Who was King Josiah in the Old Testament?

Josiah ruled as king of Judah roughly between 640 and 609 B.C (2 Kings 22–23; 2 Chronicles 34–35). He was the son of the evil King Amon and the grandson of King Manasseh. Josiah was crowned when he was just 8 years old after the assassination of his 24 year old father. This king was a godly man unlike his father Amon.

The young king had a deeply religious nature, in spite of the predominant apostasy. He began to seek after the Lord and began his work of reform in the 12th year by cleansing Judah of its high places, groves, and images (2 Chron. 34:3). And Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry in Josiah’s 13th year of his ruler-ship (Jer. 1:2).

Discovery of the Book of the Law

King Josiah sent Shaphan the scribe to the house of the LORD, in the 18th year, to gather a collection to repair the damages of the temple. This money was used to pay carpenters, builders and masons and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the temple (2 Kings 22:3-6). During this renovation, the High Priest Hilkiah found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD. And he gave it to Shaphan who in turn read it to the king.

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes because he realized how disobedient the nation had been to God. King Josiah was deeply stirred by God’s Word. He understood clearly that the path of disobedience would bring a terrible curse upon the nation, and that obedience would bring blessing, life, and prosperity. So, he wanted to inquire of the LORD concerning the words of this book as he felt that the wrath of the LORD was great (2 Kings 22:11-13).

The King inquired from Huldah the prophetess

So, King Josiah sent Hilkiah the priest and his most trusted servants to Huldah the prophetess, and they asked her what was going to happen to the nation based on the disobedience that has been rampant. The prophetess answered them, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants… because they have forsaken Me … But as for the king of Judah… 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 a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me… I will gather you to your fathers… in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place” (2 Kings 22:14-20).

King Josiah’s reforms

King Josiah made great reforms after hearing the message in the book of the Law in an effort to bring his nation back to God. He caused the book to be read in a solemn assembly (2 Kings 23:1) and he renewed the covenant of the Lord: “The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant” (2 Kings 23:3).

Further, the king destroyed idolatry (2 Kings 23:4), he desecrated the heathen altar of Beth-el as prophesied by burning a dead men’s bones upon it (v. 15), he kept a most solemn Passover (v. 15), and he put away witches and all sorts abominations (v. 24). Thus, the king did everything in his power to save the people.

The king finds favor with God

Therefore, God blessed the king because, “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him” (2 Kings 23:25). The Lord allowed Josiah to go to his grave before nation of Judah faced its final destruction (2 Kings 23:29). And the king was buried in Jerusalem and his son Jehoahaz became king.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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