Friday, May 16, 2014

Life Lessons From An Unsung King

“Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his mind and with all his heart and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him.” - 2 Kings 23:25

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I love reading, watching and hearing about unsung heroes. The little guy whose story gets overlooked. People who overcame great obstacles and circumstances and made a tremendous impact, but for some reason don’t get the same attention as the more flashier well-known heroes.

King Josiah, one of my favorite biblical figures, was one of those guys.

About 2,500 years ago, Josiah was crowned the king of Judah when he was just eight years old.


When I was eight, I was eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch while watching Rugrats. But here was Josiah, getting ready to lead an entire nation. No pressure, pal!

But what was incredible about Josiah wasn’t just the fact that he was young enough to still play in a bounce house when he took the throne. No, it was what he did afterwards that really stands out.

Against great odds and facing a culture that had lost touch with what was right and wrong, Josiah did something pretty spectacular: he went against the norm and established a legacy as one of Judah’s greatest kings.

This eight-year-old kid grew up and “did what was right in the Lord’s sight and walked in all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn to the right or the left” (2 Kings 22:2-3).

Here are six things we can learn from King Josiah’s life:


King Josiah wasn’t exactly set up for success. His family was pretty crazy (maybe you can relate). On top of being put on the throne at eight years old, his father (Amon) and his grandfather (Manasseh) had both been terrible kings, doing what was evil in the Lord’s sight — abandoning the Lord, practicing witchcraft and worshiping idols and false gods. Manasseh was so twisted that he sacrificed one of his own sons to one of these false gods.

We can’t choose the families we are born into, but we can choose to chart a new course for ourselves and the families we will one day start. It would have been easy for Josiah to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. He could easily just been another king who decided to stray from God and do as he pleased. But he didn’t.

No matter what your background is, don’t turn your past into an excuse for squandering your future. Start working on building a different legacy now.


If you think you are too young (or too old) to make a difference around you, Josiah would beg to differ. Again, he was eight when he became king of Judah and even still he had more discernment, wisdom than many of his older predecessors, proving that age really is just a number.

Whether you are the CEO of a large company or a freshman in college, there are people around you who you can help, encourage and inspire. Don’t let anyone tell you that can’t make a difference.


King Josiah had a choice to make when he took the throne. He could follow the example of his father and grandfather, or he could follow in the example of King David. He chose the latter, following the Lord with all his heart, his mind and his strength like no one before him and no one after him.

Find people who you want to emulate and learn from them. Read books written by leaders working in the industry you want to get into. Ask people who are in great marriages, manage their finances well and raise great children how they did it.

The most efficient way to becoming the kind of people God calls us to be is to follow the example of those who have been there, done that, and are living for an audience of One. They are out there if you're willing to look for them.


When the discovery of God's word made it clear to Josiah that the way his countrymen were living was not pleasing to God, he wasted no time.

First, he grieved. He knew what his nation had done and was doing greatly grieved and angered God, and he quickly humbled himself and softened his heart towards God.

And then he got to work. He did away with idolatrous priests and destroyed various altars built by his idol-worshipping predecessors. He tore down, burned down, smashed down, broke, crushed and removed everything that was detestable in the Lord’s sight.

Josiah perfectly illustrated what repentance, which is making a 180-degree turn away from sin and towards God, looks like in action. He didn't approach it halfheartedly — was willing to do whatever it took to follow God. God saw Josiah’s determination and the pure intentions of his heart and spared Josiah from witnessing the coming judgment that was to come to Judah.

Change requires action. Change is not going to happen just because we wish it would. What needs to be done away with, burned down, torn down and beat down in your life?


As a leader, it was up to Josiah to set the tone for the entire nation. He didn’t just talk the talk. He led the charge and the people followed his example. He didn’t ask others to do things he wasn’t willing to do himself.

In 2 Kings 23, Josiah gathered everybody from Jerusalem and made a covenant in the presence of the Lord to follow Him and His commands with all his mind and all his heart. After witnessing this, the people agreed to do the same.

If you are in a position to lead, the best way to lead is to take the initiative.


Unfortunately, Josiah’s life was tragically cut short because of one fatal mistake. Neco, the pharaoh of Egypt, was gearing up for battle against the Babylonians and Josiah made the ill-advised decision to take on Neco. Neco was not an enemy of Judah and had no intention of attacking Judah, but Josiah stubbornly decided to invite himself to battle anyway.

Neco sent the following message to Josiah in 2 Chronicles 35:21: “What is the issue between you and me, king of Judah? I have not come against you today but I am fighting another dynasty. God told me to hurry. Stop opposing God who is with me; don’t make Him destroy you!”

Josiah, at just 40 years old, didn’t listen and there was no indication that he sought God’s counsel before rushing in. He was then struck and killed by an archer on a battlefield he had no business being on.

Still, despite this tragic ending to his life, Josiah’s life was one to be applauded. He was a leader who led by example and didn’t use his past, his age or his surrounding circumstances as an excuse to settle for mediocrity. Instead, he left a legacy marked by faithful love, a humble and softened heart, and an all-in desire to obey God that he backed up with action.

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