By: Aaron Gansky
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother's name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. -- 2 Kings 22:1-2
He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the Lord. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley. -- 2 Kings 23:12
Even as a teenager, I was impressed. I was in what amounted to a cerulean felt dress (the costume designer insisted it was a royal robe) in front of an audience of just over 100 people (including my mother and father). I should have been embarrassed. I should have felt self-conscious about my stringy white legs hanging like two rogue threads from my "royal robe." Instead, I was thinking about the play I was in-"Good Kings Come in Small Packages." It was a church production of a piece that centered on the life of Josiah, the boy who would be king.
Eight years old and ruling the nation. Not just ruling it, but doing it well. Where does an eight year old with a wicked (sadistic, twisted, and about a dozen other adjectives also work well here) father get the guts to rule with such confidence, such righteousness. How does he give an order in such a way that his charges don't crack up laughing? How does he command respect?
I remember as an eight year old, I marched into a toy store with a crisp twenty. I was going to buy a video game and my folks were waiting for me in the next store over in the mall. I stood at the counter, shy, timid, waiting patiently (as my parents taught me) to be acknowledged so I could tell the employee which game I wanted (what was it-The Karate Kid? That must have been it). I must have waited for fifteen minutes. The whole time I was staring at the employee and she (what, a sixteen year old high school student-the ultimate ignoring machine) would look at me quizzically, then help an adult. Then, another adult would cut in front of me and she'd help them. Each time, though I was smoldering inside, I waited. Finally, when I was the only breathing thing left in the store, she finally asked if she could help me. I asked politely for the game and flummoxed her. Surely I didn't have the money to buy a video game by myself.
But here's an eight year old commanding his subjects and they unquestionably follow his word. His demands, mind you, were not for a kingly peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. They were to tear down popular idols and places of worship. Granted, they were used for pagan practices, but they were popular nonetheless. Unflinchingly, without wasting time, Josiah gave uncompromising orders to utterly destroy anything that defiled the name of God. He was unquestionably, unflinchingly, uncompromisingly righteous.
Playing the part of Hilkiah, the high priest who helped advise Josiah during his reign, feeling oddly confident in my womanly attire, I decided on the spot that my first son would be named Josiah.
Now-all I have to do is pray that I'm a better father than Amon.
Aaron Gansky is a writer and teacher living in California.