We should put ourselves heartily into God’s hands for service and as far as our influence goes,
our endeavors should go to do good and bring the wickedness of the wicked to an end.
II Kings 1
1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2 And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.
3 ¶ And the king stood by a 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 their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.
4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el.
5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.
6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.
7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.
9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
11 And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12 And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.
14 And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.
15 ¶ Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
16 And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
17 Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el.
18 And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.
19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el.
20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.
21 ¶ And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
22 Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;
23 But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem.
24 ¶ Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.
25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that 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; neither after him arose there any like him.
26 ¶ Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.
27 And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
29 ¶ In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
30 And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead.
31 ¶ Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
32 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And Pharaoh-nechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.
34 And Pharaoh-nechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.
35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-nechoh.
36 ¶ Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
37 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
II Kings 1 – J. Vernon McGee
2 Kings 23:5-14 – Destroying Inducements to Evil.
Encouraged by the prophets Zephaniah, Urijah, and perhaps Jeremiah, Josiah set himself to the work of thorough reform, in which he endeavored to carry his people. The various items mentioned here prove how deeply the heart of the nation had become corrupted. In the very Temple itself were altars and vessels for the unholy rites of Baal and Ashtaroth. Multitudes of black-hooded priests filled the streets. At the Temple gates were the horses and chariots of the sun-worship. Around the hills glittered idol shrines. These were all swept away.
In all our lives there are times when we should carefully examine ourselves, – not by our own conceptions of what may be right or wrong, nor by the conventional standards which are accepted by our neighbors, but by the high and holy standards of the New Testament, – the example and precepts of our Lord. We are too prone to suit our conceptions of what he requires to the fancies or choices of our own desires, instead of testing ourselves by “the pattern showed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:5). If hand or foot or eye cause us to offend, we must show ourselves no mercy.
2 Kings 23:15-25 – Proving His Whole-Heartedness.
Josiah carried his drastic reforms even to Samaria, thus fulfilling a prophecy uttered 350 years before (1 Kings 13:2-3). The old leaven having now been cleared out, the Passover could be celebrated. We cannot keep the feast of joy and worship till the work of self-purgation has been undertaken (1 Corinthians 5:7). In that great feast some of the 10 tribes also joined. There was therefore an affirmation of the spiritual unity of the entire nation, though, like the professing Church of today, it was outwardly in fragments. We must never let go of our belief in the Holy Universal Church, however distracted and divided to outward seeming it may be.
Though these reforms were carried through by the king’s strong hand, the generality of the nation remained idolatrous and corrupt, and yielded a feigned rather than a felt repentance (Jeremiah 3:10; 4:3-4, 14; 5:1-3, etc.). Therefore judgment could not be averted. External reformation is not enough to secure the permanence of national life. We must rend our hearts rather than our garments (Joel 2:13). There is a sorrow that needs not to be repented of, and a sorrow which “worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
2 Kings 23:25—Like unto him was there no king before him.
This chapter is a marvelous record of cleansing and purging. We are led from one item to another of drastic reform. Nothing was spared that savored of idolatry. Priests and altars, buildings and groves, came under the searching scrutiny of this true-hearted monarch; and, as the result, it was possible to keep such a Passover as had not been observed during the days of the judges or the kings (2 Kings 23:22).
How much our enjoyment of the solemn feast depends upon our previous efforts to put away from our lives all that is inconsistent with the law of God. We hardly realize how insidiously evils creep in. Before we are aware, we have fallen beneath God’s ideal, and adopted the customs of our neighbors, or of those with whom we come into daily contact. All such declension hinders our joy in keeping the Passover. It is needful, therefore, that there should be times when we turn to God with fresh devotion, and in the light of His holy truth pass the various departments of our life under review, testing everything by the Book of the Law. In Josiah’s case, the sacred volume was recovered from long neglect; in our case it needs to be re-read in the light of higher resolves. This would be like a new discovery. Our ultimate rule must always be the will of God, appreciated with growing clearness, and used as a standard by which to judge the habits and tenets of our life. We read the Bible for purposes of a truer knowledge of God and His ways, and for spiritual quickening; but let us also use it more frequently as the bath of the spirit. Let us bathe in it. Let us revel in it as the grimy children of the slums in the laughing wavelets of river and sea.
2 Kings 23:26-37 – In the Hands of Heathen Foes.
Josiah’s life ended in terrible disaster. He persisted in measuring himself in battle against the king of Egypt in a quarrel which was none of his, and thus met his death. The events of this paragraph are fully narrated in 2 Chronicles 35, and are corroborated by the Greek historian, Herodotus, and by the sculptures on this Pharaoh’s tomb. The story of Jehoiakim should also be studied in the pages of Jeremiah, chapters 22, 26, 36, which cast a flood of light on these last days, when the sands in the time-glass of repentance were running out.
It is extraordinary that, notwithstanding the earnest expostulations of Jeremiah and others, and the awful example furnished by the fate of the 10 tribes, the kings of Judah and their people should be so persistent in wrong-doing. But their hearts were fully set upon evil. In our own time the history of the drink traffic furnishes a parallel. Its evils stand confessed, as they touch individuals and nations, and yet neither individuals nor nations seem able to cast off the coils of this serpent. The Hebrew race had to pass through terrible fires to become fitted for their mission to the world, and surely the present anguish of conflict is our parallel!