The Need for a Tender Heart
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.
King Josiah is an interesting contrast with his wicked grandfather Manasseh, and wicked son Jehoahaz who was taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon (2 Chron. 36:6). The contrast isn’t really about his leadership however, but King Josiah’s heart.
The Stubborn Heart of Manasseh (2 Chron. 33:10)
Manasseh could not have been any different than his Godly father King Hezekiah, rebuilding the altars for idols that had been torn down (33:1-3), and indulging in Satanic rituals (33:6). Though God warned him about these sins, Manasseh stubbornly refused to obey (33:10).
It was later after he had been taken to Babylon in chains that Manasseh cried out to the Lord for help, and was restored to power (33:12-13). Though God die bless his kingdom, the damage had already been done since his son Amon continued in ways of wickedness.
The Tender Heart of Josiah (2 Chron. 34:19-21)
King Josiah began his kingdom well with a committed return to the ways of David and Solomon (34:1-3), but it wasn’t till the law of God is found that we see his heart of humility.
During a renovation of the temple, a copy of the OT law was found, which included many laws the Jews were no longer obeying. When the law was read to the King, he responded with repentance immediately.
2 Chronicles 34:19 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.
Because Josiah displayed immediate repentance and seeking of Gods mercy (34:21-22) God kept the Babylonian captivity from coming during his own reign (34:27).
Sadly this tenderness towards God didn’t continue with Josiah’s son Jehoahaz…
The Hardened Heart of Jehoahaz (36:13-16)
Though he was given many warnings, the son of Josiah continually hardened his heart instead of submitting like Manasseh. There is a good chance that this was part of God’s plan so that Israel would be taken captive by Babylon
The difference between these three hearts was their obedience to God:
- The stubborn heart obeys because it has to (is forced to)
- The Tender heart obeys because it wants to
- The Hardened heart refuses to obey at all
If we think about it, most of us would find the stubborn heart of Manasseh in our lives far too often. An attitude that will obey, but only when God absolutely makes us do it!
May the Lord help us develop tender hearts that at the first moment of temptation respond with tears of repentance