“Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle.” 2 Ch. 35:22
King Josiah was doing rather splendidly in every way before this event transpired. He almost always tried to do the right things when he found out what the right things were. His fear of the Lord couldn’t have been questioned and his walk with God was impeccable. Now this question surfaces: Why did he even go to battle with Necho king of Egypt, and end up losing his life at the Egyptian’s hand?
Did the king have anything else to prove at his old age? Obviously there must have been reasons behind what Josiah did, and whether they were justifiable or not isn’t for me to ponder. That was just what happened, which marked the end of the illustrious career of a remarkable king.
According to the Biblical narrative it does sound like the battle with Necho was rather unnecessary, and Josiah could have laid low and done nothing to interfere with what the Egyptians were going to do.
“Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle.”
It was a mistake, judging by what transpired at the end. The king was wounded, and later died in Jerusalem. The elderly king was brave enough to march against the enemy, yet he did so in disguise, which was probably a self-protecting mechanism. Perhaps he was eager to experience the adventure of war, yet had no intention to risk his own life to do so.
This is merely my musing over the event, and there must be other plausible explanations, justifications even, done by Biblical scholars over the ages, had I done some reading about this. Yet it seems more reasonable to me to look at the incident from a human point of view.
His life was drawing to an end and the king might have become slightly restless and was looking for an occasion to test his manhood, something that would defy his age and would again prove his worth as a man and a king over a nation.
Perhaps we can still do a lot of things in our old age when we develop a sense of urgency, yet some of the things we choose to do may be utterly unessential and they are better left undone, or done by someone else. Retirement might have been the best thing for Josiah to do at the time. It was indeed a shame for a godly king to die a horrific death in battle, when he could have rocked himself to eternal sleep on his throne.