05 October 2011

"The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant." (v. 3)


King Josiah and his predecessor King Hezekiah are the only kings of Judah who are regarded by the books of Kings as faithful kings of Judah. But what a difference there is between the response of King Josiah in today's passage (2 Kings 23:1-3) and the response of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:16-19) a few generations earlier.

When told that the kingdom of Judah would eventually be destroyed and its people taken prisoner by the great power of Babylon partly as a result of his own actions, King Hezekiah responds with the attitude that he doesn't really care as long as his own reign is successful.

King Josiah's response is entirely different. Despite Josiah's attempt at religious reform, God tells him that Judah is going to be destroyed on account of its unfaithfulness down through the generations. However, God does tell Josiah, that because he has been penitent and humble before God, God will allow him to die in peace without seeing the destruction of the kingdom (verses 19-20).

What an occasion for Josiah to either rest on his laurels or to sink into despair. Like Hezekiah, Josiah might have simply said, 'Whew, at least I won't be blamed for the destruction of the kingdom', or alternatively, 'What's the point in trying to make reforms when I already know that Judah is going to be destroyed?'

But Josiah did neither. Despite God's prediction of the fall of Judah, Josiah called the people to repentance, reform and to the observance of God's law.

Josiah was not held captive by either complacency or despair. He simply did the right thing and, as Paul would later write, he kept his eye on the prize (Philippians 3:14).

To Ponder

How do you respond to God when you despair that there may be no solution to your current situation or no way out of current difficulties?

In your own walk of faith, when have you found yourself complacent? What was it that shook you out of your complacency?

Bible notes author: The Revd Pam Garrud

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