II Kings 22:1-20 provides us with the record of a young man named Josiah who was crowned king at the age of 8 years old. The Bible tells us that he reigned for 31 years, and he stands out as one of the few examples in Israel’s history of good leadership. Reading this account, it seems that the quality that set Josiah apart was that he had a tender heart.
Take a look at the text
The stage is set in verses 1-9 with the description of Josiah’s reign. He started young, and he did that which was right in the sight of God even when everyone around him was forsaking God. According to verse 3, during the 18th year of his reign, he ordered a renovation project to be started on the House of God. As the work began, the Book of the Law has discovered: the Word of God.
They brought it into the king’s presence and read it to him. Pay close attention to the king’s response, and more importantly, try to get a glimpse of the condition of his heart. God’s blessings were upon King Josiah primarily because he had a tender heart (verse 19). He allowed his heart to be affected by what he read in the Scriptures and by what he saw in the lives of his people.
God still values this trait
Having a tender heart towards God and humanity is still a valuable quality to have. But, unfortunately, many people grow colder and more calloused with age and the passing of time. People become bitter and jaded by the heartaches and disappointments of life, and before long, they no longer allow their hearts to be touched by the pain and plight of others. It’s a coping mechanism. People who’ve been hurt establish emotional walls, and they stop allowing themselves to be vulnerable to harm caused by interpersonal conflict.
People are designed for connection
There’s a problem with that type of mindset, though. God designed people to live and thrive within the context of close, meaningful relationships. It’s a concept as old as time, and it’s captured in the words of Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the man should be alone.”
Contextually, God made that statement regarding the marriage relationship just before He created a wife for Adam. However, the principle reaches much farther than romantic love between a man and woman. Generally speaking, people will only reach their full potential in a life that impacts and is impacted by others.
But it’s not manly?
At least to a certain extent, with men, it’s viewed as weak in our culture to be tender-hearted. Yet this was a trait that was valued and blessed by God in Josiah as he sat in the highest position of power presiding over a nation. Unfortunately, with many men, this only gets worse with time and old age.
There’s a frigid detachment that grows in the hearts of many men with the passing of time until they become bitter and angry in the final years of life. This is not pleasing to God, and it’s not helpful to a world of people made in God’s image.
From my own experience
Allow me to make it personal. When God made it clear to me that one of His primary purposes for my life was to be a pastor, He placed a genuine love for people deep within my heart. It seems that I get more and more tender-hearted the older I get. It’s something that’s continuously growing in my life. It doesn’t take much for my heart to be touched by the pain and problems of the people I interact with regularly.
It doesn’t take much to move me to tears, and more importantly, charitable action. This kind of heart condition has to be tempered and balanced with wisdom and discernment, or else I might give away everything I have or take in every struggler I encounter. However, it’s a mindset that’s been blessed by God. I have found that the more tender-hearted I’ve become toward God and towards people, the happier I’ve become, and my enjoyment of life has increased accordingly.
King Josiah stands out as part of a rare minority of good leaders in the Nation of Israel’s history. He pleased God in the way he ruled. It wasn’t because of his military might or his leadership abilities. It was because of the condition of his heart.
The Bible says that God blessed this Old Testament king because he had a tender heart. This observation presents a challenge, is your heart tender? Or has it become cold, calloused, and hardened? It’s easy for that to happen in the complex world we live in, but there’s value in having a tender heart.
Hebrews 3:15—“To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. . .”
Josh attended seminary through Rock of Ages Baptist Bible Institute out of Cleveland, TN. He has held about every position one could hold in a local church: Sunday school teacher, Children’s Church Preacher, Bus Ministry Director/Worker, Missions Director, Choir Director, Song Leader, Janitor, etc. In October of 2005, he was ordained as an Assistant Pastor at Rest Haven Baptist Church, and that’s where he served until God called him into the Pastorate at Enon Baptist Church in Alto, GA at the age of 32. He stepped out by faith in obedience to God’s instructions and quickly received a call from Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Free Home, GA where he now serves as Pastor. In his free time, Josh enjoys spending quality time with his wife (who is his high school sweetheart) and three children: Zoey, Ava, and Jack, as well as reading, writing, hunting, cooking, weight lifting, and martial arts.