Daily Bible Reading Reflections

The Great Potential of a Tender Heart

He lived during a dark time in Judah’s history. His father, King Amon, “did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” and “did not humble himself before the LORD,” but “incurred guilt more and more” (2 Chron 33:22-23). Amon was eventually assassinated by his own servants and Josiah–the royal heir–was crowned at the age of eight. It’s not hard to imagine how things could have spiraled further out of control, and fast.

But at the age of sixteen, Josiah “began to seek the God of David his father” (34:3). At twenty, “he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images.”

When Josiah was twenty-six, his secretary told him, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” The Book of the Law of the LORD given through Moses had been found in Jerusalem’s dilapidated temple. And Shaphan the secretary read from it before the king.

And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, “Go, inquire of the LORD for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book.” (34:19-21)

Josiah had already shown himself to be a better man than his father and so many of the former kings in his family tree. Now, he was experiencing firsthand the living and active word of God, “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). The word was being read to Josiah and Josiah was being read by the word. And what was revealed? Not pride. No excuses. Not defensiveness. No blame-shifting. Josiah was revealed to have a tender heart. Just listen to the words a prophetess was instructed to say “to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD”:

“Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD.” (34:26-27)

When Josiah heard God’s words, his toes were stepped on and he ran as fast as he could towards God with a tender heart. No pride. No excuses. No blame-shifting, just an eager, receptive, tender heart. He humbled himself before his Creator. He was ready, willing, and determined to make any change necessary, whatever the cost. And the LORD’s response? “Because you heard me, I also have heard you.”

Centuries later, things really aren’t all that much more complicated, are they? We heard God’s words yesterday. Are our hearts tender and humble today? Eager to follow? Ready to apply? Prepared to shine? Looking to make a difference for the good of others and the glory of our King?

And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. (34:31)

He heard. He wept. He humbled himself. He learned. He applied. He took a stand. He made a covenant to walk and to keep with all his heart and all his soul. Despite the bad examples before him, this young king led in a different direction and his people followed into a season of great revival. “All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers” (34:33).

I’m not a king and you don’t live in ancient Judah, but centuries later, things really aren’t all that much more complicated. We heard God’s words yesterday. The word was read to us and we continue to be read by the word. What is being revealed? Are we humble? Are we learning? Will we keep listening with receptive hearts today and tomorrow? Are we applying? Will we take a stand? Have we made a covenant with the King? Are we walking with him, keeping his commandments with all of our hearts and all of our souls? What impact will we have on the people around us this week? Will our examples be living signs that point to the King or detours in service of the devil?

“Because you heard me, I also have heard you.” If we’ll show ourselves humble and bold enough to follow in the footsteps of young Josiah, the God of Josiah has promised to hear and lead us as well.