A Boy King
Josiah was only eight years old when he was made king.
What do you think of a little boy ruling all the people of a great country, telling them just what it was right for them to do and punishing them when they did wrong?
It was very hard for a child; but he loved his country and wanted to teach his people the right way to live. So he was willing to listen to the advice of the wise men who were with him in the court.
These men had lived longer than he, and although they were not kings, they knew a great deal more than he knew about ruling a nation. Josiah was glad to do as they told him.
Now the Jews had been doing very wicked things since the days of King David and had forgotten that God was their helper. They had forgotten, too, that every good thing that had ever come to them had come from God.
They used to pray to all sorts of odd images, which they called idols, giving thanks to these stone figures for their blessings, instead of praising God for his goodness.
Josiah knew this was not right. When he grew to be a big boy, about twelve years old, he journeyed through the country and made his servants break down these images wherever they found them. He commanded his people to come to the temple to worship God.
The king who had ruled before Josiah had not used the temple for worship and had not taken good care of it. It was broken down in many places and needed to be repaired. So Josiah sent word to all the people, asking them to bring all the gold and silver they could afford.
This money was given to the carpenters and builders, who brought wood and stone and went to work at once mending the broken places.
One day while they were working, one of the men found a strange looking roll of paper which was covered with writing. He carried it to the King, who called his servant to read it to him.
Now long, long ago people did not know how to print books as we do. When they wished to write, they used a sharp-pointed stick for a pen and wrote on along piece of oily material, called parchment. This material was rolled around a stick and unrolled like a map as it was read.
It was a roll like this which the workman had found, and it proved to be one of the books of the Bible which has been lost for years,—a book written many hundred years ago, telling the Israelites just what the writer thought God wished His people to do.
One of the wicked kings did not like to follow the law of God, and thought if he should hide this book there would be no law, and he could do just as he pleased; so it had been put out of sight and in time was forgotten.
Josiah had never heard of it and did not know what it asked of the people. He listened to every word as his servant read. It made him very sad when he thought how many times he and his people had disobeyed the law. He had tried very hard to help them to do right; but there were many things in this book of the Bible that he had not known about.
Now that he knew the laws, his people must know them too. So he commanded them all, young and old, to come from all the country around to the temple.
When they had all come, he read them the law of God as it had been written so long ago.
Then King Josiah stood by the great pillar in the temple, where the people could all see him, and promised to obey this law forever. And all the people promised that they, too, would obey the law as commanded in the book.
Josiah was a good king, and as long as he lived the country was peaceful and the people were happy.