Aug. 13. Josiah Turns Judah back to God; Psalms of Joy, Praise and Thanksgiving

II Kin. 23:1-25; II Chron. 34:29-35:19; Ps. 33:1-22; 66:1-67:7; 100:1-5

Upon hearing the words of the Book of the Law or Covenant, Josiah called for a general assembly of all of the people of Jerusalem, “both small and great.” He proceeded to read the complete book in their hearing and made a covenant with the Lord, “to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies…that were written in this book.” All of the people took their stand with him. (It would be great if our nation and all of the world’s nations had leaders who followed the word of God as their guide.)

At the king’s command to Hilkiah the high priest the work of clearing out and destroying everything that pertained to the worship of idols in the land was begun and accomplished. Assyria’s power had weakened in what had been the Northern Kingdom of Israel. That enabled Josiah to even destroy places of worship in that area. Some of those places of worship had been in existence since the days of Solomon and Jeroboam hundreds of years earlier.

With the purging of idol worship and the people’s desire to also please God, Josiah ordered the resumption of observing the Passover. That feast had been absent since the days of Hezekiah when he had restored its celebration after being long neglected. The Ark of the Covenant had been placed in its rightful position in the Most Holy Place. With all things in order, the Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of the first month. “Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah.” There was great joy, happiness and singing during the Passover celebration.

“Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.”

There was great rejoicing, praise and thanksgiving as Josiah led his people back to the proper worship of God. We view the following psalms in that setting as they were possibly sung in worship at that time.

The psalmist rejoiced at the great power of God. It was through His breath that He spoke everything into existence. There are some who refer to the existence of God as a “fairy tale” or figment of one’s imagination. It is more reasonable to attribute the creation of the universe and its inhabitants to the work of a divine Being, than to rely upon the thought of a random explosion that resulted in order out of nothing. God’s presence is universal. He sees all things—both good and evil. Man was not placed upon the earth to flounder on his own, but God is there as our help and shield for our survival. Nations have fallen because of a lack of trust in Him. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

Man was instructed to make a joyful shout to God by singing praise and honor in thanksgiving to His name. The psalmist presented a lengthy list of the things that God had done for His creation including the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Some were not pleasant. However, as it takes fire to refine precious metals, hard times refine His people. A resolve to worship Him followed the listing of God’s blessings. If we will fear Him, He will hear us.

The people were urged to praise God for His righteous judgment of all nations. That eventually would include the Gentiles after the establishment of His church. Many times, judges either through mental errors or from corruption make decisions that do not properly reflect the testimonies presented before them. God is a merciful Judge who does not take bribes nor make mistakes. We must serve Him faithfully in order to receive the reward of a favorable judgment at the end.

Songs of thanksgiving were repeatedly sung by the children of Israel when they were faithfully following God. There were many times when they would backslide and worship idols instead of the living God. Those periods were followed by a return to Him with praise and thanksgiving for His mercy and compassion. Thanksgiving should be a constant attitude among God’s people and not just at a designated time of the year.