WORD STUDY – A SUBMISSIVE HEART
“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 scribes were the only ones 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 submission. Josiah had a heart that was sbmissive 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’ is in an imperfect form. What God is saying is that Josiah had a heart that was submissive 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 and submissive 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 and submissive 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.
I remember hearing the story of Ray Bradbury, the science fiction writer. When he first met the woman he would marry, he gave her one of his books. She put it in a book case and forgot about it because she hated science fiction. But one day she fell in love with Ray Bradbury and the day they got engaged she took the book off the shelf and began to read it, every word, and she read through the book three times, staying up all night to do it. Isn’t it odd that someone who hated science fiction would savor every word in a science fiction novel? But you see the difference is that she fell in love with it’s author,
For many years I struggled with evangelism. I always had this problem of trying to convert people. I felt like I was not really trying to convert them to God so much as to convert them to my way of thinking and my interpretation of Scripture. Then one day I discovered that the Aramaic word for convert in the book of Acts is shalem which comes from the same root as shalom. Shalem carries the idea of submission more than conversion. We are really not called to convert people as that implies causing to people to turn to our way of thinking and our theology. We are simply called to encourage people to submit to God. We just need to trust God to do whatever is necessary to convert the thinking of people.
I struggled with evangelism because I always had in the back of my mind: “What makes me think that my theology and doctrine is really the correct doctrine, why should I try to convince someone to believe what I believe when they might have the right doctrine or theology. So evangelism became a chore, something I had to do if I were to advance in the church and among my peers. But if I am just trying to get people to submit to God, I have no problem with that. I am not asking anyone to change their doctrine or theology. Heck even a Muslim understands that he must submit to God. If I can get someone to get on their knees with me and pray a prayer of submission to God like Josiah I don’t care what his doctrine or theology is, I don’t care if he is Jewish or Muslim, I will let God handle those particulars, my job is just to get the person to surrender and submit their lives to God. When they do that I think I can trust God to do the rest.
Josiah’s doctrine and theology was all messed up until they found the Torah. But before they did Josiah had a heart that was tender, submissive rakak to God. As a result he walk with God and learned to love God even before his messed up theology and doctrine got cleared up. That is our first step to finding God as Josiah learned.