His name means: “Yahweh Supports Him”
His work: Josiah was the last good king of Judah, reigning from about 640-609 BC. Like his great-grandfather Hezekiah, he instituted sweeping religious reforms in Judah. Because of his faithfulness, the prophetess Huldah assured him he would not see the destruction that would one day overtake Jerusalem and Judah.
His character: Though Josiah became king when he was only a boy, he became one of Judah’s strongest spiritual leaders, a man whose devotion, obedience, humility, and repentance on behalf of the people helped for a time to restore Judah’s fractured relationship with the Lord.
His sorrow: That his reforms, which were not supported by those who succeeded him, occurred too late to avert judgment on Judah.
His triumph: So strong was Josiah’s influence that it extended beyond Judah to embrace the northern tribes as well.
Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 12:25-33; 13:2-3; 2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35
A Look at the Man
Josiah was one of twenty kings who ruled Judah during the period of the divided kingdom. Many of the kings who preceded him had little regard for preserving the spiritual vitality of Judah, absorbed as they were in the struggle to secure their own power. And even though his reign was one of the best and brightest, Josiah was incapable of reversing Judah’s steady slide toward paganism. Sadly, his reforms perished with him, and a few years later Judah suffered the punishment long prophesied.
Like few leaders in the history of the world, Josiah knew the outcome of his story in advance. God had told him, through the prophetess Huldah, that Judah would eventually suffer disaster because of its sins. Such knowledge could have prompted him to give up, to conclude that he was wasting precious time and energy on a lost cause. But instead of abandoning his reforms, Josiah stepped up his efforts. Refusing to be deflected from his life’s purpose, he continued clearing away the detritus of paganism in hopes of bringing Judah back to God.
The young king must have understood a principle we often lose sight of, namely, that faithfulness is more important than success. That doing what’s right, regardless of the odds, is crucial. Josiah must have known that spiritual greatness is measured not by victory but by our determination to use the power God gives us, however great or small, to further his purposes. Because of his faithfulness, the Lord spared him the pain and grief of witnessing the disaster that eventually overtook the land he loved.
Like Josiah, we sometimes face situations that seem impossible: a difficult marriage, a challenging job, a divided church, or life in a world that sometimes despises the things we cherish most. We wonder how anything good can result from the current course of affairs. Unlike Josiah, we don’t know the outcome in advance. None of us can preclude the possibility that our circumstances will radically change for the better. But like him, we can remember that God never requires us to be successful, only faithful.
Reflect On: 2 Kings 22:3–20
Praise God: For hearing the prayers of the humble.
Offer Thanks: For the freedom we have to worship him.
Confess: Any self-righteousness that keeps you from identifying with the sins and failures of God’s people.
Ask God: To renew the church, so that all of his people may worship him in spirit and truth.