2 Kings 22:2
And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of David his forefather; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
Early Piety2 Kings 22:2
Example for RoyaltyT. Hughes.2 Kings 22:2
Josiah an Example for Young MenFrederic Walstaff.2 Kings 22:2
Traits of Youthful ReligionE. Monte.2 Kings 22:2
Josiah: the Temple Again RepairedJ. Orr 2 Kings 22:1-7
A Monarch of Rare Virtue, and a God of Retributive JusticeDavid Thomas, D. D.2 Kings 22:1-20
A Monarch of Rare Virtue, and a God of Retributive JusticeD. Thomas 2 Kings 22:1-20
Josiah and the Book of the LawMonday Club Sermons2 Kings 22:1-20
Josiah's ReformationAlex. Whyte, D. D.2 Kings 22:1-20
The last days of Judah as an independent kingdom are fast hastening to a close. The people, in spite of all God's merciful dealings with them, in spite of all the judgments and warnings which he had sent to their fathers, in spite of the influence and example of good kings and holy prophets whom he had raised up, were becoming worse and worse. More than a hundred years before, God had already abolished the kingdom of Israel, when the ten tribes were led away into captivity. And now for their great idolatries the destruction of the kingdom of Judah also is close at hand. In the midst of this period of decline and decay Josiah came to the throne to redeem for a time the history of his nation, and for a time to save it from its impending doom.

I. JOSIAH'S EARLY DEVOTION. We read that in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father. He was then sixteen years of age.

1. He began to seek after God in a time of almost universal godlessness and corruption. It is almost impossible for us to conceive the depth of degradation to which the nation had sunk. Two wicked kings in succession had undone all the reforms of good King Hezekiah. The first of these was Hezekiah's own son, Manasseh, the second was Manasseh's son, Amon. Manasseh worshipped all the host of heaven, and built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. He set up the worship of Moloch, which is almost too terrible to describe (see above on 2 Kings 16:1-20). He made his own son to pass through the fire to Moloch. He introduced not only the horrid cruelty of heathenism, but also its most filthy lusts. The reign of Amon was no better, but worse. He revived, and continued all the idolatries and all the corruption of his father's reign. It was at such a time as this that, when Amon died, his son Josiah, then only eight years old, came to the throne. At such a time as this he began to seek after the Lord his God.

2. Moreover, he was the son of a godless and wicked father. All the influences which surrounded him seem to have been unfavorable to the growth of true religion and the fear of God. But Josiah determined that, as for him, he would not bow down to idols, that he would serve the Lord only. And God gave him strength to serve him, and crowned his subsequent efforts with blessing and success. Learn here the folly of excusing yourself from serving God by the circumstances in which you are placed. You are responsible to God for your own life, and for your own conduct, no matter how others may act. It may cost us many a hard struggle to resist the temptations that surround us on every side; but it always succeeds in the end. You may be children of ungodly parents; you may be at service in ungodly households; you may be thrown by your business among ungodly companions and surroundings; - no matter! God expects you to be faithful unto him. Young men, Josiah's early devotion is a bright example for you to follow. Never suffer yourselves to be led astray by the notion that religion is an unmanly thing. The truly religious man is the noblest and most perfect man. He is great in all that constitutes true manhood. And if you want to find the greatest heroes in the world's history, you will find them, not among the followers of the world's fashion and the world's pleasure, but among the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and humble Christians in the Church of God. It is the highest aim any young man can set before him to be a humble and devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Never mind what circumstances or companions surround you, except to try and make them better. Joseph was faithful to God in Egypt. His faithfulness sent him to a prison for a time; but afterwards it raised him to be the greatest man in Egypt after the king. Daniel was faithful to God in Babylon, though he knew well it was at the risk of his life. His faithfulness brought him for a little while to the lions' den; but it afterwards made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon. It is true heroism to be ready to suffer - to suffer bodily pain, to suffer the loss of worldly goods, yes, to suffer even the loss of reputation itself, for the sake of truth and purity and right. Like Josiah, the sooner you begin to serve God the better. You will never regret it.

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth."

II. JOSIAH'S WORK OF REFORMATION. (Ver. 3. - 2 Kings 23:25.) Here also he began very early to do what he believed to be right. It was in the twelfth year of his reign - when he was only twenty years old - that he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places and the idols. Then in the eighteenth year of his reign - when he was twenty-six years old - he began to repair the house of the Lord, which had been long disused and neglected. God so prospered him in this work that the people brought large sums of money for the repairing of the temple. It was when this was being done that Hilkiah the priest found in the temple the book of the Law. There it lay, probably all covered with dust, like the unused Bible in many a home, a silent reproof to those who should have known what was right but did not do it. When the book of the Law was read to the king, he rent his clothes, in sorrow and in shame, when he thought of how the Law of God had been broken and neglected. It was determined that it should be so no longer, and, having gathered all the people together, he read in their ears all the words of the Law. Then, standing on a pillar, he made a covenant that they would serve the Lord and keep his commandments, and all the people agreed to it. After this was done, he appointed a solemn Passover to be kept by all the people. And it is said, "Surely there was not holden such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, wherein this Passover was holden to the Lord in Jerusalem" (2 Kings 23:22, 23). It was a marvelous work for a young king to have accomplished in the twenty-sixth year of his age. He found the land full of idolatry and corruption. But he had already pulled down the altars, and burned the idols, and swept away the dens of vice. He found the temple closed, neglected, and in decay. He had already repaired it and restored the worship of the true God. He found the Law of God forgotten, forsaken, and unknown - the temple copy of it hidden away out of sight. He had already restored it to its proper place as the ruling principle of his government and of the nation's life. Truly a marvelous work for a young king of twenty-six. We see here, as we have seen in the life of Hezekiah, the power of decision for what is right. Josiah was not content merely to know God and serve him by himself. He was determined that, so far as he had any influence, others should know and serve God too. He might have said, in the spirit of many lukewarm Christians of modern times, "What matters it? They have their religion, and I have mine." He might have said that, as a ruler, he had nothing to do with his people's religion, but only with their conduct as members of the state. Not so. He knew that it is religion, or the want of it, which makes or mars the happiness and prosperity of the nation. He knew that, as a servant of God, he was bound to bear his testimony and to use every influence in his power against sin and in favor of what was right. And so he acted, not with half-measures, not with half-hearted hesitation, but with firmness, fearlessness, promptness, and determination, as becomes one who is doing the work of God. And so, also, God stood by him, and gave him success in all his work. Such an example is full of instruction for our modern life. Never be a consenting party, even by your silence, to what your conscience tells you is wrong. Never consent, even by your silence, to anything dishonoring to God or not in accordance with his will. Never be a consenting party to anything that you would be ashamed of in the sight of God and men - to acts of injustice to others, to dishonesty or unfairness of any kind, to profanity, to neglect of Sunday observance, or any other form of prevailing wickedness. "O my soul, come not thou into their secret; with their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united." Like Josiah, we can never begin too soon, not only to serve God ourselves, but also to bring others to him. Like Josiah, let every servant of God show the reality of his and her religion by deeds of usefulness, by bearing testimony against sin, and by unwavering firmness in the cause of Christ and duty.

III. JOSIAH S EARLY DEATH. Josiah died at an early age. He was mourned for with great lamentation. Some think that it is of him that Jeremiah, in his Book of Lamentations, speaks when he says, "The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of Jehovah, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen." The passage perhaps indicates how great was the influence for good, which Josiah exercised, and how much the people depended upon him as their leader and defender. His early death, before he had completed his fortieth year, must have caused many to wonder at God's mysterious providence. But his work was done. He had really done the work of many lives in one. And so when servants of God are taken away in the prime of life - or prematurely, as we say - let us remember that God's ways are not our ways. In Ms sight their work is done. They have finished the work, which he gave them to do. Let us so use the precious time, which God has given us, that in our dying hour we shall not have to look back upon a wasted life. But let us live, as Josiah lived, a life of holiness, of usefulness, "redeeming the time." And then when we are drawing', near to the gates of death, we shall feel that for us they are the gates of heaven. We shall be able humbly and thankfully to say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." - C.H.I.

And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.
Of the young king, whose piety is thus described, it is also said in another place (2 Kings 23:25), "And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might" according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

I. THE PIETY OF JOSIAH AS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE POWER OF A GOOD EXAMPLE. "He walked in all the ways of David his father." Few influences are more powerful than that of example. The child imitates his parent; the schoolboy his classmate; the youth his playfellows; and so on through every stage of life. Note in what recorded actions of Josiah there were marks of an imitation of David's example.

1. The first of these in order of time was his attachment to God's house, and his devotion to God's service.

2. His love to the. Word of God. Turn to the narrative in 2 Chronicles 34:14-21. David said of the man who is blessed, that "his delight is in the law of the Lord." There is no book more valuable to the young,

3. His reverence for godly men (2 Kings 23:15-18). We know enough of David's life to recognise in this respect for a man of God an imitation of his example. The servants are to be revered; to be "esteemed very highly for their works' sake." Goodness is always worthy of regard; and he who does not respect it tells us that he has no goodness in himself to be respected.

II. THE PIETY OF JOSIAH AS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE STRICT INTEGRITY OF GODLINESS. "He turned not aside to the right hand, nor to the left. The man of the world may turn his creed and shape his course according to the fashion of the varying hour"; but not the Christian. He must bear in mind the words of wisdom: "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee."

1. Josiah was not influenced by the force of ancient custom, when that custom ran counter to the course pointed out by conscience.

2. He was not influenced by any feeling of false shame. When the book of the law was found and read before him, he rent his clothes, feeling that he was a sinner.

III. THE PIETY OF JOSIAH ILLUSTRATES THE COURSE OF LIFE THAT ENSURES DIVINE APPROVAL. "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord." It is comparatively easy to pursue a course that seems right to ourselves, or that may secure the applause of the world. It is a widely different matter so to live as to ensure the approval and commendation of God.

1. By far the greater part of men seem to live for self. They have no care or consideration for others. Selfishness is the vilest principle that ever spread in this world.

2. Others care most about the approval of the world. These are selfish coo. It is because that applause is gratifying to their selfish vanity. The man who would lick the dust to secure the favour of a fellow-mortal would sacrifice his dearest friend to gain.

3. They only are godlike who do and love that which is holy and true; who live not for themselves, but for others and for God. Application — Have an object in life! Live! Do not be content with mere existence. Remember, there is but one unfailing condition of true greatness and that is goodness.

(Frederic Walstaff.)

There is at the top of the Queen's staircase in Windsor Castle a statue from the studio of Baron Triqueti, of Edward VI. marking with his sceptre a passage in the Bible, which he holds in his left hand, and upon which he earnestly looks. The passage is that concerning Josiah: "Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left." The statue was erected by the will of the late prince, who intended it to convey to his son the Divine principles by which the future governor of England should mould his life and reign on the throne of Great Britain.

(T. Hughes.)

1. Josiah began to reign when he was eight years old, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. He ascended the throne when vice had taken deep root in the people, and national faults had become stereotyped in the Jewish character. His character and his conduct are exactly those which, judging from reason or historical experience, we should expect from the freshness and energy of a religious boy. That character is thus briefly summed, up by Huldah the prophetess: His heart was tender, his humility was great, he had given a quick and childlike credit to God's threats against the sins of the people, and had yielded a ready sympathy with penitential acts for sins in which he had taken no part, for under God's threats he had shed tears, and rent his garments and done his utmost to avert Divine anger. The acts which illustrate this character are seven in number, and inasmuch as they have a natural coherence and agreement with each other, I will sum them up. His first work was to repair the temple, his second to read attentively the newly discovered Scriptures, till alarmed at the threats against sin, he, thirdly, abased himself openly. He then commanded the destruction of the idols and priests of Baal, and the professed profligates of the land. He, fifthly, ordered the public reading of the Scriptures, he brought out to public notice the remains of God's saints, and lastly, proclaimed a public celebration of the Passover. Now these are just the acts of a fresh and rumple mind, and while many of them are the features of the early days of religion, which we would fain frequently copy, they are at the same time marks of the earlier stages of religion, and cannot be expected to exist in its later day. But while this is the case with regard to the individual character, these will be signs of the early days of a great religious revival, and will speak as much of the zeal of the social body as they do of the individual.

2. To reduce these reflections to some practical bearing, the following character is not uncommon amongst us. A child, a boy, a youth at home, at school, or the university is under the influence of religious principles; he studies attentively the Scriptures of God as they are presented to him through the received translations and interpretations of his day; he follows with earnestness and alacrity a pathway which he strikes out himself in which he has received his impetus from the wonderful coincidences of prophecy or the theological questions raised on the subject of faith and works; he is startled by the mention of the Judgment, and is so keenly sensitive to the subject, that the sublime awfulness of a thunderstorm, or the congregational singing of a hymn about the "day of wonders" will awaken the most sensible alarm in his mind, doter him from a fault, or drive him to an act of devotion and holiness; he will be so anxious lest he should be guilty of mixing too indiscriminately with the wicked and those that know not God that he will be inclined to draw far too rigidly the limits between good and evil, and will be inclined to decide on certain shibboleths of the world and the worldly minded, which will neither stand the tests of reason, scripture, or experience. Certain modes of amusement will be rapidly denounced as sinful which are merely made so by the unguarded or ungracious mind of him who uses them; and certain places and people are placed under bar and ban, which have in them no essential evil whatever. In proportion as the mind of such a youth is fresh in his religious career, he will be painfully conscious of the weight of a committed sin, and will find the flow of penitential tears spontaneous and natural Such will be the features of youthful religion, and such wore the features of the religion of Josiah. There are points in the earlier religion of the child which are ever to be kept in view through after life; lovely echoes of the sweet voice associated with the first can of God still sounding round us; as fresh water drops sprinkled with the kindly hand over the dim and dusty picture of the past; dreams of fresh and happy childhood rousing us to renewed vigour when we wake to the daily strife of life.(1) And first, a quick and sensitive mind and conscience is to be valued and loved; if we have lost it, we must strive by all means to rekindle it; if we see it still existing in another we should do everything to retain, encourage, and preserve it.(2) The second feature belonging to Josiah in common with youthful religious characters, is that which I called a deep and sometimes overwrought regard for the Scriptures of God according to their received translations and interpretations. It is natural that the young mind should rest with an exclusive attention on those means of ascertaining the knowledge of its own subject-matter which fall most objectively before its eye, and least dependently on experience and deeper philosophic reflection; consequently that means of knowing God's will, the written Word, is the one to which it will pay the most unswerving attention; so much so, as at last to form into a certain idolatry its regard for it; while to the mind of the advancing man the analogy of God's providence, the experience of passing life, the claims of the Church and human authority, the study of physical nature, and the lives of holy men gone by will afford at least equivalent grounds of satisfaction, if not deeper than that afforded by the written Word of God.(3) But another feature of youthful religion which it is well that we should truly estimate and not allow to overstep its limits, is the drawing rigid lines between good and evil men, with a view to radically extirpating the tares from the wheat. One important practical lesson that we learn in studying such a character as Josiah's is that we should look out for and admire certain graces in youth wherever we see them, but should be by no means discouraged if we find a comparative lack of them in ourselves. Each age has its own peculiar graces, and what is lovely and true in the child may become transcendental in the youth, and unreal in the man. In short, the features of religion are different in different ages. To one the characteristics belong which I have just described as existing in Josiah. In another we shall find others, a trust in close self-examination, a watchful eye on the course of God's dealing with the soul, and observation of His providential care and guidance, and of those deep inward visitations and communings which are so full of encouragement and comfort. In another we shall see the satisfaction arising from the study of holy men, their lives, their struggles, and their victories. In another, the strong dependence on the internal proofs of religion in the analogy of God's Providence and the power and force of the moral sense of man. The features of religion will be different in each, and we must neither force the existence or expression of feelings which, natural to another age, do not belong to ours, nor on the other hand must we despond if we do not see in ourselves many of the features which we admire in another.

(E. Monte.)

King Josiah, it is said, at eight years feared the Lord. , martyred at the age of ninety-five, declared that he had served God eighty-six years, showing that he was converted at nine years. It is commonly held that Jeremiah and John the Baptist, who are spoken of in Scripture as sanctified from their birth, were early children of grace. Coming down to more modern times it is easy to name many eminent servants of God who began to serve him in childhood, as Baxter, for instance, who said he did not remember the time when he did not love God and all that was good. Matthew Henry was converted before eleven. Mrs. Isabel Graham at ten. President Edwards probably at seven. Dr. Watts at nine. Bishop Hall and Robert Hall at eleven or twelve. (H. C. Fish)

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