“ ‘. . . because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,’ declares the Lord” (2 Kings 22:19 NASB).
WHEN KING JOSIAH HEARD WHAT GOD HAD PROMISED TO DO IF ISRAEL BECAME UNFAITHFUL, HE WAS STRICKEN WITH GRIEF. A godly man himself, Josiah might have hoped he would be spared the horrors of what was going to happen, but it didn’t matter. If the nation was going to suffer, that was cause for great sorrow. God put it this way: “Your heart was tender and you humbled yourself . . . you have torn your clothes and wept before Me.” Unfortunately, that is not the response that is typical when people are confronted with the reality of God’s judgment upon sin.
One dictionary defines “tenderhearted” as “easily moved by another’s distress; compassionate” (AHD). By that definition, Josiah was tenderhearted. If he had been one of the few godly members left in the congregation at Sardis (Revelation 3:4), he would still have been torn with agony to hear the Lord say to the group as a whole, “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (v.1). Tenderhearted people are grieved when others (family, community, church, nation, etc.) are in sin.
But as important as this point is, there is another that is even more so. When it becomes obvious that we ourselves are among the unfaithful, what is our response? Do we repent or do we retaliate? Hearing the statement of the gospel that we are under the penalty of death for our sins, are we tenderhearted enough to cry out with those on Pentecost, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37,38), or will we, like the crowd that murdered Stephen after he charged them with sin by his presentation of the gospel (Acts 7:54–60), attack the messenger because we are offended by the message?
The gospel “breaks” all of us. Some are broken by the honest recognition of their sin, and in their sorrow they embrace the gospel of God’s forgiveness. Others are broken by an anger and defensiveness that leads only to destruction. O God, please break us in such a way that You may heal us and give us Your eternal life.
“We must be broken into life” (Charles R. Raven).