The Following thought for the day was written by Brother Richard Morgan and provides insight and encouragement for those seeking to serve the God of Israel.

If you look through today’s reading from 2 Kings 22-23, you’ll find a simple term keeps cropping up – “words.” For instance, in verse 11 of chapter 22, we learn of Josiah, “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.” That was Josiah’s reaction after the Book of the Law was found in the temple, specifically a scroll of the book of Deuteronomy.

Why did Josiah tear his clothes when he read the book? The next two occurrences of “words” explain. Josiah said, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (v13). Deuteronomy is about the importance of listening and obeying the word of God, and Judah had failed to do it. Then, at the end of Deuteronomy, in chapter 28, the curses are outlined.

Verses 16 and 18 also reference “the words” of the book, and then again in chapter 23 verses 2, 3 and 24. The significance of the term comes from the name of the book of Deuteronomy in the Hebrew Bible – Devarim. That is the Hebrew for “words” and forms the first word of the book – “These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness.” (Deut. 1:1).

Josiah let the book of Deuteronomy and its words motivate him throughout his life. The two divine summaries of his life both come from there. In 2 Kings 22:2, we’re told, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” Those words come straight out of Deuteronomy 17 in the passage about the kings of Israel of whom the chapter says, “he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law” (v18). That was so “he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left” (v20).

Then, in 2 Kings 23:25, we read of Josiah, “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.” Those words come from the most important verse in the book of Deuteronomy – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:5).

Josiah becomes, for us, a very simple yet profound example of somebody who listened to the words of God, let them sink in, and motivate him into action. In the first chapter of Deuteronomy, we learn that the generation who came out of Egypt didn’t listen to the words of God. The end of the chapter says, “And you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord did not listen to your voice or give ear to you.” (v45). Contrast that with Josiah – “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard” (2 Kings 22:18). He didn’t just hear the words; he did something about it. So the passage continues, “you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.” (v19).

Richard Morgan,
Simi Hills, CA

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* Click verse text to see cross references.
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