HE... ENCOURAGED THEM IN THE SERVICE OF THE LORD'S
TEMPLE: "Josiah seems to have been a great encourager, and the encouragement
he gave multiplied itself further through his officials and his kingdom.
"He encouraged the priests in the service of the LORD's
temple. He encouraged the Levites to do their duties and to prepare themselves
to do it. He gave the people sheep and goats for the Passover offering. Spurred
on by his example, his officials contributed voluntarily to the people, priests
and Levites by giving offerings for them all.
"The Levites encouraged the priests by preparing for the
Passover for them, while the priests were still working. They also prepared for
the singers and the gatekeepers who were still doing their jobs.
"Let us be encouraged by this story to show some encouragement
ourselves. Let us especially encourage those who are working hard in the service
of the LORD, whether it be by words of encouragement, instructions, giving
gifts, setting examples or serving each other. All of these are ways different
people find it easiest and most effective to encourage each other. So encourage
someone you know this week and spur them on to love and good deeds"
In this great generosity of the king, there is a picture of
the generosity of God -- who is His grace provided for our salvation without
restraint. What a superabundance of grace there is for us if we choose to accept
Josiah was the most righteous and useful man of his age; yet
he died at the age of thirty-nine, when -- had he remained alive -- he could
have done so much good. This sort of thing can seem like such a mystery; yet it
teaches us: (a) that the God of heaven is no respecter of persons; (b) that
death is remorseless and irresistible; (c) that there is nothing and no one on
this fleeting earth on which we should set our hearts, or put our trust; and (d)
that there must be a resurrection and life eternal for God's faithful servants,
for "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
And it teaches us one more thing besides: "The righteous
perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no
one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil" (Isa
57:1). Great evil and judgment was soon to fall upon the nation of Judah, but
God's faithful servant Josiah was to be taken away before the worst of it
arrived. And so we learn, that death -- far from a punishment -- can in fact be
a real blessing; and that we should trust in God alone and recognize that, in
all things, He knows what is best, and He does what is best for us.
THE LAMENTS: Or "the lamentations" (AV). Not the same
as the Book of Lamentations -- which was written AFTER the fall of Jerusalem.
This lament here is included among a group of dirges, which are generally
shorter (ie, 2Sa 1:17-27; Eze 28:12-19; etc), and not of book length.