A good king was Josiah. He reigned in Jerusalem for 31 years: “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left” (22:2). He repaired the temple, which had fallen into such ruin under Manasseh and Amon. He reestablished the Mosaic legislation. He called on the people to repent, and he humbled himself before the Lord and prayed for forgiveness. He restored the Passover. In fact, “before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses nor did any like him arise after him” (23:25).
That last phrase – “nor did any like him arise after him” – is instructive. The very next king, Jehoahaz, did “what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (23:32). And so did Jehoiakim. And so did Jehoiachin. And so did Zedekiah. And the end came.
The end came. But, after discipline, there was hope. And so, the prophet Isaiah could speak about the end of the captivity: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:1,2). Discipline, then restoration. Our God is patient, and he is gracious.
Come, you disconsolate, where’er you languish;
come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal. -- Thomas Moore (1816)