The Dirge Report


No, that isn’t a typo (I didn’t mean to type the Drudge Report). One of the most exciting parts of reading the Bible is making new discoveries every time you open it up. Most recently, I discovered a new word. Well, new to me. Dirge is a slow song that expresses deep sadness or sorrow. Honestly, I have no recollection of ever having read or heard this word until reading it in 2 Chronicles (HCSB).

As this point in 2 Chronicles we find King Josiah being a bit stubborn and heading off to the Valley of Megiddo to fight the King of Egypt (Neco). We even read that Neco tells him not to come and that these are God’s words. Not surprisingly, this leads to a mortal wound by Neco’s archers which then results in a mourning kingdom. King Josiah had been the one who lead the Israelites back to God after finding and then following God’s laws and decrees. He rebuilt the temple and began celebrating the appointed festivals. He was last incredible leader the Israelites had before its destruction. He had basically lead Israel through a revival and now he was gone.

20 After all this that Josiah had prepared for the temple, Neco king of Egypt marched up to fight at Carchemish by the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to confront him. 21 But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What is the issue between you and me, king of Judah? I have not come against you today but I am fighting another dynasty. God told me to hurry. Stop opposing God who is with me; don’t make Him destroy you!”

22 But Josiah did not turn away from him; instead, in order to fight with him he disguised himself. He did not listen to Neco’s words from the mouth of God, but went to the Valley of Megiddo to fight. 23 The archers shot King Josiah, and he said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am severely wounded!” 24 So his servants took him out of the war chariot, carried him in his second chariot, and brought him to Jerusalem. Then he died, and they buried him in the tomb of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 25 Jeremiah chanted a dirge over Josiah, and all the singing men and singing women still speak of Josiah in their dirges to this very day. They established them as a statute for Israel, and indeed they are written in the Dirges. 2 Chronicles 35:20-25

The entire kingdom was deeply saddened and mourned his death. This is where our new word comes in. Jeremiah chants a dirge (song of sorrow) over Josiah. It’s his funeral song, his ceremony, his wake (as we call it). Commentators say that his obituary was full of all the positive things Josiah had done for the Israelites by honoring and turning back to God. All that said, the overarching thought that has stayed with me (besides a new vocabulary word) is this: What will they sing over me? Who will sing my dirge and will it be positive? Will they be able to say that I laid down my life and lived for the Lord? That I gave in a sacrificial way? Gave my children a strong foundation to guide them? Honored my husband and humbled myself before others? This Christmas season, I pray God will guide each of us with a willing heart to do all these things and more for Him in the time He has given us.

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