(2 Kings 22:1-20; 23:1-3)
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. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
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: "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. 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 - the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are acting faithfully."
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. 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." 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.
When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king's attendant: "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 our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us."
Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophetess Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the Second District.
She said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 'This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.' Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.' "
So they took her answer back to the king.
—2 Kings 22:1-20 NIV
Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD -to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
—2 Kings 23:1-3 NIV
Think of an 8-year-old boy you know. How would you describe him? Curious, fun-loving, and playful easily describe most 8-year-olds. But could you ever imagine a child this age being responsible for an entire kingdom? The young King Josiah found himself in exactly this position.
Josiah became king of Judah near 640 BC and ruled for 31 years. Josiah’s most recent ancestors were notorious for their disobedience to God. Josiah’s father Amon was an evil idol worshiper. Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh is known as one of Judah’s most evil kings. Josiah took different path, however. He is one of the very few kings described as following in the ways of his ancient forefather King David.
Josiah might have known of former King Joash’s plan for refurbishing the temple, and decided to follow through on the temple restoration project. In the 18th year of Josiah’s reign, the temple was undergoing repair. Shaphan, the king’s scribe and treasurer, and Hilkiah, the high priest, oversaw the funds needed for the carpenters, builders, and brick masons to complete repairs.
Hilkiah and his workers discovered the Book of the Law and Hilkiah immediately recognized its importance. Some Bible teachers think the scroll was the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Others identify the scroll as the single Book of Deuteronomy. Whatever its content, this scroll contained admonitions from God and God had preserved His Word.
Hilkiah immediately recognized the importance of the book and gave it to Shaphan. Shaphan read its contents and took it to the king (now age 25). The words of the book spoke to the young king, stirred his spirit, and prompted him to repentance. Josiah’s reaction was very different from the former King Jehoiakim, who cut up the words of Isaiah (read Jeremiah 36:23-24).
Distressed by what he heard, King Josiah immediately tore his robes as an expression of extreme grief. Josiah realized how his forefathers had violated God’s Word; God had every reason to vent His righteous anger on Josiah and his kingdom. Josiah sent his attendants to the prophetess Huldah for help. Huldah told them that the words of God’s judgment would come to pass. God’s people, stated Huldah, had abandoned their covenant with Him and had sought idols. God’s approaching judgment would not be stopped. However, God would spare Josiah from the coming calamity because the king’s heart was right toward God. He would not execute punishment on Judah during Josiah’s lifetime.
Josiah assembled religious leaders. The people living in Jerusalem were also summoned to the Temple. The words of the book were read to everyone. Standing before the people, Josiah pledged to follow the Lord, obey His commands, and serve God with all his heart. The people responded by making a recommitment to obey God’s covenant. Contrary to the evil of other kings, Josiah led his people in worship and obedience.
Josiah revered God’s Word and sought to obey it. We must do more than say we believe the Bible. We must also obey it and do what it requires. Ask God to show you where you need to renew your faith commitment with Him. Ask God to grant you an attitude of reverence and obedience toward the Bible.