Levites were no longer required to carry the ark about from place to place since it now had a resting-place in the temple, they should leave it there and give themselves to such other duties as were now demanded of them (Keil).
(3) Commanded relative to themselves - to arrange themselves according to their fathers' houses and after their courses according to the writings of David and Solomon (ver. 4); to take up their stations in the holy place according to the divisions of the fathers' houses of their lay brethren, so that one of their divisions should fail to each father's house of the laymen (ver. 5); to kill the Passover and sanctify themselves, probably by washing themselves, before handing the blood to the priests to sprinkle on the altar (Keil), or after they had done so and before they performed any further duties (Bertheau); and, finally, to prepare, so. the Passover for their brethren the laymen, that they might do according to the Word of the Lord by the hand of Moses (ver. 6).
3. Concerning the people. These, i.e. such of them as were poor, or had come from a distance without having brought the necessary sacrificial animals, were furnished with lambs, kids, and bullocks, or small cattle and oxen (vers. 7-9), without which they could not have taken part in the celebration. At least the poor would have been excluded, which would have marred both the completeness and hilarity of the celebration.
III. GREAT IN RESPECT OF ITS ACCOMPANYING LIBERALITY.
1. On the part of the king. From the royal revenues Josiah contributed for the Passover offerings
(1) largely - thirty thousand lambs and kids and three thousand bullocks (ver. 7), a much larger gift than was presented by Hezekiah (ch. 30:24); and
(2) promptly, taking the lead in his good work, and so supplying an example to his subjects.
2. On the part of the royal princes. These, copying the action of their sovereign, likewise made donations
(1) freely, or "for a free-will offering " - an indispensable quality in all religious giving (2 Corinthians 8:12); and it may be hoped
(2) largely, though this is not stated. They would hardly fall behind the princes in the time of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:24).
3. On the part of the rulers of the temple. Hilkiah the high priest (2 Chronicles 34:9), Zechariah, perhaps the next in rank to him, "the second priest" (2 Kings 25:18; Jeremiah 52:24), and Jehiel, the chief of the line of Ithamar (Ezra 8:2), exhibited a similar praiseworthy liberality (ver. 8).
4. On the part of the Levite princes. Six of these whose names are recorded - Conaniah, with his two brothers Shemaiah and Nethaneel, with Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozahad also displayed a high degree of generosity (ver. 9).
IV. GREAT IN RESPECT OF ITS CO-OPERATING ACTIVITY. Each had his part to perform, and each performed it in such a way as not to hinder, but to accelerate the progress; and not to mar, but to increase the effect of the whole.
1. The priests. These
(1) stood in their place beside the altars (ver. 10; 2 Chronicles 30:16);
(2) sprinkled the blood they received from the Levites (ver. 11; 2 Chronicles 30:16); and
(3) offered burnt offerings and the fat until night (ver. 14).
2. The Levites. These
(1) killed the Passover victims (ver. 11);
(2) flayed or skinned them (ver. 11); and
(3) removed from their carcases such parts as were designed to be offered as burnt offerings (ver. 12); after which they
(4) roasted the Passover with fire, according to the Mosaic ordinance (ver. 13; Exodus 12:8, 9);
(5) boiled the other offerings in pots, caldrons, and pans (ver. 13);
(6) divided them as they were ready among the people (ver. 13); and
(7) prepared the Passover for themselves and for the priests (ver. 14).
3. The singers. These, the sons of Asaph, stood in their places, in the court of the temple, discoursing music with harps, psalteries, and cymbals (1 Chronicles 25:1), without once leaving their ranks even to eat the Passover, the Levites preparing for and fetching to them their portion (ver. 15).
4. The porters. At every gate these watched, never departing from their service, because the Levites did for them as for the musicians (ver. 15). Thus each contributed his part, and all worked harmoniously towards the production of the general result.
V. GREAT IN RESPECT OF ITS CELEBRATING NUMBERS. The feast was attended by:
1. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, including Josiah and his princes, with the priests and the Levites.
2. All Judah, meaning the population beyond the metropolis, in the country districts.
3. The children of Israel; i.e. the members of the northern kingdom who had not been carried into exile, and who had come to Jerusalem to be present at the feast. Learn:
1. The duty of observing the public ordinances of religion.
2. The beauty and value of unity and co-operation in Christian work and worship.
3. The propriety of having special seasons of religious service. - W.
I. THAT ALL WORK FOR GOD MAY BE GOOD AND ACCEPTABLE. Josiah could not have meant that the carrying of the ark was not "service." Although the words, as they stand in the third verse, certainly bear that construction, we conclude that he could not have intended them to have that significance. No devout Jew would have questioned the statement that the work of carrying the ark of the covenant under Divine commandment was an act of sacred service. Indeed, it matters not how humble or even slight and trivial be the work we do in the cause of God, so long as it is rendered
(1) cheerfully, and not of constraint or grudgingly
(2) faithfully, diligently, taking our part and carrying it out with loyalty and thoroughness;
(3) harmoniously, in concert with our fellow-labourers;
(4) religiously, devoutly, doing what we do as unto Christ, and not only as unto man; it is then good and sacred and acceptable unto God our Saviour.
"All works are good, and each is best II. THAT THERE IS WORK WHICH IS TO BE PREFERRED WHEN THE CHOICE IS OFFERED US. 1. The spiritual to the mechanical; e.g. leading in prayer or urging to religious decision or to deeper and fuller devotedness, (to be preferred) to the work of "the doorkeeper in the house of the Lord," good as that is in its time and way. 2. The practical to the speculative; e.g. doing some work of rescue or reformation rather than indulging in speculations as to the employments of the heavenly country, or trying to read the riddle of the Apocalypse. 3. The sympathetic to the argumentative. It may be well to demolish the arguments of the assailant of the faith; it is better to "visit the widow and the fatherless in their affliction;' to carry consolation and hope to those who are ready to.faint or to despair. The logical man does well to argue, but the work of "the man who is a hiding-place from the wind and a covert from the tempest" is of a nobler, a Christlier kind. 4. The costly to the costless. No sum is too small for the treasury of the Lord, no word too simple for the sanctuary; yet is it a better thing to bring to Jesus Christ that which costs us something (2 Samuel 24:24) - the work which commands and requires our strength, the word on which we have spent patient and prayerful thought, the feeling which is a real expenditure of ourselves. - C.
II. THAT THERE IS WORK WHICH IS TO BE PREFERRED WHEN THE CHOICE IS OFFERED US.
1. The spiritual to the mechanical; e.g. leading in prayer or urging to religious decision or to deeper and fuller devotedness, (to be preferred) to the work of "the doorkeeper in the house of the Lord," good as that is in its time and way.
2. The practical to the speculative; e.g. doing some work of rescue or reformation rather than indulging in speculations as to the employments of the heavenly country, or trying to read the riddle of the Apocalypse.
3. The sympathetic to the argumentative. It may be well to demolish the arguments of the assailant of the faith; it is better to "visit the widow and the fatherless in their affliction;' to carry consolation and hope to those who are ready to.faint or to despair. The logical man does well to argue, but the work of "the man who is a hiding-place from the wind and a covert from the tempest" is of a nobler, a Christlier kind.
4. The costly to the costless. No sum is too small for the treasury of the Lord, no word too simple for the sanctuary; yet is it a better thing to bring to Jesus Christ that which costs us something (2 Samuel 24:24) - the work which commands and requires our strength, the word on which we have spent patient and prayerful thought, the feeling which is a real expenditure of ourselves. - C.
I. THAT RELIGIOUS LIFE INCLUDES A FEW GREAT OCCASIONS. The religious life of Israel included some special occasions, of which this was one. Provision was made in the Law for one event of surpassing solemnity in every year (Leviticus 16.). And the very checkered course the nation ran provided a few extraordinary scenes which were great and sacred opportunities. Thus is it with individual lives. During a life of ordinary length and interest there will occur some few events which are signal, striking, critical. Much may depend on them; much use should be made of them. But, after all, it is not by them that our life will be sustained, and it is not upon them that any wise man will rely. It is the regular worship; it is the daily devotion; it is the habitual recognition of God and appeal to him that determines our spiritual position, that makes us to "live before" him and in him.
II. THAT THE SERVICE OF GOD PROVIDES A VERY WIDE OPPORTUNITY. How many men, how many classes or orders of men, contributed to this one service! The king inspired and directed it (vers. 1, 2); the Levites "killed the Passover" (vers. 6-11); the priests "sprinkled the blood" (ver. 11). The heads of the orders, from the king downwards, contributed generously of their flocks to supply the people's need (vers. 7-9). The singers sang (ver. 15); the porters "waited at every gate" (ver. 15). So "all the service of the Lord' was rendered, every one taking his place and doing his best thereat (ver. 16). The Church of Christ is one Body with many members, and all the members have not the same office; very various indeed are the offices which are rendered by the disciples of the one Lord. And as, year by year, Christian life, as well as civilized life, becomes more complex and intricate, it becomes more decisively and imperatively our duty to recognize the fact that, while our own particular function has its importance, it is only one among many others, and that every one of us is beholden to his fellows for valuable services which it is not in his own power to render. And it is well also to mark that, in a state so complicated, with so many posts to be filled, there is the less excuse for any idle member.
III. THAT THE SERVICE OF OTHERS SHOULD PRECEDE PROVISION FOR OURSELVES. "Afterward they made ready for themselves" (ver. 14). In the kingdom of Christ we are not to stand upon our official rights; we are to claim the supreme honour of serving others, after the manner of our Divine Leader. He was "among us as one that serveth;" he was here "not to be ministered unto, but to minister;" and we never stand nearer to him than when we abnegate any right we might officially claim, and prefer to wait upon others' wants; to minister to their necessities; to make them glad, or to do them good. Of ourselves we may think and for ourselves we may care, but afterward, not first.
IV. THAT WE MAY RENDER AN EXCELLENT SERVICE BY A REVIVAL OF THE FORGOTTEN. It does not follow that old usages, though they once had the sanction of Christian custom, should be revived. Possibly they are better left alone. "The old order changeth," etc. On the other hand, the time may come for their revival, if not in the same form, in a different one. That usage, in some form, deserves to be restored which promotes devotion, humility, charity. - C.
I. THEY RECOGNIZED THEIR UNITY AS THE PEOPLE OF GOD. They went back in thought to the time when they were bound together in the strong bond of a common sorrow; when they were a suffering people bent beneath the same yoke, bleeding with the same blows; and they recognized the fact that they were all the children of their fathers to whom Moses came as the great prophet and saviour. And the lamb of which they partook, with not a bone of its body broken, was the symbol of the national unity.
II. THEY REJOICED IN A GREAT DIVINE DELIVERANCE - A DELIVERANCE THROUGH SACRIFICE. The prevailing thought of the whole institution was God's merciful and mighty interposition on their behalf, redeeming them from the land of bondage and misery, bringing them out into liberty and happiness, and constituting them a nation, holy unto himself. And closely connected with the main idea of deliverance was that of sacrifice; they commemorated the fact that through the sacrifice of a slain lamb they had been spared and redeemed.
III. THEY HAD FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER. The Feast of the Passover and of Unleavened Bread was one in which they rejoiced together both as families and as a congregated nation "before the Lord." Then they had true fellowship with one another, meeting and greeting one another as members of the same redeemed nation, whom the Lord had pitied and restored; and while they were thus gladdened in heart as they associated one with another, they were also solemnized by the thought that they met together in the city of God, in the courts of the Lord's house, in his own presence. Theirs was a sacred union and communion; it was fellowship with the Supreme. When we meet, as Christian men, in ordinary worship, and more particularly when we gather together at the Lord's table, we are moved and animated by this same spirit, by these same convictions and considerations.
1. We realize our essential unity, our oneness in Jesus Christ. Are we not all members of that race on which, in all its distance from the home of God, he had compassion and which he stooped to save? Are we not bound together, not only as partakers of the same human nature, but as those who have bowed beneath the same yoke, who have needed the same Divine Redeemer, who have suffered in the same affliction?
2. We rejoice together in the same glorious redemption - a redemption that
(1) not only was designed and begun, but was triumphantly completed;
(2) a redemption which, in its spiritual character and its everlasting issues, dwarfs even such a great national deliverance as that which this Passover commemorated;
(3) a redemption which could only be (and was) accomplished through the sacrifice of the "Lamb of God," slain from the foundation of the world for the recovery of the world.
3. We meet to have holy and happy fellowship with one another, and also hallowed and elevating fellowship with our Father and his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). - C.
I. JOSIAH'S MILITARY EXPEDITION. (Ver. 20.) Seemingly the only expedition in his reign.
1. When it took place. "After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple;" i.e. after the eighteenth year of his reign, in point of fact, thirteen years after (2 Chronicles 34:1).
2. Against whom it was directed. Necho King of Egypt; in Egyptian, Neku, son of Psammatik I., the illustrious founder of the Saitic or twenty-sixth dynasty, and grandson of Necho I., of the twenty-fifth or Ethiopian dynasty, Necho II. ascended the throne of the Pharaohs in B.C. 612, and reigned sixteen years. A warlike and adventurous prince, he was likewise devoted to commercial pursuits; he possessed two fleets of Greek-made triremes, one in the Mediterranean and another in the Red Sea. In his service Phoenician sailors were the first to circumnavigate Africa (Herod., 4:44).
3. For what reason it was projected. To oppose Necho, who was on his way through Palestine towards Carchemish on the Euphrates, to fight against the King of Assyria. Whether this sovereign was "King of Assyria proper" - in which case he would most likely be Esarhaddon II., the last ruler of Nineveh - or whether he was the Babylonian monarch Nahopolassar, who seized the empire after the overthrow of the Assyrian power, cannot be conclusively determined, although the best authorities favour the latter hypothesis (Ebers, Sayce, Rawlinson). In any ease, Necho, taking advantage either of the declining power of Nineveh, or of the still unsettled state of Babylonian affairs, resolved to strike a blow for the recovery of those Asiatic provinces which had formerly been subject to the Pharaohs; and Josiah, still regarding himself as a tributary of the Assyrian crown, and probably under Jeremiah's teaching (Jeremiah 47:25), dreading the rise of the Egyptian power, hastened to resist his advance ( B.C. 610).
II. JOSIAH'S PROVIDENTIAL WARNING. (Ver. 21.)
1. The purport of this warning. Before the two armies met, Necho despatched an embassy to Josiah, requesting him to desist from offering opposition.
(1) Because he, Necho, was not seeking to disturb or injure him, Josiah, but was aiming at Assyria - "the house wherewith I have war." Cf. Joash to Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:18, 19).
(2) Because he, Necho, was acting in accordance with a Divine commission, so that in opposing him Josiah would be guilty of resisting God, and would only bring ruin upon himself. In claiming to act under the impulse of Heaven, Necho probably meant no more than Pianchi-Mer-Amon of the twenty-fifth dynasty, who, when marching against Tafnakhth and other rebel chieftains, said, "Thou knowest what Amon the great god hath commanded us;" and again, "I am born of the loins, created from the egg, of the deity; the divine procreation is in me. All hail to him, I have not acted without his knowing; he ordained that I should act" ('Records,' etc., 2:84, 91).
2. The author of this warning. Though Necho may have had no other idea in using the term "god than that above explained, and though certainly it cannot be assumed that he understood himself to be the medium of conveying a Divine warning to the King of Judah, it is nevertheless clear that the Chronicler beheld in the incident the finger of God. Whether Jehovah actually put the words into Necho's mouth, or only permitted him to speak as he did, the Hebrew historian, perhaps judging from the fatal issue of the war, regarded the message of Pharaoh as a clear warning from Heaven which Josiah should have accepted. There is no need for supposing either that Necho spoke of Josiah's God or that Josiah's God spoke to Necho.
III. JOSIAH'S LAMENTABLE OBSTINACY. (Ver. 22.)
1. His rejection of the warning. He hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God." To assume Josiah knew that Necho was going against Nabopolassar with the express sanction of Jehovah, and that Necho's dissuasive admonition proceeded straight from Heaven, and to hold moreover that Josiah, cognizant of all this, nevertheless closed his ear against the voice of the Supreme, is to put the worst construction possible on Josiah's conduct; to understand the sacred writer's language as merely importing, that Josiah was not disposed to hearken to Necho's advice, and so failed to recognize it as "from the mouth of God," is probably to put upon the King of Judah's behaviour the best construction it will admit of. Had Josiah not been bent upon this war, he would have quickly discerned the prudence of Necho's counsel.
2. His determination to fight. "Josiah would not turn his face from him" (Necho), but pushed on and offered battle in the valley of Megiddo, Magdol (Herod., 2:159) - the modern Leijun, west of the Plain of Esdraelon, and near Taanach (Robinson), though a claim has been advanced for the modern Mujedd'a, "an important ruin in the Plain of Beisan, at the foot of Gilbea" (Conder). Here had. once stood an old Canaanitish town, of which the king was conquered by Joshua (Joshua 12:21), and which, though within the territory of Issachar, was yet assigned to Manasseh (Joshua 17:11). In later years Solomon selected it as one of his fortified cities (1 Kings 9:15). In Megiddo Ahaziah sought refuge when mortally wounded by Jehu (2 Kings 9:27). Megiddo had been the scene of a great battle between Thothmes IIL and one of the confederations of the small kings and princes of Palestine, B.C. 1600 ('Records,' etc., 2:35). Now on this historic ground the forces of Josiah and Necho come into collision.
IV. JOSIAH'S FATAL WOUND. (Ver, 23.)
1. The ineffectual disguise Like Ahah at Ramoth-Gilead (2 Chronicles 18:29), Josiah resorted to a customary but foolish and, in this case, useless artifice. Josiah should have ventured upon no campaign which demanded such an expedient. Had Josiah been sure of the Divine approbation, he would have needed no protection beyond the invisible shield and buckler of Jehovah (Psalm 91.).
2. The death-winged arrow. No coat of mail can protect a soldier, or stratagem prolong the days of him whose hour is come. Whether the Egyptian bowmen penetrated through Josiah's disguise or not, Jehovah did. If Necho's archers shot at random, the almighty and omniscient Archer (Lamentations 2:4; Job 6:4; Revelation 6:2) did not. Every shaft that flies from his hand hits. Josiah believed he was only fighting against Necho; Necho told him he was fighting against God. In this unequal contest (Isaiah 27:4) Josiah was of course defeated. "The archers shot at King Josiah; and King Josiah said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded."
V. JOSIAH'S UNTIMELY DEATH. (Ver. 24.) It was:
1. Immediate. The pious but mistaken monarch felt he had received his death-blow. Obeying his instructions, his soldiers lifted him from his war-chariot, and, placing him "in a second chariot which belonged to him, and was probably more comfortable for a wounded man" (Keil), conveyed him to Jerusalem, where he shortly after expired.
2. Untimely. What Hezekiah feared was about to happen to him in his thirty-ninth year (Isaiah 38:10), happened in reality to Josiah; he was deprived of the residue of his years. What another singer prayed against (Psalm 102:24) befell him, perhaps, notwithstanding his prayers - he was cut off in the midst of his days. In the language of a Hebrew prophet, "his sun had gone down at noon" (Amos 8:9). Considering his elevated character, the quality of the work he had already performed, and the promise of good for his land and people which lay, or seemed to lie, in his prolonged life, his death could scarcely be pronounced other than premature; it was all too soon for Jerusalem and Judah. Yet was it not too soon for God, who best knew the moment in which to fulfil his own promise (2 Chronicles 34:28; Psalm 31:15); or for Josiah, who was thereby removed from the evil to come (Psalm 12:1; Isaiah 57:1), so that his eyes saw not the calamities which forthwith began to descend upon his country (2 Chronicles 36:3).
(1) Mourned for by the people. When they buried him in the sepulchres of his fathers (ver. 24), or in his own sepulchre (2 Kings 23:30) - perhaps in one of the chambers of Manasseh's tomb (2 Chronicles 33:20) - the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem felt that "a prince and a great man" had been taken from them. They sorrowed for him as they had never before sorrowed for a sovereign, "lamenting and grieving on his account many days" (Josephus), with such an intensity of heartfelt anguish that even after the Captivity "the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon" became a proverbial expression for the deepest and truest grief (Zechariah 12:11).
(2) Lamented by Jeremiah. The most plaintive of all the prophets, who had commenced his ministry in the thirteenth year of the deceased sovereign's reign (Jeremiah 1:1), composed a dirge to keep in memory his death. Whether that elegiac hymn was recited at his funeral (Stanley) or not, it was placed in the national collection of such threnodies, and was long after chanted by the singing men and singing women who, on fixed days, were appointed to recall the memory of the good king.
1. The danger of intermeddling with other people's strife (Proverbs 26:17).
2. The folly of rejecting good advice, even though given by an enemy.
3. The probability that he who runs into danger unbidden will not escape unhurt (Psalm 91:11).
4. The certainty that death will overtake all, in such an hour as they think not (Matthew 24:44).
5. The loss which a good man's death is to a community or nation (2 Kings 2:12).
6. The propriety of perpetuating the recollection of noble lives (Proverbs 10:7).
his heart, too, "lifted up," that he thought himself and his people more than a match for the disciplined hosts of Egypt? Had he been attacked, and had he cast himself on God as Hezekiah did when Sennacherib appeared against him, then he might have hoped confidently for victory. But to contest with a great world-power on worldly principles was a supreme and a fatal error. He paid the penalty of his folly with his life. "His sun went down while it was yet day." So passed, needlessly and unfortunately, one of the best and boldest spirits that occupied the throne of Judah. Regarding his death as that of one early removed from the scenes of earthly activity, we are naturally affected by -
I. ITS EXTREME SADNESS. We are not surprised to read of so demonstrative and so fervent-natured a people as the Jews were, that "all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah;" nor that Jeremiah uttered his prophet's plaint concerning him. It was a time for profound sorrow; and even passionate grief might, under such circumstances, be excused. For the nation had not merely lost its chief; it had lost an invaluable leader, a king who was leading in the paths of righteousness and therefore of prosperity. There must come occasions to the country, to the Church, to the city, to the family, when one man's death will be felt to be a calamity. Very wise is that community, sacred or secular, national or domestic, that recognizes this fact and provides against it; that secures such resources, material or spiritual, that when such a blow comes everything will not be lost; that when its best is taken it has still much in reserve; that it is not dependent for the maintenance of its liberty, or its security, or its vigorous existence on anything so precarious as one human being's life.
II. ITS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Why did God not interpose to prevent Josiah from throwing his life away? Why did he let darkness come down at noon, and put an end to this bright and useful day? Why does he not now intervene between us and the death we speak of as premature? Why does he permit the young statesmen to overtax his strength and die in his prime; the young minister to commit himself to the treacherous tide and be drowned in the very fulness of his powers and the midst of his usefulness; the young missionary to expose his life to the savages who pierce him with the poisoned spear? We ask such questions, wondering, if not complaining, at the Divine inaction. But we might very justly and more properly ask ourselves another question - What right have we to expect that God will give to any man a particular term of earthly life that we may choose for him? Has he promised to confer any one length of days on his servants? Is not the gift of every added day a prolongation of his goodness and his mercy? Ought we not, rather than complain, to bless him for the number of years he does bestow - a number which is greater than our deserving? Would it be really wise or kind of our heavenly Father if he were always interposing to prevent us from suffering the natural consequences of our error or our negligence, because we were right at heart with him? Would that be the way to discipline, to purify, to perfect his children? No! when God lets death
"Descend in sudden night III. ALLEVIATING ASPECTS OF IT. No doubt, when Josiah found that he was "sore wounded," and that he could not recover, he would grieve more or less, as Hezekiah did. But as he confronted death he would become reconciled to the will of God, and he would, probably, have some hope concerning himself for the future, and would entrust his country to the care of God. But we have a much larger measure of alleviation than Josiah had. For there has visited us and spoken to us that Divine One who is the Resurrection and the Life indeed. And in the light of his revealing truth, and in the hope of his gracious promise, we look upon death as introducing us into another part of the kingdom of God - another and a better; a sphere from which sin is shut out; - and not only sin, but weariness and disappointment and sorrow; a sphere that will be ever brightening and broadening as added years reveal in us and to us "enlarged and liberated powers.' - C.
III. ALLEVIATING ASPECTS OF IT. No doubt, when Josiah found that he was "sore wounded," and that he could not recover, he would grieve more or less, as Hezekiah did. But as he confronted death he would become reconciled to the will of God, and he would, probably, have some hope concerning himself for the future, and would entrust his country to the care of God. But we have a much larger measure of alleviation than Josiah had. For there has visited us and spoken to us that Divine One who is the Resurrection and the Life indeed. And in the light of his revealing truth, and in the hope of his gracious promise, we look upon death as introducing us into another part of the kingdom of God - another and a better; a sphere from which sin is shut out; - and not only sin, but weariness and disappointment and sorrow; a sphere that will be ever brightening and broadening as added years reveal in us and to us "enlarged and liberated powers.' - C.