In my last post, I looked at Good Hezekiah, Bad Hezekiah. Today’s it’s Good Josiah, Bad Josiah. I had always remembered Good Josiah. He has always been near the top of the list of the Good Kings of Judah. He brings back the Passover. His heart is fully devoted to the Lord. He repents when he hears of Judah’s potential exile (unlike Bad Hezekiah). He’s all good, right?
That’s what I remember, and then in my reading through the Bible in a year, I come across how Josiah died. He died at an early age. I always thought what’s with Manasseh an evil king leading for 55 years, and one of the top kings like Josiah gets only 31 years.
Josiah’s the good one. His leadership is summarized in 2 Chronicles 34:2, He did what the Lord considered right. He lived in the ways of his ancestor David and never stopped living this way.
It’s the “never stopped living this way” that’s always impressed me. He leads well. He finishes well. Good Josiah. Or does he?
In reading about his death, he takes on King Neco of Egypt. Neco warns him that he has no quarrel with Josiah, no desire for war. He even says God is with me. Then it says in the middle of 2 Chronicles 35:22, “He refused to listen to Neco’s words, which came from God.” Such a response leads to his death in battle around age 39 (a young age for a guy who just turned 52).
Bad Josiah doesn’t listen to God’s Word. That sets off my warning lights in life. Yet look at the source of God’s Word, it’s not a prophet of Judah nor Israel. It’s not the word of a Levite or a priest. It’s the word Neco, King probably pharaoh of Egypt. Not a profession usually associated with bringing a word from the Lord.
Did Bad Josiah go deaf to God’s Word because it wasn’t from the usual source or was it an issue of pride? We don’t know. We just know he had an untimely end.
Even with this vice (and outside of Jesus we all have them), Josiah is remembered for a life well lived in devotion to God. Makes me want to run the race of life well, to finish well. Robert Clinton in studying leadership in the Bible discovered most stumbled near the end of their leadership — Hezekiah had his conceit, Solomon his women, David his Bathsheba, and Josiah his deafness to God’s Word. Clinton discovered that very few finish well.
To run the race well does not involve coasting along in life, but committing to the Lord throughout life. Staying open to the Spirit’s promptings, when life is going good and when my life is going down a bad path. Like Josiah, there’s good and bad in each of us. Trust God to lead you through. His love will never let you go.