Josiah was only eight when he began to reign, but when he was still only a boy of fifteen or sixteen he “began to seek after the God of David his father.” Here is another story the Holy Spirit delights to dwell upon. Notice how much space in the Bible is given to Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah; and we will understand the delight of God’s heart in finding a man who would truly seek Him. It is a joy to the heart to see the young king, when Hilkiah the priest finds the Bible that had been lost and forgotten for so many years, finds it when they were cleaning up the House of the Lord, and repairing it. Josiah had never seen or heard of it before. Such was the condition that Judah had come to; and what a lesson to us. The Lord had said long before: “Ye shall lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt wire them upon the posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21.) But in the days of Josiah, and in the days of his father, that blessed Book was so neglected that neither king nor priest even knew of its existence. Little wonder the nation went astray. A nation without the Bible can do nothing else, and a family without the Bible will do likewise. My children, this is an urgent message to you. It is one that greatly condemns me; but you, you dear ones, you still have the opportunity. May the Lord help you to make your children more familiar with their Bible than ever I have done with you. Yes, may they learn to love that dear Book, and may they hide it, -not in the dust and the ruins, as the people of Jerusalem did, but in their own hearts. But it is you, the parents, who must lead them, (not drive them), to know, and love and honor this blessed Book.


          Hilkiah the priest gave the Book to Shaphan the scribe, and he took it to the king, and read it aloud to him: (just as my Parents used to do to us, until they made the stories live before our eyes); the king had, of course, never heard anything like this in his life, for he had never seen a Bible before. What was the result? He rent his clothes, and he wept before the Lord. (2 Chronicles 34:27). But he did more, he sent Hilkiah and Shaphan and some other to Huldah the prophetess. Perhaps Huldah had a Bible, I do not know, but she had a sad and solemn message for the good young king: “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to Me, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah; because they have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched. And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the Lord, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard; because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest His words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humblest thyself before Me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before Me; I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord. Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same.” (2 Chronicles 34:23-28).


          Such was the sad, sad message. Even such a king as Josiah, though he could defer the terrible punishment, could not avert it. The repentance of the king and people of Nineveh deferred the judgment of that city for many years; but the judgment finally fell. And Josiah was taken away from the judgment to come, while he was still a young man, only 39; just the age that God had told Hezekiah that he must die. How much better had it been for Israel if Hezekiah could have trusted his God; then Manasseh would never have been born. For Manasseh was in reality the cause of Israel’s death. He was determined to fight with Necho king of Egypt. God warned him not to do so, but he would have his own way, like Hezekiah before him, and he “hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to this servants, Have me away; for I sore wounded.” (2 Chronicles 35:22-23). He died and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah.


          Well they might mourn and lament, for with the death of Josiah the sands of Judah’s history were almost run out. We have only left the sad, sad record of his sons and grandsons. And the old question will come back, Why should such a good king have such bad sons? I suppose the first answer is the self-will that must have often acted before, or it would hardly have suddenly been so strong as to cause the king’s death. And self-will is a very subtle thing: many and many a saint of God who prides himself on his holiness, is in reality walking in self-will. It is liking my own way: and which of us can plead “Not Guilty” to such a charge? This humbles us all, and we have to own that it is the cause of many of our falls. It is not an easy lesson to truthfully say: “Not my will, but Thine be done!”


          But there is, perhaps, another reason given us in the Scripture, hidden away, as so often is the case with the sins of the saints, that one is almost ashamed to expose it. The prophet Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of Josiah: and he has something especially to say about the young princes, and the king’s children, (those very young men, who a very short time later became kings, and their sisters also). “I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” (Zephaniah 1:8). These are days in which our young people are greatly tempted to clothe themselves with strange apparel. But they will do well, and their parents will do well, to remember that it was this strange apparel that in part was the cause for the awful downfall of the Kingdom of Judah. The New Translation renders it: “foreign apparel”, and we see that, perhaps 150 years before, Isaiah had solemnly warned Israel of judgment to come because “they are filled with what come from the east.” (Isaiah 2:6; New Translation.) We understand these references a little better if we turn to Ezekiel 23:14-15; where we find that Judah was enthralled with the pictures of the men of Assyria “portrayed with vermillion, girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity; and as soon as she saw them with her eyes she doted upon them, and sent messengers into Chaldea. And the Babylonians came to her…”


          We saw that the beginning of the history of Israel in their own land, was marred by a Babylonian garment (Joshua 7:21); how passing strange that again it is a Babylonian garment that brings that history to a close. Babylon speaks to us of the world. It is the same place as Babel, meaning Confusion. And if we bring the things of this world into the things of God, there can be nothing but Confusion. In the early days of Israel’s history, there was spiritual energy to put the evil away; but, alas, alas, even in the days of Josiah, even in his own family, there was no such energy; and the king’s children wore openly that strange, that foreign apparel, (hidden in the tent in the early days of Israel’s history), but now boldly, openly worn, the badge and mark and proof where their hearts belonged. And the clothes our children wear are the badge and mark and proof of where their hearts belong, whether to what should be their native air of Heaven or the world and its fashions and ways. Alas, the world has found a welcome, and ready home, in the palace of the good king of Judah, and judgment must fall. The friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4). God calls such “adulterers and adulteresses.” Could language be more solemn? Oh, my children, as you love your little ones, let these weighty truths sink down deep into your hearts.


          I shall not try and trace the wreck of Josiah’s house. It is too sad, and you know it as well as I; or you may read it for yourselves. It almost closes the history of Israel and Judah. But we have still two or three more stories we may look at, before we close these meditations on the Old Testament.