After only two years on the throne of Judah, Amon the father of Josiah died. He had been an evil-living young man, and, sad to say, he did not die from natural causes, but was murdered by his servants. It is said of him "He did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father: and Amon sacrificed unto all the graven images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them. And he humbled not himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but this same Amon trespassed more and more. And his servants conspired against him, and put him to death in his own house" (2 Chronicles 33.22-24).
Amon was but twenty-four years of age when he died, and his young son Josiah, only eight years of age, began to reign. Josiah came to the throne in a dark and cloudy day, when but a lad of tender years. At sixteen there was an evident movement of the Spirit of God within him, for "he began to seek after the God of David his father" (2 Chronicles 34.3). Such great kings of Judah as Asa, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah are passed over, and the God Josiah sought after was the God of David. David was his pattern, and what he had heard and read of his great ancestor no doubt filled him with a longing to be a second David. David was his father. Josiah found no example to copy in his father Amon or his grandfather Manasseh; nor even Jehoshaphat who walked in the first ways of his father David (2 Chronicles 17.3) was a good enough pattern for Josiah upon which to model his life. Josiah would follow the original pattern, David, not the copy in Jehoshaphat.
"Who is David?" asked Nabal the Carmelite (1 Samuel 25.10). David was that boy who while tending his father's sheep slew a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17.84), and later on slew the giant Goliath and saved Israel from the Philistines. Josiah never slew lions or bears or giants, but there were other and greater perils in his time, dangers which went beyond the physical peril of lions and giants, even idolatry, which strangled the spiritual life of God's people. These idols he would smite and destroy as David had smitten Goliath. So when he was twenty he began his work of cleansing Judah and Jerusalem. Down came the Asherim, the altars of the Baalim, the graven images and the molten images; he made dust of them and strewed it upon the graves of those that sacrificed to them. He not only heaped scorn upon the living that committed idolatry, but did so even on dead idolaters, amongst whom were his own father and grandfather. He could have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. What he did in Judah he did in Israel, and of his magnificent work we read in the early verses of 2 Chronicles 34.
Following this he repaired the house of God and recommenced the service there6f. He knew well that men cannot live in a vacuum, with idolatry destroyed and yet no service for God. Mere negation satisfies no one. If men serve God fully they will have no time for idols. Ceasing to do good, we learn to do evil. An empty heart has been described as the devil's workshop. Soon he will have it stocked with his machine tools and humming with activity, producing his evil goods. "Cease to do evil", is coupled with "learn to do well" (Isaiah 1.16, 17). Cast out the evil, crush it to dust, and then begin building for God. We must have an objective life if we would have a happy life. Keep slinging stones, as David undoubtedly did for a long time. You will hit a giant some day. It may even be "Giant Despair".
The God of David and Josiah is the God of boys. Where are the Davids and the Josiahs, the boys who are beginning to seek after God and then to work for Him?
"Be not wise in thine own eyes;
Fear the LORD, and depart from evil" (Proverbs 3.7).