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Pride & Prejudice

The King of Pop's introspective musings

by Firpo Carr

September 9, 2010

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways." Michael Joseph Jackson sang these profound words in Man in the Mirror. (1988) King Josiah should have scrutinized himself too. Here's what happened:

The Story: After his father was assassinated, Josiah became king at age eight. Commendably, when he was 15, he desired to learn more about Jehovah. (2 Ch 34:3) At 19, he ordered the destruction of false religious altars, sacred poles, graven images, and molten statues. (2 Ch 34:3-8) He had high regard for Jehovah's faithful prophets who denounced idolatry.--Jer 1:1, 2; 3:6-10; Zep 1:1-6.

While God's neglected temple was being repaired, High Priest Hilkiah discovered the Israelite Bible. Upon hearing a reading from it Josiah's reaction was rather animated. Since this Bible condemned idolatry, Josiah sought advice from Prophetess Huldah on behalf of himself and the people, who had engaged in idol worship.

They would pay for such unfaithfulness, but since Josiah had humbled himself the foretold calamity would not happen in his lifetime. (2 Ki 22:3-20; 2 Ch 34:8-28) Appreciatively, Josiah gathered the Judeans and personally read to them from the Bible. Thereupon they vowed to do God's will, after which an even more extensive campaign against idolatry was launched. (1 Ki 13:1, 2; 2 Ki 23:4-20; 2 Ch 34:33) But something stained Josiah's soul.

Pride: Toward the end of his eventful reign, King Josiah committed a prideful act. "Some time later, after Josiah's reformation of The Temple, Neco [alternatively, Necho] king of Egypt marched out toward Carchemish on the Euphrates River on his way to war. Josiah went out to fight him. Neco sent messengers to Josiah saying, ‘What do we have against each other, O King of Judah? I haven't come to fight against you but against the country with whom I'm at war. God commanded me to hurry, so don't get in my way; you'll only interfere with God, who is on my side in this, and he'll destroy you.' But Josiah was spoiling for a fight and wouldn't listen to a thing Neco said (in actuality it was God who said it). Though King Josiah disguised himself when they met on the plain of Megiddo, archers shot him anyway."--2 Ch 35:20-23, The Message.

When truthfully told that "in actuality it was God" who instructed Pharaoh Neco, King Josiah insisted on fighting Neco anyway, and in the process became a fighter "actually against God." (Acts 5:39, NWT) But why would the king do such a thing?  

Prejudice?: Pharaoh Neco was obviously African. Could it be that good King Josiah didn't particularly care for "Neco the Negro"? While it would be speculative to answer in the affirmative, this possibility does exist. The book "All Scripture Is Inspired," published by Jehovah's Witnesses, states: "After a 31-year reign, Josiah meets his death in a vain attempt to prevent the Egyptian hosts from passing through the land on their way to the Euphrates." Is it possible that King Josiah didn't want Black people rolling through the neighborhood?

Granted, given the history of hot and cold wars between Egypt and Israel, and the ebb and flow of animosity as the nationalistic pendulum swung between enemy and ally, nationalism instead of racism could have been at the root of Josiah's wayward actions. Either way, racial or national "pride is before a crash."--Pr 16:18; 18:12.

Jealousy?: Again, though the account neither mentions racial prejudice nor ethnic pride, the context strongly suggests that these components may have been factors in Josiah's wayward reasoning. Closely related to pride is jealousy. It's quite plausible that good King Josiah was jealous of the fact that Jehovah used Neco the Negro instead of him.

Arrogantly, Jealous Josiah neither inquired of High Priest Hilkiah nor Prophetess Huldah regarding the validity of Neco's claim of divine direction. Blinded by pride, prejudice, and/or jealousy, the otherwise good King destined himself to a date with a premature death.--2 Ch 35:23-27.  

Conclusion: The negative consequences of shameless pride, audacious prejudice, and blind jealousy are inescapable. Nurturing such feelings clearly casts a bad reflection on oneself, irrespective of one's prior commendable record of faithful kingdom service to God. So, don't be "a victim of, a selfish kind of love." Remember Josiah. "No message could have been any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make that change." Peace and blessings to you all. Amen.