King Josiah was only eight years old when he began to reign in Judah and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord (2Kg.22:1-2). The book of the law was found in the house of God and read before the king. “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes” (v.11). Josiah was upset because the people had not kept the law written in the book. The king sent to enquired of the Lord. Because the king had humbled himself before the Lord, wept, and rent his clothes, the Lord promised to bless him. The blessing was that he would be “gathered into thy grave in peace” (v.20). That is probably the desire of us all. I know I would like an easy death. One that is quick and painless. It is not my desire to die horribly or to suffer. However, Josiah’s death was not necessarily an easy one. The good king died fighting in battle (23:29-30). He is not alone. There have been many good faithful folks who have died tragically (Heb.11:35-39). John the baptizer was beheaded (Mt.14:10). Stephen was stoned (Acts.7:59-60). James was killed with the sword (Acts.12:2). Jesus was crucified (Acts.2:22-23).
Therefore, being “gathered into thy grave in peace” is not a promise of having an easy death. It is not speaking of how one physically dies, but of what the faithful in the Lord of will enjoy after death. Peace is on the other side of death for God’s people. There is no true peace here in this world. The world, the majority, live under the influence of the wicked one (Jn.14:30; 1Jn.5:19). There is no peace to the wicked or with the wicked (Is.57:20-21). The righteous are blessed in death by being taken away from the wicked and the evil here that they might enjoy true peace (Is.57:1-2). This is what king Josiah was promised. “…thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place” (2Kg.22:20). Nevertheless, king Josiah’s difficult death was indeed a blessing.
It is easy to think something may be wrong with the Christianity of a Christian who dies horribly in an accident, or suffers tremendously from disease, and so on. However, it is not the death that one dies which determines their faithfulness but the life they have lived (Rev.2:10; 22:14). In addition, God has great concern when his people die. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Ps.116:15). It is the way God calls us home.