King Josiah

Scripture Reference: 2 Kings 22-23:30; 2 Chronicles 34-36

Story Overview: Unlike his evil grandfather and father, King Josiah tried to lead the people of Judah back to God. When he ordered the temple of the Lord cleaned and repaired, the high priest found the Book of the Law that had been lost and forgotten. Convicted by the words in the book, Josiah led the people in wiping out all forms of idol worship in the kingdom. He gathered all of the people together and read the Book of the Law to them. For the first time in hundreds of years, God’s people celebrated the Passover according to His laws. Although the Word of God had been in the temple all along, it had not been read.

Suggested Emphasis: Read the bible regularly.

Memory Work: Learn the names of the Books of the Old Testament.

Background Study
Way to Introduce the Story
The Story
Review Questions
Craft and Activity Ideas
Other Online Resources

Background Study:
After the death of Solomon, the people of God had divided into two kingdoms – Israel and Judah. During the reign of Hezekiah, Israel had been captured by the Assyrians. Although Judah had had some good kings, it was often corrupt and was beginning to follow more and more in the footsteps of the rebellious Israel.  Background Information on the Divided Kingdom.

At the age of eight Josiah inherited a corrupt kingdom that had turned away from the Lord. His father, Amon, had been the king of Israel only two years before his servants assassinated him.

Both Amon and his father, Manasseh, had done “evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 21:20). Manasseh reigned fifty-five years, longer than any other king of Judah, and he was considered the wickedest king. It was Manasseh who introduced many forms of idolatry to Israel and broke Israel’s covenant with the Lord. Eventually, it was Manasseh’s sins that destroyed the nation and led it into captivity.

Taking over such a kingdom would have been bewildering to anyone, but Josiah showed great wisdom, for he “began to seek the God of his father David” in the eighth year of his reign (2 Chronicles. 34:3). By his “twelfth year” Josiah had instructed that idols were to be destroyed in Judah, Jerusalem, and throughout the land. In the eighteenth year of his reign he raised money to repair the temple.

It was during the work on the temple that a discovery was made – the Book of the Law was found. Scholars disagree whether this book included the entire Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) or only the Book of Deuteronomy. It may be that only Deuteronomy was found, since the reforms after this event are closely related to this book.

When Josiah read the Book of the Law, he was distressed and tore his clothes because of what it said. God’s Word told of the destruction that was to come to the nation because of the evil idolatry that had occurred under Manasseh and Amon.

The King sent Hilkiah, the priest, and four other officials to “inquire of the Lord”.  This was done by going to speak to the prophetess, Huldah.  Her message from God was that God’s judgement would fall on the people and their home.  Because of his genuine response to God King Josiah would not have to see this take place (2 Kings 22:13-20).  Later on we will find that this was a message with both “good new” and “bad news”.  The good news was that Josiah would not have to see the full measure of God’s wrath on the people.  The bad news was that he did not see it because he was killed in battle (2 Kings 23:29-30).

After Huldah’s prophesy, Josiah called all the people together to read God’s Word to them. Then he renewed the covenant to keep God’s commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and soul.  The people pleadged themselves to the same covenant (2 Kings 22:1-3).

Following that there was a major cleansing of the idolatrous altars and shrines of the high places.  The observance of the Passover was restored.

Josiah reigned from 640 to 609 B.C. During his reign Judah returned to reading God’s Word and experienced spiritual renewal. For his work Josiah is remembered as one of the greatest kings of Judah. “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” (2 Kings 23:25).
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Way to Introduce the Story:
Before class hide a scroll (rolled up paper) in the room. You can write something like “read God’s Word” on the scroll. Bring cleaning supplies to class and let the children help clean the classroom. Tell them that there is something important in the room that they might find when they are cleaning. “In today’s lesson we are going to learn about a time when someone was cleaning and found a very important scroll.”
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The Story:
A boy named Josiah was eight years old when he became king of Judah. His father had been a bad king but Josiah wanted to be good. He obeyed God and tried to teach the people to obey God too. He was king for 31 years.

One of the things that King Josiah wanted to do was to clean up and repair the temple of the Lord. The people had ignored the temple and it looked worn out and dirty.

King Josiah sent his royal assistant, Shaphan, to the temple of the Lord to tell the priests to clean up the temple. Shaphan told the High Priest, Hilkiah to gather the temple money that the people had given. The money was to be given to those who would do all of the repair work. People who are working to repair the temple need the money.”

Hilkiah did as Shaphan asked. The money was given to the supervisors of the work on the temple. There were carpenters, builders and stoneworkers. The money was also used to buy timber and cut stone to repair the temple.

Everyone worked very hard to repair and clean the temple. Hilkiah found something in the temple and brought it to Shaphan. It was a scroll. This scroll was very special. It told all about the Law of God. Some of the laws in the scroll were laws that the people had forgotten about. Hilkiah told Shaphan to read it because it was God’s word.

When Shaphan read the scroll he knew it was very important. He took it to King Josiah and reported, “The money has been given to the workers and supervisors at the temple. And Hilkiah the priest gave me this scroll.” Shaphan read the scroll to King Josiah.

Josiah was very upset when he heard the words of the scroll. He knew that the people had not been obeying the Lord. He sent word to Hilkiah the priest that he wanted everyone to obey God’s word. King Josiah told Hilkiah and four of his most important helpers to go and ask advice from the Prophetess, Huldah.  As a prophetess, Huldah gave people special messages from God.  Huldah’s message was that the people had disobeyed God for a very long time and they would have to be punished.  The Lord knew that the King loved his people so the message from the prophetess was that King Josiah would not live to see his people suffer.

Once King Josiah heard God’s message he asked the elders of the people to gather all of the people.  The King went to the temple and spoke in front of all the people. He made a promise to God. He promised to follow God and obey His commands, rules and laws. He promised to do what was written in God’s Word. Then all the people made the same promise.

One of the things written in the scroll was about the Passover. The Law of God said that the Jews should celebrate the Passover every year. The people had not celebrated the Passover for many years. They had not obeyed God because they had not read his word. It is easy to disobey the Lord if we do not read his words.

When the people heard what God wanted, they celebrated the Passover. They learned God’s Word and obeyed Him. The people were happy that they could read God’s Word. Have you read God’s word – the bible – today?
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Review Questions:

  1. How old was Josiah when he became king? Eight years old
  2. What did the High Priest find when he was cleaning and repairing the temple? A scroll of God’s word
  3. When King Josiah heard the words in the scroll what did he do with the scroll? He read it to the people
  4. Why had the people not been celebrating the Passover every year? Because God’s Law had been lost and they had not read about it
  5. How will we know how to obey God? Read His word – the bible.
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Craft and Activity ideas for the class (choose age appropriate ones):

  • Sing: Books of the Old Testament or B-I-B-L-E
  • Review how to look up a scripture (testament, book, chapter, verse)
  • Older children can learn how to use a concordance
  • Choose a passage of scripture (Psalm 119:9-11, Romans 10:17, Matthew 7:24 or 2 Timothy 3:16-17, for instance) and let children take turns reading it aloud to the class
  • Have bible drills where you call out a scripture reference (book, chapter, verse) and the children race to find it and read it aloud.
  • Arrange to meet after church and clean and straighten the auditorium (be sure to hide a scroll for the children to find while they are cleaning)
  • Make a bible times scroll
  • Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.

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Other Online Resources:

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11 Responses to King Josiah

  1. sandra says:

    Thank you so much for these resources. I can’t believe that some people would be critical of what you include and don’t include, but you are very gracious in your answers.

  2. Maria says:

    thank you for this site…i am a pre-school teacher and through this helps me a lot to teacher little kids about obedience to God first. God bless you more!

  3. christopher says:

    The reason Josiah tore his clothes and totally freaked out is because the scroll contained a 300 year old prophecy from 1Kings 13:2 where Josiah’s name was mentioned-” A KIng named Josiah will arise in Judah…”. The fact that God mentioned Josiah 300 years before Josiah was born is THE, if not one of the most important aspects of this story. It amazes me that you could comment on Josiah above and leave this fact out.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Christopher

      Thanks for your comment. This led me to re-read the 2 parallel passages (2 Kings 22:8-13 and 2 Chronicles 34:14-21). From what I read (especially 2 Chronicles 34:14) I can see that the “Book of the Law” that was found was given by Moses. For this reason I would assume that this was probably the Torah or Pentateuch (first 5 books of our bibles). This would have been long before the 1 Kings 13:2 passage that you mentioned.

      The prophecies are, indeed, amazing but I don’t think that is what Josiah was reacting to in this case.

      Since my website is a tool to help teachers share God’s Word with children I try to point out themes that children can relate to. One thing I know we would both agree on is that Josiah and the others were confronted by the truth of God’s Word and it demanded action!

      Thanks again for your comment. Helping each other along in the journey is what it is all about.

      • christopher says:

        You have correctly stated that I do agree that they were confronted by the truth of God’s word and it demanded action. I also agree that helping each other is what its all about, so I ask that sometime today you agree with me in a 2 Chronicles 7:14 prayer that God would send us some Josiah’s, because America desperately needs some “Josiah like” leaders. Thanx! and I pray that God will richly BLESS YOU!

  4. GOOD .. thanks :)

    Im a Sunday school teacher too.

    To God be the GLORY :)

  5. Emily Toews says:

    You forgot Huldah the prophetess. She plays a vital role in this story. Shame.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Emily

      Thanks for your comment. I went back and read in 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34 again to learn a little more about the woman you mentioned. She did indeed play an important prophesy involving the King. I updated the background information to include more about her.

      Since you mentioned Huldah I also noticed other characters I had skimmed over. Isn’t it interesting how many people the King sent to inquire of the Lord? He sent Hilkiah, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah to Huldah (2 Kings 22:11-12). The King’s amazing response to God grabs our attention so much that it is easy to pass over others. “All the people” followed Josiah in renewing the covenant with God.

      I don’t know about you but I learn something new every time I read God’s word.

  6. Pingback: Bible Crafts for Kids: King Josiah repairs the temple | 2 Kings 22 | Growing Kids Ministry

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