If I were to ask you who the greatest king of in the Old Testament was, who’s name would you say? Nine times out of ten, you would probably say king David. After all, he was a man after God’s own heart. But according to 2 Kings 23, there was one king who was greater. His name was Josiah, and 2 Kings 23:25 says this of him:
Before him there was no king like him, who 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, nor did any like him arise after him.
That is a mighty statement about this man isn’t it? There was no king who followed the Lord more faithfully than Josiah. No king walked more closely in His ways, and no king served the Lord with more devotion. Most of Israel’s kings couldn’t hold a candle to Josiah, so comparing them to him would be a waste of time. But to say that Josiah was a more faithful king than Hezekiah and David is something on which we should meditate.
What made Josiah such a great king? He understood the Law of Moses. Notice that verse 25 does not say that he was the greatest king because of all his perfectly performed sacrifices, faithfully observed sabbaths, and diligent commandment keeping. No, we’re told that Josiah’s greatness came from his continual turning toward the Lord with everything in him, heart, soul, and might. This continual turning drove his life, which was filled with the types of things that I just mentioned. He tore down the idols, killed the false priests and prophets, read the Law faithfully, rebuilt the temple, and held the greatest Passover feast since the days of Samuel. But those things were a result of his constant turning toward the Lord.
All other commandments, moral behaviors, religious rituals, and the like are all summed up in loving God. Josiah understood this and was deemed faithful because of His constant turning to the Lord. But, Josiah was not the greatest king of all. Like everything else in the Old Testament, he was simply a pointer. He was part of a larger story. If he was truly the greatest, there would have been no need for another King, but even Josiah, in all his faithfulness, could not remain king forever.
The true King, the greater King, was the only one who could perfectly keep God’s commandments. He is the one who became King through His death. His love of God, His faithfulness to the glory of God was such that didn’t just destroy idols, rebuild the temple, and celebrate a grand Passover, He destroyed death itself by dying for all of God’s people, including Josiah, who could not live up to God’s holiness. And He built a new temple, one made up of all the redeemed people of God. And the Passover that He will perform is an everlasting feast for all those who call Him their King.
We should aspire to be like Josiah, but our only hope is to pledge our allegiance to the greater King, the only one who can save. Jesus Christ, the Lord of all.