2 Kings 23:32
And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, just as his forefathers had done.
Josiah's ReformationJ. W. Mills, M. A.2 Kings 23:25-37
Lamentable Unskillfulness and IncorrigibilityD. Thomas 2 Kings 23:26-37
Pharaoh - Nechoh and the Jewish KingsJ. Orr 2 Kings 23:29-37

I. THEY WERE BROTHERS IN WICKEDNESS. Of each of them it is said, "He did evil in the sight of the Lord." What the particular sins of Jehoahaz were we are not told. But the sins of Jehoiakim are fully and fearlessly stated and denounced by Jeremiah. "Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is celled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it (Jeremiah 22:13-17). Injustice, fraudulence, selfishness, covetousness, oppression, violence, murder, - such were the main characteristics of him who should have been an example of the people. Selfishness and covetousness were at the bottom of all the rest. And are they not common sins? In the rich they lead to injustice and oppression; in the poor they lead to discontent ant envy and violence. The spirit of the gospel, by promoting unselfishness, would lead to fair and upright dealing between man and man.

II. THEY WERE BOTH WICKED, THOUGH THE SONS OF A GOOD FATHER. Even a good man may have had sons. Perhaps the home training they received was defective. Josiah may have been so much engrossed with the cares of his kingdom, and the reformation of his people, that he neglected the state of his own household. But nevertheless, they had a good example, which they neglected to follow. Jeremiah reminds Jehoiakim of this. "Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment, and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 22:15, 16). The privileges and the example they had received increased their guilt. "To whom much is given, of him shall much be required." If we have great privileges, we have also great responsibilities. Those who have been brought up in a Christian land or in a godly home will be expected to know better than those who have been brought up in a heathen country or amid careless and godless surroundings.

III. THEY WERE BOTH WICKED, THOUGH THE ONE HAD THE OTHER'S FATE AS A. WARNING. Jehoahaz was sent into exile for his sins. Yet Jehoiakim, who succeeded him, did not profit by the warning. None of us are without many warnings against sin. We have the plain warnings of God's Word. We have the terrible warnings of his providence. How fearful, even in this life, are the consequences of many sins! We have warnings against putting off the offer of salvation to a more convenient season. "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh."

IV. THEY BOTH HAD A MISERABLE END. Jehoahaz died in exile. Pharaoh-Nechoh put him in prison at Rihlah, and he died in captivity. Speaking of him, Jeremiah says, "Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country" (Jeremiah 22:10). What a pathetic strain! The love of the Jews for their native land was most intense. "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" "Yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." But, after all, what a profitless kind of patriotism theirs was! They loved their native land, but they were blind to its best interests. They did not remember the secret of true prosperity and well-being. They did not remember that "righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." They forsook him who was their nation's best Defender and unfailing Friend. A patriotism without righteousness will not benefit a nation much. Jehoiakim died at Jerusalem. But what an ignominious fate was his! Jeremiah had foretold it when he said, "They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister!... He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 22:18, 19). It was Jehoiakim who cut with his penknife the roll on which were written the words of the Lord, and cast the leaves into the fire (Jeremiah 36.). For this God said, regarding Jehoiakim, that he should have none to sit upon the throne of David; "and his dead body should be east out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost." Jehoiakim perished, but the Word of God, which he sought to destroy, was fulfilled. God's Word cannot be destroyed. Roman emperors sought to destroy it. The Church of Rome, for the exaltation of the priesthood, kept it from the people. "But the Word of God is not bound." Contrast the fate of Jehoiakim, who despised and dishonored the Word of God, with the universal lamentation that followed the death of his father Josiah, who honored God's Word and obeyed its teachings. - C.H.I.

And like unto him there was no king before him.
This and the previous chapter show us the influence of a godly sovereign. This prince at the age of twenty-six begins to repair the house of God. This leads to the discovery of the long-lost book of the law. At once Josiah obeys its teaching. He consults Huldah, and receives the Lord's message. Finding himself exempted from vengeance on account of his repentance, he endeavours to lead his people to obtain the same exemption, and for this purpose institutes a thorough national reformation. This, we read, consisted of

(1)purifying the temple of idolatrous vessels;

(2)putting down all idolatrous teachers;

(3)defiling all idol altars throughout the land;

(4)keeping the Passover in a solemn manner. From this we may learn —

I. THAT PERSONAL REFORMATION SPRINGS FROM A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S WORD APPLIED TO THE HEART BY FAITH. It was this that influenced Josiah (Psalm 119:130). "The entrance of Thy word giveth light" (Acts 17:11, 12). "Therefore many believed."


1. Undoing old associations, by —(1) Looking sin in the face, and comparing ourselves with our pattern, by the light of God's written Word (Philippians 2:5, etc.).(2) Cleansing the temple of God (2 Corinthians 6:16) of all that defiles.(3) Giving up all people, practices, and places which tempt to sin; e.g. cards, novels, balls, etc.: let each conscience decide for itself.

2. Doing, by —(1) Entering into a solemn covenant with God to obey Him, etc.; confirmation.(2) Publicly, as well as privately, keeping His commandments and wishes; Holy Communion.


1. Comfort and peace to those who carry it out. For thirty years Josiah's reign was a peaceful and happy one to himself. So soul-reformation brings peace to the believer.

2. A blessing, though it may be only a temporary one, to those who, even outwardly, take part in it. The punishment pronounced upon the land was deferred (2 Kings 22:20) till after Josiah's death, and a believer brings blessings on those around him.

3. The fulfilment of God's word (ver. 16 and Isaiah 5:11). The Christian rejoices in the fulfilment of Matthew 11:28-30. But notice two warnings:

1. No personal reformation can be effected without the guidance and grace of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8, etc.; Zechariah 4:6).

2. Personal piety cannot stop national punishment (of. Zechariah 3:2). Josiah has a grand epitaph written over him (ver. 25) by the finger of God. May much be ours!

(J. W. Mills, M. A.)12

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