Our scripture reading for today could be entitled, “The Power of the Word of God.” It is the story of good King Josiah of Judah. When he began his reign at the age of eight the nation was in disarray as a result of at least two evil kings who let the land return to idol worship and immoral practices.
After eighteen years Josiah was an adult. He began reforms, slowly at first, to return the land back to the worship of the faithful God of Israel. One of these major reforms was to repair the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. While working, they found what they referred to as “The Book of the Law,” a section of scripture that may have been lost or misplaced due to inattention or lack of use.
When King Josiah read it, he was cut to the heart with grief. He knew he needed to make quick and decisive reforms or suffer the judgment of God. Calling all the people together from greatest to least he read them the words of the Law. Then, following the example of the King, the people all repented and pledged allegiance to the Lord.
From that moment King Josiah devoted himself to making drastic reforms, cleansing the Temple of all pagan items, destroying places of false worship, and tearing down the violent and scandalously immoral idols. All the way to the end of his life, Josiah was faithful to the Lord. Perhaps this is why down through the ages he has been known as “Good King Josiah.”
(2 Kings 22:1-13) 1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”
8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”