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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

2 Chronicles 34

Verse 27

DISCOURSE: 431
JOSIAH’S PENITENCE

2 Chronicles 34:27. Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord.

IT is scarcely to be conceived how great a benefit has arisen to the Christian cause from the invention of printing. The word of God is that whereby the work of salvation is principally carried on in the souls of men: and the multiplying of copies of the Holy Scriptures, in such a form as to be conveniently portable, and at such a price as to be within the reach of the poor, has tended more than any other thing to keep alive the interests of religion, both in the hearts of individuals, and in the community at large. If we look back to the condition of the Jews in the time of King Josiah, we shall find it truly deplorable. Through the influence of the two preceding kings, the very remembrance of God’s law was almost obliterated from the minds of men. Every king was, by God’s appointment, to copy it for himself [Note: Deuteronomy 17:18.]: yet not a copy of it was to be seen in the land: so that if God himself had not interposed in his providence to raise up to the Jews a pious king, and by him to bring back the people to some sense of their duty, it is probable that the whole nation would ere long have been immersed in heathen darkness. From the traces of divine knowledge which yet remained by means of the temple and its furniture, and through the operation of God’s Spirit on his soul, Josiah was induced to repair the temple, in order to the restoring of God’s worship there: and Hilkiah the priest, while executing his orders, found a copy (perhaps the original copy) of the Law, which had been lost amidst the rubbish and ruins of the place. On hearing its contents, Josiah was filled with great anguish, and sent to Huldah the prophetess to know whether the judgments which God had denounced against that apostate nation might by any means be averted: in reply to which he was informed, that the calamities would surely come upon them; but that, in consideration of his penitence, the awful period should not arrive till he himself should be removed to a better world.

From the words before us we shall take occasion to shew,

I.

What state of mind the threatenings of God should produce in us—

The conduct of Josiah on this occasion will serve to guide our thoughts.
The threatenings of God should produce in us,

1.

A fear of his judgments—

[If men can puff “at God’s judgments [Note: Psalms 10:5.],” it is because they have never considered how tremendous they are. Let any man once think seriously of “dwelling with everlasting burnings [Note: Isaiah 33:14. See also Mar 9:43-48 and Revelation 14:10-11.],” and we will defy him not to tremble, like Felix [Note: Acts 24:25.] and Belshazzar [Note: Daniel 5:5-6.]. Josiah “rent his clothes” with horror, when he heard only of temporal calamities: how much more therefore ought we to fear, when we hear of the miseries that will be endured in “the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone!”]

2.

A sorrow of heart for those sins against which his judgments are denounced—

[We are ready to acknowledge, that they who have committed gross sins should mourn for their iniquities. But we should remember that the judgments of God are denounced also against pride, unbelief, impenitence, worldly-mindedness, and numberless other secret sins, which are overlooked, or even commended, by the world. For these therefore must we “weep, and humble ourselves before God,” yea, and lothe ourselves for them in dust and ashes.]

3.

A turning unto God in holy and unreserved obedience—

[This is the true test of sincerity: fears and sorrows are of little avail, if they produce not a thorough change of heart and life. Josiah, from the first moment that he heard the threatenings of God, set himself to accomplish a national reformation, and prosecuted it with zeal to his dying-hour. Thus must we be zealous for our God. We must not pretend to be sorry for our sins, and still continue to live in them; but we must put away the accursed thing, whatever it be, and devote ourselves to God without reserve. It is he only who “confesseth and forsaketh his sins, that shall find mercy [Note: Proverbs 28:13.].”]

To promote such a state of mind amongst, you, we proceed to shew,

II.

Its acceptableness to God—

The message sent to Josiah sufficiently marks this. God assured him that his prayer was heard in consideration of his penitence. But that such a state of mind is at all times acceptable to God, will more clearly appear, if we consider that,

1.

By it all the perfections of God are glorified—

[Repentance is often called “a giving glory to God [Note: Joshua 7:19. Jeremiah 13:16.];” and the propriety of this expression is evident: for, exactly as the impenitent man pours contempt on all the divine perfections, setting at nought the power and majesty, the justice and holiness, the love and mercy, the truth and faithfulness or God; so, on the contrary, the penitent brings glory to them all, inasmuch as he acknowledges his obnoxiousness to the divine displeasure, and his ardent desire to obtain an interest in the promises of the Gospel. If then God be concerned for his own glory, he cannot but be pleased with those who, in his appointed way, are labouring to advance it.]

2.

To it all the promises of God are made—

[Many are the judgments denounced against the stout-hearted: but in all the inspired volume there is not one word to “break a bruised reed.” On the contrary, the weary and heavy-laden are invited to come to Christ without any distinction on account of the particular sins with which they are burthened. God assures the contrite soul, while it is yet trembling at his word, that he will look upon it with peculiar pleasure and complacency [Note: Isaiah 66:2.]; and that though a man’s conduct may have been such as to fix indelible disgrace upon him in the world, God will never despise him, provided he be of a broken and contrite spirit [Note: Psalms 51:17.]. Not even the transient humiliation of Ahab was suffered to pass without some favourable regard [Note: 1 Kings 21:29.]: much less shall that be overlooked which is sincere and pemanent [Note: Psalms 34:18.]. It is indeed not for any merit that there is in our repentance, but for the merits of Jesus Christ, that we shall find acceptance: nevertheless all true penitents, and none other, shall be saved by him.]

Infer,
1.

How desirable is it to be well acquainted with the Holy Scriptures!

[The word of God denounces vengeance against many characters that are thought innocent among men: nor will our ignorance of these threatenings avert or delay the execution of them. Let us then study the sacred oracles with an express reference to ourselves, that we may know what God says in them respecting us. Peradventure we may find many passages, which, when applied to our hearts, will give us just occasion to mourn like the pious monarch before us. Better were it far to know the full extent of our guilt, and thereby to be stimulated to repentance, than through ignorance of our state to continue impenitent, till the wrath of God shall come upon us to the uttermost.]

2.

How enviable is the condition of a true penitent!

[Every prayer of a real penitent is “heard” of God. Let him “open his mouth ever so wide, God will fill it [Note: Isaiah 55:7.].” Let him but plead what the Lord Jesus has done and suffered for him, and God will never cast out his prayer. Surely then there is no man so truly happy as he who “walks humbly with his God.” Indeed our Lord himself repeatedly tells us this; “Blessed are the poor in spirit: blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted [Note: Matthew 5:3-4.].”

But it may be thought that such an abject state of mind would be unsuitable to a man of power and opulence. The Jewish monarch however entertained no such vain conceit; he judged it not unbecoming even his high station to feel, yea to manifest also to all around him, a fear of God. Let all of us then, the high as well as the low, the spiritual as well as the profane, seek to have “a tender heart.” Let us beg of God “to take away from us the heart of stone, and to give us hearts of flesh,” well knowing, that the more exquisite our sensibility is with respect to sin, the more pleasing will be our state before God.]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 34". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/2-chronicles-34.html. 1832.