WORD STUDY – HUMBLE YOURSELF –תכנע
“II Kings 22:19: “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place.”
Josiah was a king who not only sought to serve God, he loved God. He became King of Judah at the age of 8 years. Ten years into his reign he had the scribes begin some house cleaning and repairs to the temple of God. In the process of this house cleaning Hilkiah, the high priest, happened upon the book of the Law, the Torah. He gave it Shaphan a scribe, probably because the scribe was the only one who could read. He took it with him and included this discovery in his report to the king. It seemed to be almost an after thought: “Oh, by the way the boys at the temple ran across this book, looks like a good read.” But when he read it before Josiah, Josiah immediately knew what it was and what it meant and fell before God in repentance knowing the kingdom would come under the judgment of God for breaking the laws of God.
King Josiah ordered the High Priest, the scribe and a couple servants to go and seek a word from the Lord. They went to Huldah, a prophetess who gave them a Word from God. That was recorded in II Kings 22:19. King Josiah was assured that he would not live to see this judgment fall because his heart was tender before the Lord and because he humbled himself before the face or presence of the Lord. This sounds almost the same formula as II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people will humble themselves, seek my face and pray and turn from their wicked way…I will heal their land.” Only it did not say anything about repentance.
I hate formulas, God is not a chemistry experiment or a computer that needs the right program. Josiah did not advert the judgment of God because he followed a formula, but because he did something else. His heart was “tender” before God. The word tender is rakak which means to be delicate, dainty, gentle, and feminine. Rakak carries the idea of nurturing. Josiah had a heart that was nurturing toward God. He was also humble before God. The word humble here is cana’ which has the idea of bundling or packaging. He put all the aspects of his heart into a package and presented it to God. But soft, the word cana’ has a Taw in front of it putting it in an imperfect form. What God is saying is that Josiah had a heart that was tender before God and as a result he would humble or package his heart and present it to God. This is not a case of Josiah suddenly discovering that judgment was coming and so he quickly starts to repent. His whole life showed a heart tender before God ready to package it up and give it to God at any time God wanted it.
This passage does not say that because Josiah repented he would not suffer the judgment of God; it is saying that because he always had a heart tender before God, a heart that was nurturing God; he would escape God’s judgment. His deliverance from God started long before the discovery of the law. From an early age he sought to understand the heart of God. I have often heard people say, “Well, I don’t agree with them, but their heart is in the right place.” This was Josiah, he had not been doing things according to the law, but his heart was in the right place and once he knew the law, he was ready to humble himself, or cana’ to the law.
The High Priest and scribe did not realize the significance of the book they found. Josiah immediately knew the significance. The reason he could discern the importance of the book over the High Priest and the scribe was because he was seeking to know the heart of God and the book of the law was the book for which he had been searching, a book which would tell him God’s heart, the God that he loved.
Josiah embraced the Torah, the law of God and as a result the nation of Judah experienced a great revival. This child king, who became king at the age of 8 who had a Godly mother that instilled the love of God in him purged the nation of idolatry and led the nation back to God.
You would think he would have had a long and fruitful life. He did not. He died at the age of 47 after ruling only 39 years. Other kings, ungodly kings of Judah reigned longer and lived a longer life. Why did such a man of God, a righteous man who led his nation to one of the greatest revivals in its history, why did God take him as such an early age?
Here is the rest of the story. The Assyrian Empire which was the most powerful nation in the world was growing weaker through internal strife and rebellion. Egypt, who was ruled by the Assyrians formed an alliance with the growing powerful nation of Babylon and to move against the Assyrians. The battle was to take place at Megiddo, territory controlled by Judah. This was not Judah’s fight, however, Josiah feared the rising power of Babylon and with an alliance with Egypt he envisioned a threat much greater than the Assyrian Empire. Sort of like Russia forming an alliance with Pakistan and then facing China down in the Alaskan territory. What would the U.S. do? Would we let them fight it out in our own territory. God told Josiah, “It’s cool, just sit back, I am in control, this is not your fight.” But Josiah feared an Assyrian and Egyptian victory and he had already made some friendly overtures to Babylon. So he got the powerful Judean army together and march down to Megiddo. Note what it says in II Chronicles 35:21-22: “ But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? [I come] not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from [meddling with] God, who [is] with me, that he destroy thee not. (22) Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.”
Can you did it, even the King Necho of Egypt reminded Josiah that God forbid him to go to battle also explaining that this war was not his fight. Here we have a man of God, a Godly king from the age of eight years, who destroyed the idols of his nation, brought back the Law of God, led the nation into one of its most peaceful and prosperous eras and he refused to listen to God. God even used the mouth of a pagan king to remind him not to go to war. Yet, he did and by some fluke, someone just shooting an arrow Josiah was wounded and died.
Josiah let fear blind him to the Word of God. He leaned to his own understandings rather than trusted in God with all his heart. He failed to acknowledge God in all his ways. I find this story very chilling. For almost 45 years I have studied the Word of God continually a minimum of 3-4 hours a day in the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. I pastor a church when a revival broke out. I have been on a ten year journey to discover the heart of God. Yet, that is no guarantee that one day I, like Josiah and maybe you, may just forget to cana’ humble myself before God. None of us are immune to that.