2 Chronicles 34:1
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.
JosiahAlexander Maclaren2 Chronicles 34:1
Josiah the GoodT. Whitelaw 2 Chronicles 34:1-7
Early PietyGriffith Johns.2 Chronicles 34:1-8
Importance of Early PietyW. M. Taylor, D.D.2 Chronicles 34:1-8
Josiah the Old-Fashioned Young ManD. Davies.2 Chronicles 34:1-8
Josiah's Early PietyMonday Club Sermons2 Chronicles 34:1-8
The Example of JoashT. Hughes.2 Chronicles 34:1-8

I. HIS EARLY ACCESSION. "Josiah ['Whom Jehovah heals'] was eight years old when he began to reign" (ver. 1). Manasseh, Uzziah, and Joash had been twelve, sixteen, and seven respectively when they ascended the throne. Generally speaking, it is perilous to have greatness thrust upon one at too early an age; sometimes premature responsibility calls forth capacities that might otherwise have continued latent. Edward VI., who assumed the crown of England in his tenth year, Charles IX., who was of the same age when he was raised to the throne of France, and Kang Hi (A.D. 1661), who became Emperor of China in his seventh year, were examples of the truth here stated.

II. HIS FERVENT RELIGION. Josiah's piety was:

1. Ancestral. If his father Amen was not a good man, but the opposite - an insensate idolater and a hardened trangressor (2 Chronicles 33:22, 23) - his mother Jedidah, "Beloved," the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath (2 Kings 22:1), may have been a good woman, who, like Eunice of later times (2 Timothy 1:5), nurtured her son in the fear of Jehovah. Besides, as that son was six years of age before Manasseh died, he may have received from his aged grandfather such instructions as disposed him to the choice of the true religion of Jehovah. In any case, in him was reproduced the piety of the best sovereigns that had preceded him - in particular of Hezekiah, Jotham, Jehoshaphat, and David.

2. Early. "In the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father" (ver. 3). Youthful piety, of which Scripture furnishes numerous examples - Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26), Abijah (1 Kings 14:13), Obadiah (1 Kings 18:12), John (Luke 1:80), Jesus (Luke 2:52), Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5) - while beautiful in all, is specially attractive in princes. King Edward VI., besides being a good linguist, "had a particular regard for the Holy Scriptures" (Bishop Burnet). That religion which begins in youth is most likely to be permanent, and certain to be most useful. Christ commends religion to the young (Matthew 6:33).

3. Sincere.

(1) Earnest and active, not merely nominal and formal: "He began to seek after the God of David his father," which meant that he inquired after and practised the rites and commandments of the true religion.

(2) Humble and obedient, not proud and self-willed: "He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father" (ver. 2), in so far, i.e., as he walked in the ways of Jehovah.

(3) Persevering and thorough, not intermittent and incomplete: "He turned not aside to the right hand or to the left" (ver. 2).

III. HIS ZEALOUS REFORMATION. I. The period of it. Beginning in his twelfth year of reign, i.e. the twentieth of his life, and terminating in his eighteenth year of reign, or the twenty-sixth of his life, it occupied six years in all (vers. 3, 8).

2. The scene of it.

(1) Jerusalem, the metropolis of the kingdom. Reformations, like charity, should begin at home. Many would reform others who have no heart to reform themselves (Song of Solomon 1:6).

(2) Judah, of which Jerusalem was the capital. Though "beginning at Jerusalem," Josiah's reformation should not end there. A good king will give his first thoughts to the improvement of himself; his second, to the improvement of his capital, where his court sits and whence his laws proceed; his third, to the improvement of his land and people; his fourth, to the improvement of cities, empires, nations beyond, as far as lies within his power.

(3) The cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, in their ruins round about. A good. king will extend his influence as widely as possible, and in particular strive to be helpful to those peoples in his vicinity that are less enlightened or more necessitous than himself.

3. The manner of it. With "The violence - probably hinted at in the phrase, with their axes" (ver. 6, margin). "The reformation executed by the king was earnestly intended; it was thorough, it was comprehensive; but it was above everything violent" (Ewald, 'History of Israel,' 4:237). This appears more distinctly from 2 Kings (2 Kings 23:4-20). But the extirpation of religious, no more than of political abuses, can be carried out without a degree of harshness. Privileged iniquity in Church or in state is always difficult to dislodge.

4. The extent of it. Judah, Jerusalem, and the Israelitish cities already mentioned were purged from high places, Asherim, images and altars (vers. 3-7). Particularly

(1) the altars of the Baalim were broken down in the young king's presence, the sun-images above them being hewn down at his command (ver. 4);

(2) the Asherim or "pillars and trees of Asherah" (Keil), with the graven and molten images connected with the impure worship of Astarte, were broken in pieces, and their dust (after burning) strewn upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them (ver. 4) - the Book of Kings speaking of the removal of the Asherah from the house of the Lord, and the destruction of the houses of the infamous women who wove tents for the idol (2 Kings 23:6, 7); and

(3) the bones of the priests who had sacrificed at the heathen shrines having first been exhumed from their graves, were burnt upon the altars at which the priests had ministered before these were destroyed.


1. The beauty of early piety.

2. The excellence of Christian zeal.

3. The difficulty of executing reformations. - W.

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign.
Monday Club Sermons.
I. THE POSSIBILITY OF YOUTHFUL RESPONSIBILITY. Other children besides Josiah have been called to the cares of a kingdom. Manasseh commenced to reign at twelve, Joash was seven, Uzziah sixteen; Henry III and Edward VI of England were both nine; four of the Scottish kings, James II, III, IV, and V, ascended the throne when children. Of the French kings, Louis I. began to reign at sixteen, Louis IX at eleven, Louis XIII at nine, Charles VI at eleven, Charles IX at ten; Louis XIV, inheriting the kingdom at five, assumed full control by his own force of character at thirteen. Charles I of Spain, better known as Charles V of Germany, became king at sixteen; Charles II at fourteen, seizing the kingdom from an ill-governing regency which had existed since his fourth year.

II. EARLY PIETY IS POSSIBLE AND DESIRABLE. When does the period of moral accountability begin? We cannot fix it definitely. But this much is certain: whenever the child can intelligently choose this or that because it is right or wrong, then has moral accountability commenced, and the child can be a Christian.

III. THE INFLUENCE OF GOOD ADVISERS. Josiah was but a boy, and yet around him were spiritual Titans — Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah.


V. THE INFLUENCE OF THE SURROUNDING ATMOSPHERE ON PIETY. We must be watchful against irreligious influences.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

Ancient nations would not receive old men into their armies, as being unfit for service. Let us not wait until we can only offer unto "Him who hath loved us" dry and worthless bones.

(W. M. Taylor, D.D.)

There is at the top of the Queen's staircase in Windsor Castle a statue from the studio of Baron Triqueti, of Edward VI., marking with his sceptre a passage in the Bible, which he holds in his left hand, and upon which he earnestly looks. The passage is this concerning Josiah: "Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David, his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left." The statue was erected by the will of the late Prince Consort, who intended it to convey to his son the Divine principles by which the future governor of England should mould his life and reign on the throne of Great Britain.

(T. Hughes.)

I was admitted into the Church at the early age of eight. I don't remember that I experienced at the time any extraordinary work of God on my soul. I loved Christ, and felt a strong desire to be identified with His people. When I mentioned the fact to some of the deacons some of them looked askance, and expressed grave doubts as to the propriety of allowing one so young to sit at the Lord's table. Among them, however, there were wiser men. Their counsels prevailed, and after some months of probation I was admitted. From that day until now I have never ceased to thank God that I was induced to take the important step at the time I did. Had I not done so I doubt whether I should have been a missionary — if a member of the Christian Church at all.

(Griffith Johns.)

As the sensitive plate in the photographic camera, when the person who sits for a likeness is placed in a powerful light, takes an impression of him in which every line upon the countenance and every furrow upon the brow are exaggerated, so that the artist has to touch the negative in order to do him simple justice, so, when a man sits in the fierce glare of public light, his failings are so prominently recorded, and his defects so clearly brought out, that it is necessary for us in fairness to touch the negative with the pencil of charity, and thus soften down the defects. Remembering this, this description of Josiah fills us with wonder. Consider —


1. His extreme youth.

2. The degeneracy of the times. He ascended the throne in a dark age.

3. He was the son of a bad father.

II. WHAT IS THE EXPLANATION OF HIS PIETY? It may have been largely due to the quiet but all-powerful influence of a good mother. But there are wonders of grace often wrought in the lives of the children of wicked men which you cannot explain.

III. THE MANIFESTATION OF HIS PIETY. He "walked in the ways of David his father." Four hundred years separated Josiah from David. Thank God, there are seasons, even in degenerate times, when the old purity of things is restored, when the grand old faith is received and lived over again, and when the heroism of those who are gone comes back like a new inspiration to young lives. "Ah! he is an old-fashioned young man: he lives behind the age; he ought to have been living in the time of David, for he has quite adopted his ancient ways," exclaimed some young men of the period. All the conceited striplings of the day would join in the chorus, "Poor Josiah, he does not move with the age. He is an eccentric young fellow, very puritanic in his notions, and sings psalms as if he lived in the days of old King David." My young friends, a true man likes to be old-fashioned sometimes. It is noble to move with the age when the age is going forward; but it is grand to remain with the past when the age in which we live retrogrades from ancient purity and ancient faith. When there is no spiritual vigour or moral fibre in our day, it is well to stick to the old days when there were strength and fibre in religion and morals. Do not be afraid of the charge of being old-fashioned. It is cheaply made, and is often meaningless, save as it is the highest possible compliment. Be in the company of the world's best and noblest men: never mind whether they live to-day, or whether they lived eighteen hundred years ago, or even more.

(D. Davies.)

Abdon, Ahikam, Asaiah, Azaliah, Benjamin, David, Hasrah, Hilkiah, Huldah, Israelites, Jahath, Joah, Joahaz, Job, Josiah, Kohath, Kohathites, Levites, Maaseiah, Manasseh, Merari, Meshullam, Micah, Naphtali, Obadiah, Shallum, Shaphan, Simeon, Tikvath, Zechariah
Jerusalem, Second Quarter
Eight, Jerusalem, Josiah, Josi'ah, Reign, Reigned, Reigning, Ruling, Thirty, Thirty-one
1. Josiah's good reign
3. He destroys idolatry
8. He takes order for the repair of the temple
14. Hilkiah, having found a book of the law,
21. Josiah sends to Huldah to enquire of the Lord
23. Huldah prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem, but respite thereof in Josiah's time
29. Josiah, causing it to be read in a solemn assembly, renews the covenant with God

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27

     5366   king

2 Chronicles 34:1-2

     5658   boys
     5746   youth

2 Chronicles 34:1-4

     5211   art

2 Chronicles 34:1-9

     7266   tribes of Israel

2 Chronicles 34:1-13

     7245   Judah, kingdom of

'Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. 2. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. 3. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Josiah and the Newly Found Law
'And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the Lord given by Moses. 15. And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan. 16 And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it. 17. And they have gathered together the money
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The History Books
[Illustration: (drop cap T) Assyrian idol-god] Thus little by little the Book of God grew, and the people He had chosen to be its guardians took their place among the nations. A small place it was from one point of view! A narrow strip of land, but unique in its position as one of the highways of the world, on which a few tribes were banded together. All around great empires watched them with eager eyes; the powerful kings of Assyria, Egypt, and Babylonia, the learned Greeks, and, in later times,
Mildred Duff—The Bible in its Making

Josiah, a Pattern for the Ignorant.
"Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before Me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place."--2 Kings
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

Covenanting Performed in Former Ages with Approbation from Above.
That the Lord gave special token of his approbation of the exercise of Covenanting, it belongs to this place to show. His approval of the duty was seen when he unfolded the promises of the Everlasting Covenant to his people, while they endeavoured to perform it; and his approval thereof is continually seen in his fulfilment to them of these promises. The special manifestations of his regard, made to them while attending to the service before him, belonged to one or other, or both, of those exhibitions
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The comparative indifference with which Chronicles is regarded in modern times by all but professional scholars seems to have been shared by the ancient Jewish church. Though written by the same hand as wrote Ezra-Nehemiah, and forming, together with these books, a continuous history of Judah, it is placed after them in the Hebrew Bible, of which it forms the concluding book; and this no doubt points to the fact that it attained canonical distinction later than they. Nor is this unnatural. The book
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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