Lessons from Kings of Israel

THERE IS A hymn extolling the wonders of God’s Word, which begins, “Father of mercies, in thy Word, what endless glory shines! Forever be thy name adored for these celestial lines.” Another poet describes Holy Scripture in this way, “‘Tis a mine, aye deeper too, than can mortal ever go. Search we may for many years, still some new rich gem appears.”

The Lord’s Word is most often stated so beautifully and simply, with explanations provided along the way of its meaning, that it is quite easy to understand. One example of this is where the Apostle Peter set forth some important time features of the plan of God. He told us of three worlds—one, a ‘world that was’, another described as a ‘world that now is’, and finally, a third ‘world to come’. (II Pet. 3:5-13) How graphically the apostle introduces the fact that in God’s great plan there are ages and dispensations—periods of time—during which a progression of events would occur, in a gradual manner developing the plan God had in view for the benefit, not only of man, but for all his intelligent creatures.

In between these three larger dispensations are smaller ones. Throughout the record provided by his Word, the Lord tells us about men of old—faithful prophets—whose writings explain and describe these time features of his plan in more detail—what occurred from the time of Adam’s fall until the great Flood cleansed the first dispensation of sin, and the saving of Noah and his family. God’s dealings with the patriarchs and the lessons taught through his relationship with the nation of Israel are also presented—the types and the shadows of the Tabernacle sacrifices.

Then, in its due time, came the central feature of the plan of God: the presence of our Lord in the flesh—the Logos who came down to this earth from his home in heaven to be the Redeemer, the Savior of mankind. The prophets of old had previously commended the glory of the plan of God as it was to be centered in this momentous event which so well exemplified the great love of God for the world—the gift of his dear Son. Then came the Gospel Age. Its purpose is explained in the New Testament, having previously been foretold so descriptively by the prophets of old. The writings of the Lord’s apostles, comprising the New Testament, were expository works containing explanations of many formerly obscure Old Testament prophecies.

In many portions of the Lord’s Word we find corresponding explanations of the same events—revealing, perhaps, slightly different aspects of them—so that the child of God in comparing them can better comprehend the purpose for them having been recorded and kept safely for benefit of the entire church throughout the age, as well as in our day.

But some portions of the Old Testament Scriptures have no stated lessons or explanations found in the New Testament. They are simply historical accounts of kings, or other less well-known individuals of long ago, with whom, and through whom, God dealt. The events of their lives are given to us in God’s Word just as they happened, and include their good points and otherwise. No one—neither the Apostle Paul nor any other apostle—says to those of us who desire to learn the appropriate lessons, ‘Now, this was the purpose of the life of this king and of his experiences. This is the lesson to be learned from what he did correctly and in harmony with God’s principles, and this is the lesson also from what he overlooked, and when he followed unrighteousness’.

But within the lives of those men and women there were lessons to be drawn of which the Lord wants us to be aware. By studying and meditating upon these accounts, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, we can benefit even from events set forth in wholly a historical fashion. The Lord seems to be saying to his people, ‘Read them and let your mind meditate upon these things, and see if you can glean their lessons for your benefit’.

King Uzziah

At the time of King Uzziah, approximately 800 years had passed in Israel’s history since their deliverance from Egypt, and the Lord had dealt graciously with them during those centuries. Think of that miraculous deliverance from Egypt which is still celebrated today, in a measure, by those who believe and understand. Then there were God’s ancient, faithful prophets, and the miracles performed through those men of God. There were the many deliverances which God brought to Israel through their judges, and through their good kings, saving Israel from their enemies. The Lord had foretold that this would be their portion when they kept the precepts of the Law to the best of their ability. This had been promised by God’s mouthpiece, Moses. The declarations were plainly stated: If Israel, as a nation, obeyed God’s commandments they would receive his blessings; if they disobeyed God’s precepts they would not receive his blessings or protection.—Deut. 30:15-19

A faithful king who believed the promises of God and, armed with these promises, went forth with the determination to keep the Law to the best of his abilities, was blessed, and the Lord worked miracles through that king. Contrariwise, when a king forgot God, when he did not take heed to the words of the prophet whom the Lord sent to him at that time, the Lord’s blessings were not with him. Prophets of God walked with these kings; their counsel was readily available to them. In some instances kings did humble themselves by and listening to their counsel; other kings absolutely disregarded the prophets; and some even persecuted them, and sought their very lives.

The life of King Uzziah is recorded in II Chronicles 26, and also in II Kings 14 and 15. Uzziah was sixteen years old when he was made king of Judah, and he reigned for 52 years. After the death of his father, Amaziah, who was king for only fifteen years, the young lad was made king by “all the people.” The Scriptures tell us that his mother’s name was “Jecoliah of Jerusalem.”—II Chron. 26:1,3

The life of King Uzziah is very interesting to us. Evidently as a young king, he had a fine spirit. It is said of him that “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah did. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the [seeing of God, Marginal Translation]: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” (II Chron. 26:4,5.) The Bible tells of his exploits in defeating the enemies of Judah and Jerusalem, how he built great towers, and fortified Jerusalem and other cities among the captured nations which fell before him, and of his great power that was demonstrated because God was with him. The record states that ‘he did that which was pleasing in the eyes of God’.

We read in 11 Chronicles 26:6-15, about King Uzziah’s wonderful achievements, and the blessings which attended him. He had a great army of 307,500 men (vs. 13) who were fit for war, and over them were 2,600 generals, lieutenants, captains, etc., who led this terrific force into battle. Is it any wonder that he was so successful in defeating his enemies!

This man leaned heavily upon his God, the God of Israel, who had promised that if they strove earnestly to live up to the Law he would cause them to be victorious over their enemies. In Joshua 23:10 it was said, “One man of you shall chase a thousand.” How great a victory an army would gain that numbered over 300,000—one led by a man who was inspired by his love for God, and who could in some measure instill in the men under him that same faith and devotion to the God whom he served! We read that “his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.”—II Chron. 26:8

In the 15th verse we read of Uzziah’s new weapons of warfare. Compared to the ‘new weapons’ that men have developed today they may seem rather tame, but in those long-ago years, they were new and threatening, and terrifying to the enemy. He had “made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks [corners of the walls], to shoot arrows and great stones withal.” Clever men of war had designed machines that could propel huge stones and arrows unassisted by the weight and the power of man. Because of these fearful ‘engines’ Uzziah became still more famous among his enemies which surrounded him. “His name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.”—II Chron. 26:15

What a reputation this man attained—both because of his skill in using “cunning men” (vs. 15) and “mighty power” (vs. 13), and also because of his faith in God. Look at the results of his competence as a leader: now there was a well fortified Israel—every city safe, with a strong army ready to defend it against any oncoming enemy. Here was a man who could utilize engines of warfare powerful enough to defeat any enemy that could come upon them, and who struck terror in the hearts of all the surrounding heathen nations!

From the beginning of his reign, Uzziah experienced an ascending career, and God was with Uzziah all the way. He was strengthened by his God who had marvelously befriended him until he was a great power to be reckoned with. Suddenly, seemingly, something happened to this king. “When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the Temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense.” (vs. 16) Evidently Uzziah thought, because he had great favor with the Lord, that he could do the work of the priesthood. After all, was not God with him, and acting through him marvelously? Now he decided that he would take over the office df the priests!

“He transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the Temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense.” (vs. 16) Immediately Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him eighty underpriests that were valiant men, rushed madly into the Temple to prevent the king from completing the foolhardiness upon which he had embarked. We read in the 17th and 18th verses that “they withstood Uzziah.” They chided the king, saying ‘You are not qualified to do the work of the priesthood; this is not your office and you are going contrary to the Lord’s Word.’ Notice the response of Uzziah to this censure of the chief priest. The 19th verse says, “Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar.”

He was marvelously helped by God until he became prominent, and then he began to credit himself for some of the accomplishments—some of the power—some of the glory. After all was he not responsible for many of the victories? Was the honor and stance of Israel among its neighbors not the result of his cunning, of his wisdom, and his power as a leader of men and soldiers? Ah yes, the weaknesses with which men in high places and low places, throughout the earth, and in all ages, are blighted because of sin, are selfishness and pride. These commonplace vices have a way of manifesting themselves if they are not completely checked, and double-checked, and overcome by the power of God.

And what happened to Uzziah? As a result of his foolishness in succumbing to pride, the Lord instantaneously sent a plague of leprosy upon this king. And when the priests saw his leprosy, they took him out of the Temple and he was separated from the people as, in accordance with the Law, all lepers had to be isolated. We read in the 21st verse, “Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several [a house set aside for lepers] house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.”

Yes, “He was marvellously helped, till he was strong” (vs. 15), and that became the point at which his departure from the Lord accelerated. Notice the end of that man who had such a wonderful beginning and progress as a king, who had done that which was pleasing in the sight of the Lord. When pride entered in, it destroyed all of the accomplishments of his former years.

The lesson is clear. We, too, must be “faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10) before we will be deemed ready for the honor and glory bestowed upon us by our God. It is not ours to claim before we have heard the declaration of our Father, “Well done, good and faithful servant; … enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”—Matt. 25:23

King Hezekiah

King Hezekiah also began his reign as a young man. He was twenty-five years old when his father, “Ahaz slept with his fathers; … and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.” (II Chron. 28:27) Although Ahaz “provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers” (vs. 25), Hezekiah was a righteous king—so noted for his good works that his history is repeated in three different places in the Bible. We find it recorded in detail in Chronicles, in Kings, and a mention in the writings of the Prophet Isaiah, who lived contemporaneously with Hezekiah. We read how he instituted reforms in Judah. “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done.”—II Chron. 29:2

Hezekiah despaired the fact that the Temple and its worship had fallen into decay, and he took definitive steps to reestablish religious life in Judah. True worship of the Lord God had declined to such an extent that it was obvious even to the young king who had just ascended the throne of Judah that something radical must be done to restore reverence of Jehovah. He began to arouse the people. ‘Where are the Levites, and where are the priests?’ he asked. “He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the Lord, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, and said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.”—vss. 3-5

Hezekiah continued, “Our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs. … Our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.”—vss. 6,9

“Now,” said Hezekiah, “it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, be not now negligent: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.”—vs. 11

So the Levites arose and gathered together, and sanctified themselves, and went, according to the commandment of the king, to cleanse the house of the Lord. The cleansing was completed in eight days, so diligent was their work. They cleansed all the house of the Lord, and the altar of the burnt offering, with all the vessels and the shewbread table, and all its vessels. Hezekiah was very pleased at their energy and eagerness. He rose up early in the morning and gathered together the rulers of the city, and they all went up to the house of the Lord and offered a sacrifice to the Lord on the altar.

Hezekiah had arranged this great feast and many animals were sacrificed. Great joy prevailed, and the Levites were set in the house of the Lord with musical instruments: harps, cymbals, trumpets, and with the instruments which had been ordained by David so many years earlier. “All the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.”—vss. 28,29

Previously, as Hezekiah observed the scene, he realized that there were too few priests who had sanctified themselves to take care of all the offerings. So the Levites, who had consecrated themselves and were prepared for the service, were brought in to substitute for the priests in offering sacrifices on this great occasion, “for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests.” (vs. 34) How the religious worship of that people had declined! The priests had neglected their responsibilities, making it necessary for the Levites to come in to help them in their work.

King Hezekiah sent letters to all Israel and Judah, and to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto the Lord God of Israel. But they could not keep it at that time, because, first, there were still not enough priests who had cleansed themselves sufficiently; and, secondly, the people had not gathered at Jerusalem. So he took counsel with his princes, and with the congregation in Jerusalem, and they decided to keep the Passover one month later. This pleased the king and all the congregation.

There is a lesson in Hezekiah’s experience with the lackadaisical priests which teaches us that when God accepts our consecration to do his will and not our own—to give our lives and all which we possess to God and his service—and when we have accepted the responsibilities and the privileges that go with that consecration, it is expected of us that we should fulfill these to the best of our ability and carry out this covenant of self-sacrifice. The Lord has given every one of us certain talents and he expects us to use these talents. If we bury some of them and do not use them, what will happen? In one of his parables, Jesus said, “Take therefore the talent from him [who has not used it properly], and give it unto him that hath ten talents [and has used them well].”—Matt. 25:28

If we do not use our privileges and talents in service to God, they will be given to someone else who will appreciate and use them properly. The Lord can very easily raise someone up to replace us and continue the work of glorifying his name, carrying forth his Word which we were neglecting.

Yes, the sacrificing went forward and there was great rejoicing, despite the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the priests. The Levites had shown themselves worthy by sanctifying themselves, and thus were given the opportunity and privileges of service. Hezekiah and the people of Israel were greatly blessed by the Lord because of their desire to glorify his name even under these unusual circumstances.

Hezekiah had a peculiar experience involving King Sennacherib and his Assyrian army—now on the march—which had defeated enemy after enemy. They had all fallen before him as the chaff before the wind. See II Chronicles 32:1-23. Sennacherib surrounded Jerusalem, sending his spokesmen to the city wall to carry on a conversation with Hezekiah’s representative. This is the substance of the conversation: The Assyrians said to the emissaries of the king, ‘Now look, why are you putting up a struggle? Do you think that you are going to stand in the way of this mighty army which has defeated enemy after enemy? Do you think that your God, Jehovah, is going to protect you? Look what happened to the gods of all these other peoples—they were all defeated by Sennacherib’s army. Their gods did not help them to defeat Sennacherib. Do you really think that your God is going to be powerful enough to defeat us? You are going to fall like the rest of them, and your God will not be able to raise a finger to help you.’

When Hezekiah’s emissaries returned to give him Sennacherib’s message, Hezekiah was deeply hurt. His God’s name was being blasphemed. He closeted himself in prayer, and unburdened his heart, asking the Lord God to glorify his name before this enemy. He pleaded that God would right the wrong of this arrogant boasting of the might of the Assyrian host, which bragged that they would sweep away Israel as they had done to their previous enemies.

How proper it was for King Hezekiah to turn to the Lord in his hour of need! Very soon the answer came from the Lord. What was the answer? Overnight the angel of the Lord swept through the camp of the Assyrians and nearly annihilated the whole army—only a few escaped to return to their land. The Lord rose up to meet the needs of his people, to provide an answer to the prayer of this righteous king who loved the Lord, and who prayed fervently to him, and who was a good influence among, and example to, the people of Judah and Israel.

Hezekiah became sick unto death, and he was told by Isaiah to put his house in order because he would soon pass off the earthly scene. Again Hezekiah, with contrition of heart, poured his soul out to Jehovah. Must he be taken away because of this sickness which had afflicted him? Had he not endeavored to serve God to the best of his ability? Was he not endeavoring to glorify the name of Jehovah among his people? God was not unaware of these things of which Hezekiah ‘reminded’ him. But because the plea emanated from a heart, which was completely dedicated to God, the Lord hearkened to his prayer.

God sent the Prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah with a message. It was this: ‘Now, the Lord has heard your prayer and he will extend your life fifteen more years; you will not die at this time, Hezekiah’. He sent some men with a lump of figs to put upon the pestiferous, poisonous boil that was sapping the strength of Hezekiah’s life. It healed him and he became well again, and he enjoyed life for fifteen more years. What a blessing came to Hezekiah, God honored his faith and his zeal. See II Chronicles 32:24-33; Isaiah 38:21, and II Kings 20:5-7.

Toward the end of his reign something happened to Hezekiah. He became well and began to prosper again, the Lord blessed him with much cattle, much earthly goods, much treasure in his house. He built up his treasure in his own palace, in his own home. Some ambassadors from Babylon who heard of his illness sent a letter to Hezekiah, complimenting him, and telling him they were glad that he was well again. They also told him they would like to visit his land to see some of the great things they had heard about. And they sent him a present.—II Kings 20:12-19

What do you think Hezekiah did? Do you think he sensed that this was a trap of his enemies from the north to spy out the land—did he recognize their ‘diplomatic attitude’ as fraudulent? Did Hezekiah get down on his knees and ask Jehovah, ‘Is it proper for me to invite these people into the land and show them around?’ Did he go to Isaiah and ask, ‘Isaiah, inquire for me of the Lord and see if this is permissible?’

He did none of these things. He invited the men into the land, showed them all of his works, showed them everything that his hands had brought forth—all the riches that were in his house and in all of his dominion! What happened to Hezekiah? All of a sudden the blessings from God were the result of his, Hezekiah’s hand, his work and it was his dominion as he was delighted in showing them off to the emissaries of Babylon.

Isaiah was sent to Hezekiah with this message: “Hear the word of the Lord. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.”—vss. 16,17

A verse in the account gives a clue as to how the visit of the Babylonian ambassadors affected Hezekiah in the latter part of his kingly reign. It is found in II Chronicles 32:31, and reads: “Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” Here is an explanation of why these events were included in the chronicles of the Bible. The Lord, as it were, withdrew himself from protecting Hezekiah to test his reaction to all the blessings and the favors which had been poured upon him—to see what truly was in his heart. And what did Jehovah find? Once again, Hezekiah showed symptoms of the deadly sin, pride. He had shown the foreigners the wealth of his riches, the treasures of his house, and the power of his dominion in all the land. To read that catastrophic pronoun when it is used in connection with a man who had served God so faithfully all his days until he fell, as Hezekiah had done.

The account of Hezekiah’s experiences ends with this statement, and again it is reflective of the mind of this king toward the latter part of his reign. He said to Isaiah, “Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken.” He accepted Isaiah’s judgment as given in verses 16 and 17. But then he added, “Shall there not be peace and truth in my days?” (II Kings 20:19) Was Hezekiah concerned with the effects of his wrongdoing upon the succeeding generations of Israel? No. He said, ‘At least there will be peace in my day!’ He was simply concerned with his own short lifetime—that it would be good in his day! Was he contrite before Isaiah the prophet for the sin which he had committed? Not a word is recorded. Did he regret it? Did he bemoan the fact that succeeding generations must pay the price of his sins? Not a single word. The recorded fact sits there for us to look into, to think about, and to find therein the lessons which God has hidden in the pages of history concerning this king of Israel.


We come to Manasseh who reigned fifty-five long years in Judah. Manasseh was one of the worst kings that ascended to the throne. We may wonder why God permitted this king to reign fifty-five years—the longest reign in all the history of the kings—yet he was one of the most evil kings who sat upon the throne of the Lord in Jerusalem. When we read the account and the offenses he committed we are appalled! He built treasures; he built heathen groves; he built statues to every god underneath the sun. Idol worship flourished rampantly in all Israel, in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and King Manasseh was at the forefront leading his people into this idolatrous worship.

He shed more innocent blood in Jerusalem than had been shed in the life of any king, until he came on the throne. Yet the Lord permitted Manasseh to reign longer than any previous ruler in the history of the kings. Why? Why does the Lord permit these things? Why did not the Lord cut this man off, and end the evil to which he was subjecting God’s people?

From the account it is clear that sometimes the Lord does not cut off evildoers. He permits them to have their way even in the midst of the Lord’s people. Sometimes God allows those who are truly his to suffer under such a situation to see how they react. Do they rise up to the occasion and point out to the one involved his wicked ways? Was there even one priest who spoke a word against Manasseh?

When King Manasseh came into the very courts of the Temple and erected statues and images to Baal, and to every star and Zodiac sign in the sky, there was not one priest who rushed—as they had done in the days of Uzziah—to stop the madness of the king. Not one! Was there a Levite who spoke up? Not a one. The Lord permitted events to deteriorate to their lowest level.

But there was an interesting fact about King Manasseh. He was taken prisoner by the Assyrians and Babylonians—they defeated him in battle, and they treated him very roughly. They put him in chains, dragged him through thorns, humbled him to the lowest depths that a man could be humbled—one who had been a highly honored king previous to this. Then something strange happened. The Lord turned the tide of events so that Manasseh was released to go back to his throne in the kingdom.

Manasseh learned the lesson God desired to teach, and he was humbled by those terrible experiences. He gave the orders to the people to tear down the very gods that he had previously set up for worship in Judah—the heathen groves, the altars, and the statues. The people dragged the remnants of these shrines and altars and statues down the incline into the valley of Kidron, and there smashed them to pieces.

But Manasseh could not undo in the remaining short space of his lifetime all the evil he had done prior to this time of his reformation. He had committed much too much evil to purge it all away before he died. He tried very hard toward the end of his life to make amends, but he found that he could not expunge the evil he had done with the good he tried to accomplish at the end of his reign as a king.

You see here an example of the effects of a bad influence which had been begun earlier by a king in the lives of his subjects. Even though he later reformed and took an entirely different path away from his previous evil course by turning to the Lord with all his heart, still he could not completely erase the effects of the evil that he had perpetrated prior to his reformation.

Is it not odd that idolatrous worship of heathen gods so permeated the religious life of Judah—this people who were so greatly blessed by Jehovah, the one God whom they learned to love, and to understand, and know through the Law, through their prophets and through their experiences? They continually turned their backs on Jehovah, and degenerated time and time again into the worship of false gods. We must take heed that we do not do the same, although our idols would be different, more insidious types of idols. It seems that there was a constant parade of idols either coming or going during the period of Judah’s decline during the reign of their kings. One king would use the resources of Judah to raise idols and plant groves for the worship of heathen gods, and the next one would come along and cast them down, shattering them, and sending their broken pieces down into the valleys below.

What does this ancient history of Israel have to do with us? We are not indulging in idol worship, are we? The Apostle John wrote in his day: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21) No, we do not set up metal, or wooden, or clay, or marble statues around our home or around the buildings where we worship. But we can indeed be guilty of idolatry in a different shape and form. We know the idols that can be raised up in our hearts which displace true reverence for our Heavenly Father, and we know how much time, energy, and means consecrated to God and his service can be sapped away and diverted into other channels—into whatever idolatrous worship we set up in our hearts and lives to replace him. On the surface, they are so innocent. We do not mean any harm by spending our time, efforts, and money on these ‘gods’. But after a while that which was once devoted exclusively to God and his service is diverted to the service of something else. “Little children,” the Apostle John says, “keep yourselves from idols.”

King Josiah

King Amon succeeded Manasseh. He reigned only two years. He was so evil his own people cut him off! Then Josiah came upon the throne at the tender age of just eight years old. He was just a young child, but he was given the heavy task of reigning over God’s chosen people, Judah. He became an extraordinarily fine king. The marvelous fact about Josiah’s reign was that his reformation in Judah, had been prophesied some 350 years before he came upon the scene. This had never happened in the life of any previous king who reigned upon the throne of Jerusalem. Centuries before, the work that Josiah would perform was spoken of by a man of God.—See I Kings 13:2.

Josiah fulfilled this prophecy beautifully. What a reformer! Every grove, every image, down it came! He repaired the Temple which again had gone into decline. He rearranged the services of the priesthood so the worship of God could be carried on as before. A great king—a righteous king—what an influence he had on the people! But in the decline of this people of God from their inception to the time of their final dispersion there was nothing any prophet could have done, or any righteous king, for any sustained period of time, to stop this downward course completely. The people enjoyed periods of favor from God when they endeavored to keep his ways. But as soon as the good influences were removed through the death of the righteous prophets or kings, once again the evil tendencies to forget God, his goodness, and his Law, prevailed. Nothing could permanently stop their downward trend. God permitted it so that people would taste the bitter end of allowing themselves to follow their own evil courses in life.

It is baffling to read how good King Josiah lost his life in a battle in which he probably should not have become involved. (II Chron. 35:20-25) The king of Egypt had come up against the king of Assyria. Israel was in between these two huge powers—Egypt to the south, Assyria and Babylon to the north. Oftentimes, when these countries fought against each other their armies traveled through Judea, or bypassed that country by traveling along the neighboring coast. In these cases, Israel suffered greatly due to the invading armies use of their country for gaining entrance into their enemies’ lands. On the occasion described, the army of Pharaoh-Necho went up the coast to engage the Assyrian army north of Israel.

What happened? Josiah armed himself and led his men out to do battle against the Egyptian king. Pharaoh-Necho, the Egyptian king, said, ‘Josiah, I am not fighting you. My enemy lies to the north. Why are you meddling?’ “Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.” Then we read, “And the archers shot at King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded.” His servants put him in a chariot and “took him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchers of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.”—II Chron. 35:23,24

What is the explanation for this strange and sudden end of Josiah’s reign?’ What a history! What a reformer! But how did he end his career? Meddling in someone else’s business. Did the Lord tell Josiah to fight against Pharaoh-Necho? No. Did the prophet of the Lord go to Josiah and say “Josiah, arm yourself and fight this Egyptian king?” No, there were not any such instructions from the Lord. What a sad end to a glorious career. Even “Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spoke of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations. Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to that which was written in the Law of the Lord, and his deeds, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.”—vss. 26,27

There are so many events that happened to the kings of Israel contained within the confines of the pages of history from which we can glean lessons. The Lord leaves these lessons up to us to receive the benefits. Some of these we may have passed by, considering them merely as scraps of history.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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