When the Wise Become Foolish

Michael Beck

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15)

Even the best of men can sometimes take a fatal wrong turn because they’re not listening close enough to the Lord. Josiah was one of the greatest kings of Israel. We read: “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” (2 Kings 23:25) But his lack of prudence in a moment of pressure cost him his life.

Josiah was riding high in the favor of God when Necho, king of Egypt, sought to pass through Israel on his way to fight against the Assyrians. What exactly caused Josiah to take issue with Necho’s presence in his land is not delineated, but Necho warned him not to meddle in a political fight that didn’t involve him.

“After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.” (2 Chron. 35:20,21)

Interestly, Necho means “lame.” Josiah obviously didn’t feel Necho was one to be feared. Nothing Necho said to him could dissuade him from his position. He was not going to fear this “lame” king who was encroaching on his land. He was not going to buckle under his threatening.

“Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.” (2 Chron. 35:22)

Our thoughts are not always God’s thoughts. We can lean to our own understanding in the path we take. We can be wise in our own conceits and right in our own eyes. Necho might have been lame in Josiah’s eyes, but he was still strong enough to kill him.

“And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” (2 Chron. 35:23,24)

How tragic that so great and good a king should have such an ignominious end. But no matter who we are, pride always precedes a fall. None of us are invincible. We live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. We best be listening.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.