King Josiah was truly an extraordinary man and leader. Like King David, Josiah walked in all the way of the Lord, not turning to the left or to the right (22:2).
In the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah commanded the priests to do an accounting of the temple’s finances and to start repairs on the Lord’s house. During all this construction, one of the scribes found the Book of the Law, which was brought and read to the king. When Josiah heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes because he saw just how far away from God’s instructions the people had wandered. That anguish and repentance meant everything to the Lord.
“Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. “Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to you grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” -2 Kings 22:20
When God admonishes us that we’ve lost our way, our reaction determines our fate. For most of us, our first reaction is to get defensive. Like, who me? But, God, compared to that person, I’m doing so well! Those rules are so old-fashioned – no one has followed them for years!
But Josiah’s heart was tender. I’ve written before about having a heart of flesh – a heart that feels. That kind of heart, when it receives instructions from the Lord – including a reprimand – it humbles itself, repents and seeks God’s mercy. A heart like that is a rare thing indeed. But in the eyes of the Lord, it is everything.