Today’s reading: 2 Kings 13-25, Psalm 51
More killings, more idolatry, more disobedience. This story is getting way too familiar as we wade through the history of despicable characters who become kings in Israel and Judah. Then, in today’s reading, we get a shocker.
Boy king Josiah sends his secretary Shaphan as a messenger to the temple, where reconstruction is underway. When he gets there, Hilkiah the priest has a surprise message for him: “Look what I found!” he says, and presents the Book of the Law. How can it be that the founding documents given to Moses at Mt. Sinai, the ones that outline the terms of the covenant, have been collecting dust for generations? The people of Israel have gone so far astray that they long ago forgot this covenant even existed.
When the pages are dusted off and Josiah hears what they have to say, his action is quick and decisive. He calls for an assembly–mandatory attendance for all. The people must be reminded of the commitment that God made to them long ago–and the one they made in return. Later, as an act of their remembrance, he reinstitutes the celebration of Passover–for the first time in hundreds of years! The annual feast neglected for so long reminds them once again from where they have come, and who delivered them.
I have often thought that Josiah doesn’t get the props he deserves for his reign as king. After all, the writer of 2 Kings remembers him this way:
“Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.”
Perhaps we like our flawed heroes a little better because they look more like us. It is Josiah, though, whose unwavering commitment can inspire us toward greater faithfulness.